- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - LSU receiver Malachi Dupre looks ready to fulfill the promise he showed during an intermittently spectacular freshman season.

Dupre produced some of the most memorable highlights from LSU’s spring game Saturday, making a difficult adjustment on a 37-yard touchdown reception from Anthony Jennings and a diving catch on a 35-yard scoring strike from Brandon Harris.

“I’m very confident moving forward. The difference is I have a year under my belt,” Dupre said. “I know what I have to do to dominate.”

The sophomore from suburban New Orleans was the nation’s top-rated recruit at receiver in 2014, when he made 14 catches for 318 yards and five TDs.

He had four catches Saturday for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Harris and Jennings, who are competing for the starting job, split time with the first-team offense.

Jennings, who’ll be a junior next season, finished 13 of 20 for 242 yards and two TDs. Harris, who’ll be a sophomore, was 11 of 17 for 178 yards and two scores.

“Our quarterbacks are more capable, more confident,” coach Les Miles said. “Who’s the best quarterback? I’m going to defer and let competition play out.”

LSU’s White squad, comprised mostly of projected starters, beat the Purple squad, 45-6. But the score mattered less than individual performances, particularly with a number of players splitting snaps with both squads.

LSU went 8-5 last season, 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference, marking the third straight season they fell short of a league or even division title. So Miles will be under increasing pressure get the Tigers back into contention in what will be his 11th season next fall.

Here are a few observations from LSU’s spring game:

QB COMPETITION: Both quarterbacks performed better with the White squad.

Harris’ second TD went for 41 yards to 2014 leading receiver Travin Dural, who was wide open behind sophomore defensive back Russell Gage. Harris’s 45-yard strike to D.J. Chark also came with the White offense.

“I want to come out and prove how much I’ve improved personally and how much the team has improved,” Harris said. “You can finally see I’m able to show the talent God’s blessed me with and do it confidently rather than playing sporadic and, you know, scared.”

Jennings began the game with the White offense, completing a 33-yard pass to tight end Colin Jeter on his first play. He found Dupre for the game’s opening TD on the next snap.

“My poise is better. I think my command of the offense is even better,” Jennings said, but added that he was upset about two deep overthrows to Dural and a short pass he missed to Dupre in the end zone. “Some of the things I missed, that’s big in my eyes, so I want to continue to look at that.”

NEWCOMERS: Defensive back Kevin Toliver II, QB Justin McMillan and fullback David Ducre - all freshmen who took part in spring practice after enrolling early in January - each made their mark on the game.

Toliver, a top-rated recruit at his position, played cornerback for both defenses. He intercepted Harris’ long pass toward the left sideline, but also let Dural get open deep twice. His mistakes went unpunished because Jennings overthrew Dural both times.

“He’s a very talented guy, big strong guy who can play physical football,” Miles said of Toliver. “We look forward to playing him in a number of spots next fall.”

Freshman quarterback Justin McMillan made the most of brief action in the second half. He hit tight end DeSean Smith over the middle for a 50-yard TD strike on only his third play.

Ducre scored the lone TD for the Purple squad on a 2-yard run.

GROUND GAME: Sophomore running back Leonard Fournette rushed only eight times for 42 yards. Coaches already know he’s LSU’s best running back, if not a Heisman Trophy candidate, so they limited his exposure to hits. Derrel Williams rushed 10 times for 40 yards, including a 5-yard TD run.

ABSENCES: Defensive end Lewis Neal (ankle), tight end Jacory Washington (knee), defensive tackle Quentin Thomas (arm), safety Corey Thompson (knee) and defensive back Dwayne Thomas (shoulder) were rested primarily as a precaution and are expected to be ready for August camp.

Miles said he has suspended freshman defensive tackle Travonte Valentine and instructed him to “go to school, go to class, take care of your business, and if he does that, handles behavior, there will be a future for him here.”

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