Mettenberger shows fire in scrimmage

BATON ROUGE -- Quarterbacks nationwide are known to don the infamous no-contact jerseys during practice at this time of year. With five months until the first day of football season, it doesn't make much sense to risk injury to a team's most important player.

LSU signal-caller Zach Mettenberger apparently isn't afraid to mix it up if he has to, however. The Tigers scrimmaged as a full team to the tune of about 100 plays Saturday morning, and although the practice was closed to the media and the public, word surfaced of Mettenberger getting into a scrap with some of the team's defensive linemen.

The thought of the quarterback getting into it with defenders has sparked plenty of reaction among LSU fans, but Les Miles said after Tuesday's practice that it's all part of healthy competition.

"At times when we go against each other, there's a natural competitive rivalry there that is certainly served. Those things happen," Miles said.

Much has been made this offseason about Mettenberger taking charge of a team that lost both of its experienced quarterbacks last season. It certainly seems like the junior is taking an active role in the team's development, which is something Miles endorsed -- provided Mettenberger can keep himself in check.

"I like his attitude. He just needs to keep a cool head," Miles said. "But he's in it -- he's competing like hell. I like him a lot."

Other issues concerned Miles more than his quarterback's competitive drive following Saturday's scrimmage. The team didn't keep any stats from the scrimmage, but Miles gave off a favorable impression of what his players look like with just two weeks until the spring game.

"We completed some balls, we ran the football well, we made some tackles," he said. "We didn't move the ball very well against the first team defense, and that's the way it's supposed to go."

With the note that Craig Loston is coming along and seemingly solidifying his hold on the strong safety spot beside Eric Reid, Miles said the defense is growing in leaps and bounds as spring goes on.

"I don't know that we had as good a Saturday scrimmage defensively as we had in a Tuesday practice today," he said. "The defense is playing even better today."

Ware dropped weight: Judging by the production of Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard in the second half of the 2011 season, it's fair to say Spencer Ware fell out of the spotlight after a strong start. Ware rushed for just 215 yards over the last seven games of the season, as opposed to 512 in the first seven.

That might have had something to do with Ware's one-game suspension against Auburn, but Miles said weight played a factor.

"He's down 10 pounds or so, and I think he's quicker and he makes a cleaner cut. He's better," Miles said.

With those pounds lost, Miles said Ware has had a more productive spring after he trailed off to end 2011.

"He gained weight through the season, and it was a little bit harder to make a cut and make a guy miss," he said. "He can still lose a little bit, but we're real close."

Students at spring practice: Miles spent a healthy chunk of his Tuesday press conference discussing a novel idea that's sure to cause a stir. On Thursday, March 29, Miles said he will open practice to LSU students who bring their ID.

With LSU as rigid as it is about the security of its practices, Miles seemed to have some doubts about the prudence of what he referred to as Student Appreciation Day. Miles said he wouldn't want any video cameras on hand to film the practice -- a tall order, considering the amount of LSU students with smart phones.

Miles discussed the entire event with his tongue firmly in his cheek, but it will be interesting to see what becomes of it.

"We're going to have them rid themselves of all electronics -- this will be very hard to do," he said with a laugh. "I really don't know how [the idea] happened. It certainly was a mistake."