Day 1 in the books

Under an overcast sky and battling wind and rain, LSU kicked off spring practice on Friday afternoon. has the recap, from practice tidbits to reactions from coach Les Miles.

Football is back in Baton Rouge.

On Friday, LSU took to the practice fields for the first time since Jan. 9.

For coach Les Miles, erasing the memories of the 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship began this afternoon.

"Any time you finish a season and didn't finish the last game like you would have liked, you look forward to getting that feeling behind you," Miles said. "The next time you take the field, it's as good for you as there is."

ESPN's Holly Rowe talks with Les Miles on day one of practice

With a black cloud seemingly following the program over the past two months, from players leaving for the NFL to recruits passing on signing with LSU, Miles is confident that the positive vibes are back in the locker room.

"I don't know that I reconciled it fully, and I don't know that I have taken the pulse of the team in an open forum, but I have certainly heard it and been around it, and I think our guys understand they accomplished 13-1," Miles said.

"But they, like me, wanted to win that last one, and there is a little more want to practice and prepare. There is a group of men there that want to finish."

What stood out from the opening day?

Here are some quick hitters from the 25 minutes of practice that the media was allowed to view.

  • Two defensive players were missing on the first day: junior cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and senior defensive end Chancey Aghayere.

    Mathieu is finishing up his whirlwind awards tour, which began with a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation in December and ends in Atlantic City, N.J., on Friday with an honorary dinner for winning the Bednarik Award.

    Aghayere was spotted after practice in street clothes. He didn't show any signs of injury.

  • Safety Eric Reid was in pads but not working out at full speed.

    Reid was spotted favoring his back, but Miles said there is no worry on the health of the third-year safety.

    "He's out there practicing," Miles said.

    At one point, junior Craig Loston and redshirt freshman Micah Eugene manned the two safety spots. Senior Rocky Duplessis and sophomores Ronald Martin and Sam Gibson also saw reps.

  • In a backfield crowded with young running backs, will the staff end up moving someone to another position?

    Junior Alfred Blue (6-2, 215) could have played linebacker in the SEC, but elected to stick to running back.

    Kenny Hilliard will compete for the starting RB job

    Now, Miles said he is contemplating the idea of giving Blue a crack at another position on the offensive side.

    "I am not so certain (Blue) is not our best tailback," Miles said. "That's one of the reasons we are moving slowly there."

  • Jeremy Hill, wearing No. 33 and listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, joined the running back group for the first time after enrolling at LSU in January.

    Though Hill looks the part physically, the former Redemptorist star will use the spring to get back into playing shape after missing the entire 2011 season after he passed on signing with a school last February.

    "Hill is a guy who is getting some rust off him," Miles said. "He hasn't played football in a year, and he kind of looks it. But he's coming."

  • Hill wasn't the only early enrollee that caught the eye of Miles.

    After getting hands on with offensive guard Vadal Alexander (6-6, 315), Miles is happy with at least one offensive line piece in the class of 2012.

    "I think Alexander has a lot of real upside to him," Miles said. "He has done some good things, he has really good feet and is really athletic.

    "He's huge right now; he is too big. He is losing weight, and you see he's very talented."

    Linebackers Lamar Louis and Ronnie Feist also got positive reviews after day one.

    "The two linebackers, both of those guys will be good players," Miles said.

  • With three seniors graduated from the linebacker position, will Miles turn to the incoming crop of freshmen or rely on veteran bodies?

    For now, count two linebackers in for a starting spot.

    Luke Muncie could grab the open linebacker spot

    "I think we start with (Kevin Minter) and Tahj Jones, then we look to see where we are at," Miles said. "There are some other guys that can step in and play that are veteran.

    "Then we bring in a talented, young linebacker corps, guys that can fly. I think we will have plenty of depth."

  • One of the biggest position debates of the spring will surround the left guard spot.

    So far four offensive linemen appear to have starting spots locked up: junior Chris Faulk at left tackle, senior P.J. Lonergan at center, junior Josh Williford at right guard and senior Alex Hurst at right tackle.

    That leaves sophomore La'el Collins battling sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk for the open spot at left guard, and with Dworaczyk approaching his road back to the field with caution, Collins is taking the majority of the reps with the starters.

    "Josh can practice, it's more of a choice," Miles said. "We will probably get him back in as spring ball gets going.

    "The good thing about La'el after a year, he is much more confident and comfortable with the things we are calling. It really takes about a year to understand your assignments fully, and then technically, you have to figure out how to do it. That is your second year, and that is where he is at.

    "If he can come on there, I think he will be playing. He is easily one of the bigger, stronger guys that we have."

  • On the opposite side of the line, the Tigers have to replace two starters: Ken Adams at defensive end and Michael Brockers at defensive tackle.

    Given the return of junior Sam Montgomery and emergence of junior Barkevious Mingo, the two defensive end spots are likely spoken for.

    That leaves a group of bodies battling on the interior, including returning starter Bennie Logan.

    Can senior Josh Downs nab a spot at defensive tackle?

    "I think Anthony Johnson, Ego Ferguson, Bennie Logan, Josh Downs, those guys are the guys inside," Miles said. "I think we have some talent there. Those guys can step in and play.

    "It's very competitive. I enjoyed what I saw from young and old."

  • First-year wide receivers coach Adam Henry has plenty of talent at his disposal, so the task becomes finding reliable pass-catchers to step up and help replace the void left by Rueben Randle.

    Though he is not ready to name a starting group, Miles did speak positively of the crop of receivers the staff has assembled.

    "I like seeing the guys we got there," Miles said. "(Odell Beckham Jr.) is certainly going to be a very key contributor … it's time for some of these young guys to step forward.

    "Russell Shepard, this is his time.

    "And we have a pretty good class of wide receivers coming in."

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