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Harris works more with starters in LSU scrimmage

Les Miles and the Tigers open their season on the road against SEC rival Mississippi State on Saturday. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

BATON ROUGE, La. -- As only he can, LSU coach Les Miles said quarterback Brandon Harris took more snaps with the starting offense in Saturday’s scrimmage than did Anthony Jennings.

Determining how many more snaps Harris took than his competitor would require a lesson in Miles-speak.

“[They split reps] pretty evenly,” Miles said after the 120-play situational scrimmage that started Tiger Stadium and ended at LSU’s indoor practice facility because of rain and lightning. “Brandon Harris had the advantage significantly. All in all, it was pretty close.”

So which was it? Miles is being intentionally vague about the position battle, as he has been since the Harris-Jennings competition started more than a year ago. But he made it clear that Harris continues to get the first opportunity to steal the job from Jennings, who started 12 of 13 games last season.

In a rare disclosure for the Tigers’ coach, Miles said Harris completed 12 of 17 passes in the scrimmage and that the quarterbacks passed for a total of 250 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. Miles added that the offense totaled 270 rushing yards, led by sophomore Leonard Fournette’s 10 carries for 100.

Miles didn’t come close to naming Harris as his starter for the Sept. 5 opener against McNeese State, however. In fact, he said Jennings might have had the better day of the two on Saturday.

“I want to see the development continue,” Miles said. “I think Anthony is competing. He had a big day. He probably threw for more touchdowns than Brandon did in this day. I still want to watch, still want them to compete.”

As far as the defense, Miles said the starters didn’t surrender much on the ground or through the air and that the pass rush continues to improve under the guidance of new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

Miles also credited safety Corey Thompson, who sat out last season while returning from an ACL tear, for laying a big hit on Fournette. He added that safety John Battle also made “some significant plays” -- both good signs as the Tigers work to replace senior starter Jalen Mills, who is out for the foreseeable future after injuring his ankle in practice on Wednesday.

As for how much time he expects Mills to miss, Miles wouldn’t -- or couldn’t -- say.

“I would not want to put too long a time frame on it,” Miles said. “I think there’s a want from him to get healed and get better faster. … If he can get back here in four weeks, get back here in three, back here in five, I don’t want to put anything on it. I’m going to let him really describe his healing and treatments.”

Miles said the Tigers practiced special teams scenarios on Saturday and that freshmen Derrius Guice and Donte Jackson -- who could be used in a variety of ways this season -- were among the return men getting work.

“I think both of those guys are going to be carrying the ball for us in kick and punt scenarios,” Miles said, later adding, “[Jackson is] really, really fast. If he gets in front of you and makes you miss, you’re in trouble.”

Another freshman duo that Miles said could contribute this season is Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby. Teuhema has worked at both guard positions, Miles said, and “I think you could possibly see him out there in virtually every game.”

Saturday marked LSU’s second major scrimmage of the preseason. The Tigers’ preseason practice schedule shows that they are to scrimmage again on Tuesday afternoon.