Fall Practice Report

Nick Saban said after Monday's practice that he wanted to work his team through a variety of adverse conditions to prepare them for whatever they might face in the 2001 season. After a wet and soggy start to the second week of fall practice, the Tigers had to grind it out under a baking sun in high humidity on Tuesday.

The conditions took their toll on true freshman walk-on Seth Wilson, an offensive lineman from Winter Haven, Fla. Wilson went down with heat stress symptoms about 45 minutes into the Tigers' workout and had to be carted off the field. Team physician Dr. Tommy John supervised the LSU training staff while they tended to Wilson, who remained conscious the entire time.

The two-a-day sessions of fall practice have produced the normal ebb and flow of minor injuries that keep individual players out of action for a day or two. While cornerback Randall Gay was able to return from a knee strain he suffered Sunday, running back/safety Domanick Davis did not take part in the Tuesday afternoon session due to an unspecified ankle injury. He walked fairly well with a brace around the injured joint and took part in team stretching exercises.

Linebacker Donovan Grayson missed his second day of practice with a ankle injury, although he was walking around much more confortably than compared to Monday. Joining him on the temporarily unable to perform list on Tuesday was junior linebacker Dave Peterson with an unspecified condition.

Despite the oven-like conditions, the healthy Tigers pressed on through the early afternoon practice with another session to look forward to later in the evening. One practice session - the first for the Tigers in full pads - is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Spotlighting the wide receivers on Tuesday, Tiger Rag continues to be impressed with the form of true freshman receiver Michael Clayton. Without seeing him in the team-on-team portion of practice, we feel fairly certain that he will make a strong push for playing time in 2001. Physically, he is the most imposing player at his position. 

By necessity, the wide receivers are probably the best conditioned group on the practice field due to all of the running they have to do through the course of the day. Veterans like Josh Reed, Jerel Myers and Jack Hunt are coming through strong under some pretty trying conditions.

As indicated by Wilson's difficulities, the heat probably takes its biggest toll on the linemen. Their bigger muscles hold more heat and they tend to have a much higher percentage of body fat, another heat conductor, compared to the skill players.

Despite their apparent disadvantages, the lineman seemed to handle things just fine in the early portion of Tuesday's practice. Assistant coach George Yarno kept the drills going at a steady pace but allowed ample recovery time for his unit.

Quietly but surely, Yarno appears to be putting together two solid offensive line units. The most common first unit Tiger Rag has seen includes Jason Baggett at right tackle, John Young at right guard, Rob Sale at center, Dwayne Pierce at left guard and Rodney Reed at left tackle. Behind them at those respective positions are Brad Smalling, Stephen Peterman, Jonathan Autrey, Kade Comeaux and Terry Phillips. Smalling and Baggett can be considered neck-and-neck, while Peterman is making tons of progress after moving in from tight end.

True freshmen Ben Wilkerson, Steve Arflin and Andrew Whitworth are probably going to push for time with the second strong line this season. If he has 10-12 players he can used at the various line positions, Yarno can enjoy a luxury few college coaches can boast.

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