Mettenberger shines in final scrimmage

BATON ROUGE, La. -- If there weren't enough expectations built up for new LSU quarterback Zack Mettenberger and the Tigers' new-look passing game, there probably will be after LSU's final scrimmage Tuesday.

Mettenberger, getting extended action in the last full scrimmage before the start of the regular season, completed 26 of 36 passes for 336 yards, "a number of touchdowns," and one interception according to LSU coach Les Miles, in a closed and long scrimmage at Tiger Stadium.

As is the case with all LSU scrimmages, the workout was closed from both the public and the media. Statistics were provided by Miles.

Playing against second-team defenders, Mettenberger threw for almost as many yards as he did in the first two scrimmages combined and also played more as the LSU coaches looked to fine tune things in the last "camp" practice before their attention gets turned to the Aug. 1 opener against North Texas.

"He's operating our offense," Miles said of Mettenberger, who replaces departed seniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee as the starter. "We threw a lot at him today and he handled it very well. He's got a great attitude, he's picking it up, he's aggressive and very competitive. I like where we are there."

Miles acknowledged three touchdown passes, one each to James Wright, who caught four passes for 60 yards, Russell Shepard (3 catches, 40 yards) and Jarvis Landry (4 for 20). He said Odell Beckham Jr. led the receivers with four catches for 100 yards.

Miles said backup quarterback Stephen Rivers threw just six passes, as the emphasis was to get Mettenberger ready. There was no mention of statistics compiled by Penn State transfer Rob Bolden

Backs out: If one had to guess at who would emerge as LSU's top two running backs coming into August, odds are they would have picked Spencer Ware and Michael Ford.

Neither participated in Tuesday's scrimmage because they were "nicked," according to Miles. Miles said he expected "both guys to be healthy come game week."

With the pair out, Alfred Blue led the running backs for a second straight scrimmage with 70 yards on six carries with two touchdowns. Kenny Hilliard rushed for 67 yards on 11 carries and two scores and Jeremy Hill rushed eight times for 43 yards with two touchdowns. LSU's scrimmage was a "thud" scrimmage, where runners are "down" on initial contact.

Miles said the high number of touchdowns came as a result of an emphasis placed on red zone plays during the scrimmage.

A full O-line: Miles said right tackle Alex Hurst scrimmaged for the first time after missing the first two scrimmages with an undisclosed injury. With Hurst back in the lineup, LSU scrimmaged with its entire starting offensive line for the first time in camp.

He said senior Josh Dworaczyk swung between guard and tackle in his new super sub role.

Loston sits, Reid picks: Oft-injured strong safety Craig Loston did not play, but like the running backs who sat out, Miles said he expects him ready to play for the North Texas game.

In his place, sophomore Ronald Martin played with the first team.

The news was better for junior free safety Eric Reid, who had an interception Tuesday.

"He's everything that is advertised," Miles said. "Quality person, hard worker, good leader. He's going to have a great fall."

Day off: LSU will take Wednesday off, then go through three straight practices focusing on North Texas.

Miles said a few North Texas wrinkles were thrown in Tuesday.

"What we tried to do was some things that are like North Texas that could be be called in our terminology," Miles said. "So we got some North Texas-style looks with our calls."

Missed Mo: Mo Isom, the former LSU women's soccer player who is again trying to make the LSU football team as a kicker, started her tryout with LSU Tuesday and tweeted that while she had good accuracy and initial height on her kicks, she needed "more power from distance."

Miles said he did not see Isom's workout, but he did see a lot of special teams at the scrimmage, where he said there were live attempts to block kicks, but no live returns.