Entering his eighth season, Tigers coach Les Miles was pleased with the first day or work, which coincided with his team being tabbed No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' pre-season poll – the first time LSU will start a season on top of a major poll since 1959.
Miles, whose team was No. 1 the final 11 weeks the 2011 regular season before losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, said the Tigers are thankful but mindful that this ranking isn't nearly as meaningful as the one when the final game of the season is finished.
"They recognize that they have to earn their spot," he said. "There are lots of games to be played between now and being the actual No. 1."
The focal point of Thursday's two practices, which were mostly divided among veterans and freshmen/newcomers, was the debut of quarterback transfer Rob Bolden in the afternoon session.
LSU's freshmen and newcomers, with a few veterans sprinkled in, hit the field for the afternoon session indoors.
Bolden shared quarterback duties with redshirt freshman Jerrard Randall and another transfer, Brad Kragthorpe.
Although the periods that the media was allowed to watch were all skeleton drills, there was no question that Bolden has a live arm and plenty of zip on his delivery. Some of the younger receivers had trouble handling his passes at times – reminiscent of JaMarcus Russell working with the younger group in 2004.
LSU coach Les Miles said he liked what he saw from Bolden, who spent the last two seasons at Penn State before seeking a transfer to LSU in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
"I think finding cadence and finding how we do things is very difficult," Miles said. "I thought he did a good job. It's obvious that he's had some experience and knows how to handle the huddle and what to expect."
Thursday was the first time Bolden stepped on the field, but he got a chance to meet most of his new teammates Wednesday after the team reported.
Part of that introduction was a ceremony inside the practice facility when banners representing the 2011 SEC West regular-season and overall league championships were unveiled.
"I met him (Wednesday) night at the team meeting; he's a great guy," starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger said. "You can tell he's really smart. There's a reason he started his freshman year under (late Penn State coach Joe Paterno). I'm looking forward to working with him. This team has really embraced him with open arms. He's part of the family now. Hopefully he's willing to come in and work like the rest of us."
The two players who figure to be the most affected by Bolden's arrival are redshirt freshmen Stephen Rivers and Jerrard Randall, neither of whom has taken a college snap.
Mettenberger was in their shoes last season and said he expects the two younger QBs to be motivated.
"They don't want to lose their No. 2 and 3 spots," Mettenberger said. "It will make them work a whole lot harder."
Other notes, quotes and observations from the two practice sessions on opening day:
Miles said the mixing and matching was by design to get a young and talented crew of linebackers comfortable with communication and where to line up.
In the afternoon, Muncie and Welter looked the part of older players – much more bulked up and familiar with the drills. Defensive coordinator John Chavis wasn't holding back in the afternoon session and scolded the LB group several times.