Tigers bouncing back well in practice

LSU football coach Nick Saban mentioned that his team had reached their conditioning limit and "hit the wall" during one of the weekend's practice sessions, but his summary of Monday's morning workout indicates the Tigers have crashed through that barrier.

Saban said team was energetic and responded well to coaches as they implemented the fundamentals of offense and defense inside the 10-yard line along with their two-point conversion strategy.

"I think when we do new things like that, the players tend to be spirited about it," said Saban. "They don't get bored with doing the same things over and over."

In a media gathering on Monday, Saban updated reporters on the status of two players who were not at practice. Senior center Jason Underwood has decided to transfer to Tennesee-Martin for his final year of eligibility, and redshirt freshman running back Derron Parquet is currently deciding whether or not he wants to continue playing at LSU.

Team doctors would not clear Underwood to practice or play this fall following his second surgery for a torn ACL, so he decided to transfer in order to play in his final year of eligibility. Saban granted Underwood his release and said he foresees a bright future for the Baton Rouge-Episcopal product – with or without football.

"If there's anybody that I would like my son to grow up and be like, it would be Jason Underwood," Saban stated. "He's a good student, a hard worker. He's an over-achieving guys, and I'm sure he's going to be very successful in life. We're very sorry he's not going to be able to finish his career here."

Underwood signed with LSU in 1997 as a defensive lineman and moved over to offense in 1999. His only action last season came against Western Carolina, and his second ACL injury was not football related.  

Parquet, who led all Tigers rushing in Saturday's scrimmage with 61 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, did not practice Sunday or Monday.

"He's working through some personal things with his family to decide what his future's going to be," Saban said. "That's probably the only comment I should make right now. We're leaving the door open for him. But if he chooses to go elsewhere, we're going to wish him well, too, because he's a fine young man and a good player."

While not mentioning any connection to Parquet's situation, Saban commented on the state of mind some freshmen adopt after reading too many of their own headlines during the recruiting process. He believes many players end up disappointed when the reality of their situation as a new, inexperienced college player sets in.

"Everybody can't always get what they want…relative to being on the field," he said. "I think some of the things I've talked about, relative to expectations people get put on them, are because of all of the recruiting coverage. ‘This guy is the best this in the country. He's the best that in the country. He's going to make an impact when he's a freshman.'

"We really put these guys in a situation where they become frustrated if they don't become immediate starters. It's a tough situation to put an 18-year-old guy in, and some guys really struggle with that. They feel like they're failing when they're doing extremely well."

Injuries and the heat are taking less of a toll on the Tigers, as fewer players are being held out of action. Defensive tackle Muskingum Barnes was carted off the field with an unspecified problem, but the only players who didn't dress out for practice due to various ailments ailment were tight end Marcus Spears (Achilles tendon strain), running back Elice Parker (twisted ankle), offensive guard Kade Comeaux (shoulder), and running back Ryan Gilbert (knee). All of the above players except Gilbert are expected to return to practice in a day or two according to Saban.

A patellar tendon injury has put Gilbert on the sidelines since freshman-only practices, and Saban says the status of Gilbert's knee is such that he is prone to suffer same injury again. Gilbert has been able to jog some, but Saban said his recovery has not gone as quickly as expected.

Defensive linemen Jarvis Green and Howard Green were excused from Monday's practice in order to attend the funeral of Jarvis' grandmother. Howard is Jarvis' cousin. 

Asked about his offensive line, Saban said the unit is making progress but still has room to improve in the mental portion of the game. He added that the staff is not ready to pick five starters from the group but did say that sophomore Stephen Peterman is in the mix with John Young at right tackle.

Peterman, who signed with LSU as a tight end out of Waveland, Miss., played as a defensive end last season and asked to be moved to tight end back in spring practice. But upon realizing he would be no better than the fourth tight end on the Tigers' roster, he approached Saban about another position change.

"He came in one day and said, ‘I'll play wherever you want me to play, and I think I can play on the offensive line,'" Saban recalled. "When fall camp started, we moved him to offensive guard. We thought that was a great position for him. He's a tough guy, has good athletic ability, good feet and has power and punch. (He) has made excellent progress."

HEAD GAMES: Saban has brought back in noted sports psychiatrist Dr. Lionel Rosen to work with his team. Using the process he learned as an assistant in the NFL, Saban is asking Rosen and his colleagues to come up with psychological profiles of every member of the team. Saban first worked with Rosen at Michigan State, where Rosen was a track-and-field All-American and currently holds a position on the school's faculty.

Saban says mental health professionals are helpful to a college athletic program when it comes to identifying problems that may affect a student-athlete's performance on the field and in the classroom. LSU has also hired specialists to help identify learning disabilities and other barriers that may hinder a player from reaching his potential.

CONGRATS: Although he was at practice with the Tigers when David Toms captured the PGA Championship, Saban said he caught the highlights of the former LSU All-American on ESPN late Sunday.  

"I didn't see it until about midnight last night on SportsCenter," he said. "I think it's great for him and his family. He's had some tremendous success this year, and its going to be a great opportunity for him to play for the Ryder Cup.

"I think it's great when LSU people do well. He's one of the classiest guys out there in terms of how he represents himself and the fact that he is a former LSU Tiger."

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