The end of Thursday's practice session marked the beginning of spring break for LSU, giving the Tigers a ten-day respite before practice resumes on Monday, April 8. Despite the players looking forward to the annual college ritual, the concentration level of the team met the approval of head coach Nick Saban.
"I guess the real question is what will they remember when we come back to practice," Saban said.
After four practices, Saban believes his veteran players are demonstrating a good resource of knowledge based upon what they've learned over the past two seasons. Younger players, many of whom are going through a crash course with hopes of becoming contributors next season, will hopefully be able to absorb what they have been taught over the break, according to Saban.
Although the Tigers won't be on the practice fields next week, they are being asked to maintain the ground they've gained so far in the off-season. Saban said each player is being asked to lift weights three times and put in three conditioning runs while they're off from school.
"We didn't want to put restrictions on them," said Saban. "Spring break, if you base it upon what you watch on television, can be a good time in terms of what college students do. But I think our players know they are held to a higher standard."
Saban gave progress reports on a few of the players who are being tried out at new positions this spring, a couple of whom have worked personally with him in the secondary. Wide receivers Jack Hunt and Corey Webster are progressing well at safety and cornerback, respectively, but Saban feels both were showing signs of information overload in Thursday's practice.
At middle linebacker, Saban has not seen any separation between the two players vying to replace Trev Faulk - Jason LeDoux and Lionel Turner.
"I don't think either has put together the kind of performance we need at the position," he said. "But we're hopeful and positive about whether they will be ready for the fall."
Saban has similar expectations from some of the younger players along the defensive line. Specifically, Marcus Spears and Marquise Hill should be called upon more after getting into the action regularly as true freshmen. Redshirt freshman Melvin Oliver has "moved up at least to the second team" according to Saban, and redshirt junior Torran Williams needs to be more responsible off the field regarding his academics.
Saban had positive words regarding the competition among Matt Mauck, Marcus Randall and Rick Clausen, but said he expects more from the players at the position than he's currently seeing.
"We need to make a lot of improvement at quarterback in general," said Saban. "We need to make a lot of improvement in the way we throw the ball. We have new faces throwing it and new faces catching, and I think the lack of timing between the two is showing. That's something they can work on and improve."
Along the offensive line, Saban says he is pleased with the quality of players he has at his disposal but is not yet satisfied with the depth situation.
Through one week of practice, Brandon Williams has not reported to Saban, who said last Saturday the safety from Port Allen is dealing with personal issues regarding his status at LSU and on the football team.
Linebacker Tim Pope continues to work with the team after having been suspended through most of last season. Saban said while Pope is doing what's required of him on the football field, he still has to prove himself in the classroom."We can say that we are doing everything possible to give him the best chance to be a success as a student and a person," said Saban.