All the while, Tharold Simon is busy taking care of business.
In the wake of Patrick Peterson and Mo Claiborne, Simon is expected to carry the torch for a defensive backfield that has grabbed national attention in recent years.
"As soon as Pat left and as soon as Mo left, I knew I had to step up," Simon said. "I knew I had to take over a big role.
"I had to get my mind right and work hard in the offseason. I had to come out and get ready to take over for one of the best."
|Tharold Simon will anchor the CB spot in 2012|
Simon appeared in 12 games in 2011 with two starts – sitting out against Auburn when he served a one-game suspension for what was reportedly a failed drug test – and led the team with 10 pass breakups, a mark that was also good for third in the SEC.
"I felt like I had a good year," Simon said. "But I think I can do a lot more for the team this year. All I have to do is be prepared and I will be able to handle it."
For Collins, that means literally trailing Simon in every practice.
"I have been working behind Simon all spring," Collins said. "He is teaching me a lot. I just learn a lot from watching him and guys like Tyrann and Mo Claiborne."
Despite being in the thick of the hunt for playing time, Collins is keeping things in perspective.
Between taking a redshirt last fall and adjusting to a new position coach, the spring is Collins' first real chance to step out into the world of college football.
"I am still learning," Collins said. "It's a process. I might be close to getting to the field, but I am finding out this spring that I have a lot to learn to prove I can be out there in big situations."
Prior to injury last year, Dworaczyk had started 26 straight games.
For Collins, a sophomore who played in seven games with no starts last fall, getting first-team reps with Dworaczyk sidelined this spring is the perfect recipe for a starting job.
"The spring is where I am going to show the coaches they can count on me," Collins said. "They can put me in the game and I will be smart."
Miles said Collins is on pace to lock up a spot on the field, whether that means as a starter or a utility man at both left guard and left tackle.
For the rising sophomore, that means every rep this spring counts.
"I am very serious about locking up a spot, so I'm getting after it hard in the weight room, the film room and on the field," Collins said. "Coach Miles and Coach (Greg) Studrawa have me playing guard and backing up Chris Faulk at left tackle. Whenever they need me, I want them to know I'm ready."
|Mettenberger has taken all the first-team reps at QB this spring|
"I think this fan base really likes that there is just one guy now," Mettenberger said. "I've been working hard to be a leader for this team since those guys left campus."
Through one week of practice this spring, Mettenberger's outlook on the team is as positive as any you'll find.
"We've been looking great," Mettenberger said. "There's so much talent on this team, and it's just about putting it all together. I think we're focused on that now. 13-1 was nice, but it ended badly.
"I know these guys are ready go out there and get it done next year. I can see in these practices that the work is being put in. We learned last year what it took to get there."
From day one, Landry said the two shared a common goal: Join forces to help make the Tigers one of the top passing attacks in the country.
"Zach is like a brother now," Landry said. "He is a great quarterback and knows he has some great wide receivers. He has been working out with us since the season ended, and he doesn't let up.
"We come out and work on routes with the other receivers and work out together. It's all about building that bond. If we have it, we don't think defenses can stop us."
Landry also spoke highly of new wide receivers coach Adam Henry.
"He is really going to take these receivers to the next level," Landry said. "I thought I knew a lot about the position, but in a short amount of time he has brought his NFL experience to me and I've learned some brand new stuff that will help shape my game.
"Coach Henry is intense, too. He's not going to let us slack off. I think with a quarterback like Mettenberger and a great coach like (Henry), we are set for some big things. The passing game should definitely look a little better."