Defense rules the day in LSU's scrimmage

March, 28, 2009
3/28/09
5:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The swirling winds Saturday inside Tiger Stadium took their toll on LSU's offense, particularly the passing game.

But the biggest problem for the offense, according to LSU coach Les Miles, was a defense that's starting to assert itself the way it's used to asserting itself in these parts.

"It's what we need," said Miles. "For this football team to be as good as it's capable [of being], this defense has got to come to life ... and they have. It's got to continue. But, yeah, I like the start, certainly."

The Tigers' first full scrimmage of the spring produced a number of big plays by the defense. The scrimmage was closed to the public, but LSU sports information officials provided statistics.

Sophomore Ron Brooks, who played cornerback last season, got some work at safety Saturday and intercepted two passes. He returned the second pick 48 yards for a touchdown.

First-year defensive coordinator John Chavis likes his depth in the secondary, and Brooks is one of the players who's really come on this spring. Chavis would routinely play a package using six defensive backs when he was at Tennessee, and it looks like he will have that option next season at LSU when you look at the Tigers' numbers in the secondary.

The defense scored two other touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage. Safety Harry Coleman returned an interception for a score, while linebacker Perry Riley had a fumble return for a TD.

One of the other defensive stars of the spring thus far has been junior tackle Drake Nevis, who made his presence felt Saturday. He forced a fumble and had a sack. Miles said tackle Al Woods also had a big scrimmage. If the 6-foot-4, 323-pound Woods finally reaches his potential next season, the Tigers have a chance to be dominant up front.

One of the concerns defensively is depth at linebacker, but it looks like senior Jacob Cutrera has solidified himself in the middle after taking over for the departed Darry Beckwith.

"He's having a great spring," Miles said. "I don't think there's going to be any question that he'll be poised to have a tremendous fall."

The enthusiasm and hustle on defense was what pleased Miles the most, especially after watching his defense give up 30 or more points in the last three regular-season games last season. He said it's obvious that Chavis and the new defensive assistants have gotten through to this group of players.

"There's a little different feel over there right now," Miles said. "I like the way it's going. There's great enthusiasm and a want to be special."

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