LSU took the field Thursday morning for a single practice session in full pads and caught a break with temperatures in the low to mid-80s and a nice breeze buffeting the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.
Several notables from the four periods the media was allowed to observe:
--- Three prominent players were not at practice: Running back Spencer Ware, right guard Will Blackwell and freshman offensive lineman La'el Collins.
Blackwell was out for a third practice in a row, while Ware and Collins were missing for the first time. Ware, in particular, is a surprise considering the toughness and leadership he has shown. It's likely the grind of two-a-days in Wednesday's torrid conditions took a toll.
--- The window open to the media began as usual with the big cat drill and there was some palpable intensity in the handful of matchups as a helmet popped off once and another player was knocked out of a shoe.
Tight end Chase Clement and linebacker Luke Muncie stood each other up and drew head coach Les Miles' praise: "Damn fine work by both men!"
In an always entertaining fullback-linebacker matchup, D.J. Welter got the best of Connor Neighbors, who has shown flashes of being an effective run blocker. As Neighbors returned to the ring of players, he shook his head and said "I couldn't even get my hands on him he was so quick."
The best matchup of the drill might've been freshman receiver Odell Beckham clashing with classmate and cornerback Ronald Martin. Neither player gave much ground – a good sign for both. Beckham has been impressive catching the ball in drills and adding the willingness and a knack for downfield blocking will only elevate his chances to play. Martin hasn't fared well in a lot of drills and likely needed a jolt of confidence.
--- Besides the missing players, a handful of others were in green no-contact jerseys: Left tackle Chris Faulk and receiver Kadron Boone, who is battling James Wright and Beckham for the third receiver spot. Running back Terrance Magee was not in a green jersey and ran through the paces at a better clip than he has been.
Jarvis Landry was in football gear for the first time in camp, minus pads and also without the protective boot on his surgically repaired foot, and ran routes with the receivers group. Rueben Randle was also back to what appeared full speed in the session the media watched.
With Blackwell out, sophomore Josh Williford – in full pads for the second straight practice after missing several days after two deaths in his family – ran as the No. 1 right guard. Faulk was still at left tackle with the first unit, and T-Bob Hebert and Josh Dworaczyk alternated at left guard.
Dworaczyk stayed busy coaching up the younger players when the second team was going through a drill and struggling mightily. Several of the second teamers were jumping the snap count, which drew the ire of offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
"You're making something miserable that ought to be pretty _____ing easy by now," Studrawa said.
--- With Ware out, Alfred Blue and Michael Ford both got extra reps in the running backs group. When the horn blew for the scout team players to join their respective groups, freshman Kenny Hilliard smiled and took off running at three-quarter speed – considerably faster than his other teammates who didn't seem as enthused by their roles.
Two practices are scheduled on Friday with the first scrimmage of camp following on Saturday.
Keep following us at TigerSportsDigest.com. All camp stories can be found in a file titled ‘The hub: 2011 LSU fall camp,' and we're also continually updating stories and video from Media Day, which can be found in a file called ‘The hub: 2011 LSU Media Day.'
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