The second week of LSU's spring football practice will conclude Saturday with a 60-play scrimmage, head coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday evening, which will be the first game-style drilling for the Tigers' new run-pass-option offense.
LSU began practicing in full pads on Tuesday, and Orgeron said that on Thursday, the offense put in some new plays and schemes and focused a little on the red zone — a section of the field where Orgeron felt the team struggled during the 2018 season.
The new offensive schemes mostly had to do with new passing game coordinator Joe Brady getting the wide receivers to run more slant routes that can help the athletes utilize the position group's athleticism in space.
"We're spreading the field," Orgeron said. "We are spreading the field."
The improvements will be practiced privately on Saturday, as the scrimmage is closed to the public and the media.
Spreading the field is something Orgeron wanted LSU to do last season, telling a crowded room at the preseason's Rotary Club meeting that the Tigers would be running up to five-wide receiver sets.
That never really worked out last season, due to protection issues and multiple injuries across offensive personnel.
"Now we're running shorter routes, we're running more slants," Orgeron said. "More RPOs. It's a different game, it's a quick game."
Orgeron said the defense has "some guys nicked up already, especially on the defensive line."
Outside linebacker Andre Anthony, Orgeron said, practiced at defensive end since players like starting defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko and nose tackle Tyler Shelvin were held out of practice on Thursday.
Since Shelvin was out, walking around the indoor practice facility in shorts and a jersey, early enrollee Siaki "Apu" Ika, the nation's No. 13 defensive tackle per 247Sports, practiced with the first team defense, impressing Orgeron.
"He struggles a little bit at times when he gets tired," Orgeron said of the 6-foot-4, 364-pound Ika, a Utah native who is playing 30 pounds above his playing weight. "He hasn't had his summer conditioning yet. But he hasn't backed down from anything yet. He's nimble on his feet. His coaches have taught him how to use his hands. He's going to be an excellent lineman for us."
Delpit wanted 'Big Cat' back
So who was responsible for bringing the 'Big Cat' drill back?
The players, Orgeron said, particularly the All-American safety and new honorary No. 7.
"Grant Delpit came up to me and said, 'Coach, we need to do Big Cat,'" Orgeron said. "So, I said, 'OK.' We did. I was OK with it. I love it. I always thought it was a good drill, and the players like it."
LSU brought the Big Cat drill (made famous in the Les Miles era) back on the first day of pads Tuesday, where one offensive player smacks against a defensive player within a circle of cheering Tigers.
Orgeron said he goes in with a list of 10 name pairings, and no player knows ahead of time about the list. He'll call out their names, and the players will immediately challenge each other within the circle.
Among those who have stood out, Orgeron said, cornerback Kelvin Joseph and starting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase "had a great rep."
And perhaps a surprise: kickoff specialist Avery Atkins, a former All-State safety from Auburn High in Alabama.
"It's highly competitive," Orgeron said, "and something the guys like. It's a sign of toughness and a sign of want-to."