Over 20,000 fans got their first look at the Tigers that most experts are picking to win the SEC West with as the Purple squad won the Spring Game Saturday afternoon, 17-7.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's new defense was in the spotlight, and the first big play belonged to the defense. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris started on the sideline, signaling to backup quarterback Danny Etling. In the Purdue transfer's first playing time in front of Tiger fans, his pass went off the hands of running back Darrel Williams and into the waiting arms of defensive end Isaiah Washington for an interception.
The Purple led 3-0 before a touchdown by Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette, who ran over Dwayne Thomas during the 16-yard run. Fournette ended the game with 49 yards on eight carries and his 16-yard touchdown run that gave Purple a 10-0 lead.
The offense struck quickly again for the Purple as Etling made up for his earlier turnover, finding freshman Dee Anderson alone against a backup secondary for a 70-yard touchdown throw, 17-0.
With a running clock in the second half, the only score belonged to Acadiana's Bry'Keithon Mouton, make the score 17-7.
Etling had one last chance for a big play late in the fourth quarter, but his deep throw to Anderson was picked off by true freshman Saivion Smith, who has been drawing rave reviews from Miles.
Harris was 11 for 15 with both teams for 106 yards, while Etling was 6 for 12 for 106 yards with a 70-yard touchdown pass.
The big offensive names from recent years past were in attendance with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill. However, the game itself was not packed with dazzling highlights.
The only long touchdown of the day was a pass thrown against a scout-squad defensive back. Harris did not pass for a touchdown and did not take a lot of reps. So what do fans make of that?
"The coaching staff had things they wanted to accomplish coming into this spring game and I feel we've accomplished those things," said sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris. "You know I've had a lot of work and a lot of work over the spring and, just because he pulls the plug. Most importantly, I want to be ready for September."
"He will go into his second summer, as the guy who runs the summer workouts," Miles said. "So, he's going to make improvements, he's going to make strides, all summer long. Into his second two-a-days as being the starter. So, he's going to finally going to go into a season, having rehearsed this all before."
Aranda was down on the field and directing his men with some fire. LSU continuing to prepare Aranda's new system for his old team Wisconsin, who the Tigers open their season with in less than 5 months.
"You know the flexibility of guys that rush and drop and do both, that's exciting. Because we have those guys. How far do we go? That's the question, and summer time is a good time to work on it," Aranda said.
"I feel if we go to fall camp and really master what Coach Aranda and the coaching staff have for us, I feel when we go to Lambeau Field I feel we can really hit the ground running," said junior defensive lineman Christian LaCouture.
LSU now heads into the summer months with a talented and veteran team capable of competing for something big. The focus is to work hard and stay away from trouble.
"I don't know who they're calling at 3 a.m., but if it's me, I'm not answering, I can promise you," said Miles when asked about early morning phone calls.
Alvin Roy Fourth Quarter Award(Outstanding performance in LSU Off-Season Program): Jamal Adams, Lewis Neal, Tre'Davious White, Duke Riley, KJ Malone, Rickey Jefferson, Danny Etling
Eric Andolsek Leadership Award (Outstanding Leadership in Spring Drills- Offense): Leonard Fournette
Mike Miley Leadership Award (Outstanding Leadership in Spring Drills- Defense): Tre'Davious White, Duke Riley
Toby Caston Performance Award (Outstanding Performance in Spring Drills- Defense): Davon Godchaux, Jamal Adams, Duke Riley, Lewis Neal
Ralph Norwood Performance Award (Outstanding Performance in Spring Drills Offense): Foster Moreau, Colin Jeter, DJ Chark, Brandon Harris, Malachi Dupre
Most Improved Award (Players who have made the most improvement during Spring Drills): Corey Thompson, Josh Boutte, KJ Malone, Maea Teuhema, Andy Dodd, Chidi Okeke, Arden Key
Jimmy Taylor Award (The comprehensive Spring Award for Outstanding Leadership, Effort and Performance): Derrius Guice, Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Davon Godchaux
Jerry Stovall Special Teams Award: Cameron Gamble, Josh Growden, Blake Ferguson
Newcomer Award: Michael Divinity, Devin White, Saivion Smith, Dee Anderson, Danny Etling, Russell Gage, Lanard Fournette
Overcoming Adversity Award: JD Moore, Nick Brossette, John Battle, Ethan Pocic, Alex Cheramie
Coaches Award: Russell Gage, Tashawn Bower, Tre'Davious White, Kendell Beckwith, Lewis Neal, Arden Key, Jordan Harper, Caleb Lewis