BATON ROUGE, La. -- Day three of LSU's spring season was the first with shoulder pads.
And with the pads came a tried but true hallmark of Tigers practices that players and reporters alike were excited to see again -- the Big Cat drill.
For 10 or so minutes at the start of practice, the full roster gathered in a wide circle around coach Les Miles as he called out names in pairs. Whoever got the call matched up in the middle of the circle and squared off in a collision in front of their teammates.
Miles called out the names of roughly two dozen players, and the team got to see a first look at how tough its new freshmen are.
New running back Jeremy Hill went against linebacker Luke Muncie, which drew a lot of attention. Tyrann Mathieu, back with the team after missing the first two practices for an awards ceremony, hollered that Hill was "fresh meat," and Hill looked like it.
Still, Hill handled himself well, and running backs coach Frank Wilson told him, "Not bad for your first go."
Another notable freshman matchup involved linebacker Lamar Louis and junior running back Alfred Blue. Blue absolutely demolished the youngster, which drew some crows of satisfaction from the offense.
Kenny Hilliard, after having his tackling posture hilariously corrected by Miles, battled with Lamin Barrow to a stalemate. Wide receiver Jarrett Fobbs and Craig Loston scrapped a bit, as they continued to scrum well after the whistle had blown, which drew some rebuke from the coaches.
It was also encouraging to see participation from defensive end Chancey Aghayere, who looked like he held himself back a bit during Saturday's drills.
One of the highlights of the sequence didn't even come during the drill, however. One of the team's many visitors at practice happened to ask punter Brad Wing why he wasn't participating.
"I would hurt too many people," Wing said with a grin.
Injury report: As noted above, Aghayere seemed to be a full go Monday afternoon.
Hot pursuit: When the squad split into different units, the defense got together as a whole. Working with defense coordinator John Chavis, the group ran a drill that saw the defense fight off blocks and pursue a ball carrier around the corner to the sideline.
Chavis was not happy with the defense's effort more often than not. He started off by telling defensive tackle Anthony Johnson his hustle on the play "was not good enough," but it only took a few more reps for him to get in the face of another defensive tackle, Ego Ferguson.
Chavis yelled at Ferguson, "I don't care if you have to run to the endzone, make the play!"
Opening up: After a few days of shorter passes, the Tiger quarterbacks finally opened up their arms a bit Monday. The quarterbacks worked with the wide receivers on flag routes, lofting bombs about 35 yards to the back corner of the end zone.
All three signal-callers threw some pretty balls. There were a handful of overthrows, but not a single underthrow. All three of LSU's current quarterbacks definitely have the arm for a more open passing attack, but it remains to be seen if they have the rest.
The quarterbacks also worked with the running backs on inside screens, in which a lead blocker breaks out wide for an outlet pass while the tailback chips a pass rusher before turning inside for a short pass. Hill is apparently still adapting to the speed required at the college level, as he drew the ire of quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe for not getting out of the backfield fast enough.
Full secondary: New secondary coach Corey Raymond got to work with his full secondary for the first time, as Mathieu was back in uniform Monday.
Martin ran first team with the full defense earlier in the afternoon, but Mathieu got all the first-team reps in individual secondary drills alongside Reid, Simon and Loston. The second team included Martin, Jalen Collins, Micah Eugene and David Jenkins.
Alums at practice: There are always visitors are LSU practices, in some form or another. There didn't appear to be any recruits at today's practice, being a Monday. But two notable alumni from the Tigers' most recent national championship team were in attendance.
Former quarterback Matt Flynn was at practice to watch the next generation of QB's. Flynn kept a close eye on Zach Mettenberger and the LSU freshmen, observing their throws from the sideline. Right there with him was one of his favorite targets from college, Early Doucet.