Anthony Jennings (USA Today)
LSU returned to the practice field this week, and the players met with the media to provide updates on how they're faring as they continue bowl preparations. TSD has the latest on Anthony Jennings, underclassmen looking at the NFL, injuries and some missing pieces in the secondary.
JENNINGS GETS HIS PRAISE
The primary goal of the early bowl practices is to get the entire offense on the same page with new starting quarterback Anthony Jennings.
The freshman has taken control of the LSU fan base’s attention span as most everyone wants to know how the young signal caller is adjusting to his new role. LSU didn’t make Jennings available for interviews on Tuesday or Wednesday, but his teammates were more than willing to dish on his development.
“He’s looking great,” said junior WR Odell Beckham. “He’s going to lead us into [the] Iowa [game] and hopefully to victory. He’s out there making plays and gaining confidence everyday.”
Beckham did admit though that Jennings still has a tendency to let his youth and inexperience leak out.
“You can see him coming in there sometimes and being a freshmen, his eyes get big, especially stepping in so late in the season,” Beckham said. “It’s going to take him a few plays to get in the game, but after that he’ll get rolling.”
Fans did get a small glimpse of what Jennings is capable of after that 99-yard, game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas. Most of the excitement for this bowl game is the curiosity to see what the LSU offense looks like with Jennings at the helm.
There’s no question he has more mobility than Zach Mettenberger, and Beckham said that’s been evident in the last few days of practice.
“He has that dual-threat to him,” Beckham said. “You can’t just sit back there and try and stop the pass because he can take off on you and run for a bunch. There’s not a quarterback that has the arm that Zach has, so that’s something that Anthony doesn’t exactly have, but he has a good enough arm to put the ball where it needs to be.”
When pestered about how any new wrinkles Cam Cameron has implemented with Jennings at quarterback, the players kept it close to the vest, but did admit that there may be a little read-option with the more mobile Jennings under center.
“We’re going to try to keep [Iowa] off-balance and make them prepare for as much as possible,” Jeremy Hill said. “Anthony can definitely do the read-option, and we’re going to do the traditional LSU offense as well. Keeping them off-balance, that will give us an advantage.”
NOT LOOKING AT THE NFL QUITE YET
There’s still one game left in the 2013 season, but that hasn’t stopped many from looking to the next level.
But not the group of underclassmen that are considered candidates to depart early for the NFL. When asked this week if they’d made a decision on their future, every draft-eligible Tiger said they won’t worry about the draft until after LSU’s bowl game.
That being said, most every player said they have filed the necessary paperwork to have their draft projection evaluated by the NFL. The players aren’t expecting to receive those results until after the bowl game, so many said that will help them focus on Iowa.
Here’s what three of LSU’s underclassmen said about the NFL:
Jeremy Hill: “I’m still in the college flow right now, and I’m just trying to keep my mind on this bowl game. When that opportunity comes, I’ll start thinking about it…I’m not really worried about it. When guys start worrying about those kinds of things, their style of play changes. I’m going play the way I’ve played all season long, and just focus on beating Iowa.”
Jarvis Landry: “I’ve just been focused on finishing school. We just finished exams, so I’m just getting over all the studying. But for me it’s one of those things that comes up but it’s not really talked about. Probably after the bowl game I’ll figure out what I want to do. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but right now I’m focused on Iowa.”
Odell Beckham: “It’s still up in the air. It’s between my family and whatever decision we make, it’s whatever’s best for them. I’m really just focused on Iowa right now and getting healthy.”
HAWKINS REHABBING A KNEE INJURY
The Tigers mostly have a clean bill of health after a long break from the field. Odell Beckham and Elliott Porter, who both missed time against Arkansas, said they’re back at practice and returning to 100 percent.
Starting right tackle Jerald Hawkins said he’s been slowed down by a strained MCL. He said he’s spent the last couple weeks rehabbing but expects to return to practice this week and should be fine for the bowl game.
RESERVES MISSING FROM THE SECONDARY
Reports surfaced Wednesday that sophomore safety Micah Eugene is no longer with the team, and the Tigers would be without two other DBs for the bowl game.
Eugene never reported for bowl practices, and LSU has since confirmed that he is no longer on the team. Eugene received steady playing time early in the season, even starting a pair of games, but he fell out of the starting lineup as the year wore on and eventually spent most of his time on the bench.
Reports have also indicated that DBs Derrick Raymond and Jerqwinick Sandolph will not be available when the Tigers play Iowa. Sandolph missed most of the season as a result of academics but did appear in three of the last four games. Raymond did not receive any playing time this season.
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