Things seemed to be aligning for a big day for Zach Mettenberger and the LSU offense during Saturday's scrimmage at Tiger Stadium.
It was a picture-perfect day for football. The defensive line was, to use Les Miles' favorite phrase, "nicked." And the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, was held out of the secondary because of injury.
Mettenberger and the offense did not disappoint. The Tigers' new starting QB completed 16 of 25 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the last scrimmage before the March 31 spring game
"I think we are competing in the passing game very, very well," Miles said after the 100-play scrimmage that was conducted outside of the view of the public and the media. Statistics were provided by Miles. "I think Mettenberger is a leader there. I think he enjoys his role."
Miles said the Tigers rushed for 287 yards and passed for 278 while working on regular drives, tight zone, red zone and third-down situations. Miles said there was also special teams work.
Mettenberger and Stephen Rivers combined for four touchdown passes, but Miles said most came during red zone work. Rivers completed 6 of 12 passes for 60 yards and the other touchdown.
"We're improved," Miles said. "Offensively, we ran the football and threw the football pretty well."
He said Spencer Ware rushed 12 times for 90 yards while Kenny Hilliard (13-66), Jeremy Hill (10-56), Alfred Blue (10-67) all ran well. Odell Beckham (5-50) and Jarvis Landry (3-50) were the leading receivers, Miles said. He said tight end Chase Clement had a "nice catch" in the end zone for a touchdown.
Miles said while the offense put up some yards, the defense had "about six sacks" that frustrated some drives. He also bemoaned pre-snap penalties. "It's the veterans that are doing it, which is frustrating," he said.
He said the defensive line, in particular, was struggling with minor injuries that may have given the offense an advantage.
"We were a little nicked on the defensive line," he said. "It wasn't their day."
Hill impressing: With the way Hill, the true freshman from Redemptorist, has run the ball in the spring, "I can't imagine he'll be redshirted," Miles said.
Earlier in the spring, Miles noted that when both Hill and Hilliard came out of high school in the same recruiting class, Hill was considered further along than Hilliard. But Hill was arrested for sexual battery for an on-campus incident and did not sign on signing day.
Eventually, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and Hill enrolled at LSU for the spring semester.
Miles has clearly been impressed with what he's seen from 6-foot-1, 230-pound bruiser.
"If he loses a little bit of weight, he's going to be a very talented tailback," Miles said.
Banged up: Mathieu, who was nursing a sprained ankle, wasn't the only Tiger held out Saturday. P.J. Lonergan, the offensive guard who redshirted because of a knee injury last season, also sat out.
Several other Tigers have seen their spring practice end because of injuries Miles said are not severe. Linebacker Tahj Jones has been shut down for the spring, Miles said, as has wide receiver Kadron Boone, who Miles said had a shoulder "repaired."
And running back Michael Ford hasn't participated, and won't participate in spring practice because of a unspecified knee injury. Miles said there is no ligament damage and that it didn't require a "major operation." But he would not confirm that there was an operation at all.
"What we're doing is we're giving him the most amount of time to get healthy," Miles said. "So we're really going to give him the spring. But we expect him to be very very healthy come the fall."
"Jalen Collins is coming," Miles said. "He's going to be a good player. I think Micah Eugene is also in that mold. There are a lot of other guys who need work and aren't necessarily ready to play."
Ready to snap: Reid Ferguson enrolled at LSU in January after graduating early from Buford, Ga. High School and already, he's been penciled in as the Tigers' starting deep snapper.
"It's a very important issue," said Miles, who has placed an emphasis on excelling at special teams during his LSU tenure. "We have some nice competition there."
Busy weekend: On top of a scrimmage, the LSU football weekend was busy. Not only was pro day Thursday, the Tigers hosted several recruits on campus this weekend and had a coaching clinic that featured Tony Dungy as the main feature.
"I thought the coaching clinic went extremely well," Miles said. "Tony Dungy was a great addition to the lineup. We gave coach Dungy a chance to speak to my team and my coaches. It's really excellent. We've had some really great clinics and this would stack up with all of them."