PRACTICE REPORT: Aug. 6 Meetings

Determining exactly when a football season starts is an inexact procedure, but the 2005 LSU season was set in motion, of sorts, Saturday as all 105 players reported to campus to begin team meetings and prepare for Sunday's opening of fall practice.

The players all took physical examinations during the day as well as meeting with both academic and compliance advisors from the LSU Athletic Dept.

First-year Tiger Coach Les Miles briefly addressed the media Saturday afternoon before a scheduled team meeting and said he was excited about the prospect of starting fall camp with this team.

"This is a great day," he said. "It's good to finally get the team on campus and start to get better."

Miles said he believed summer conditioning went well for the squad as a whole and very few players reported Saturday overweight or not in top playing condition.

"Only two men failed the conditioning test, one of whom was operated on and the other needs to lose a little bit more weight," he said. "But there are men who have not passed that test before in their time. There are some guys who will run in the morning. That will be based on team discipline and reporting a little overweight."

He added that he didn't want to be too specific about who the two players are, saying only one will be counted on to play regularly this season and one would play sparingly, if at all.

Miles said the players all took a mandatory conditioning test July 29 following summer weight lifting and conditioning sessions. The team was then given time off between then and Saturday to rest and prepare for fall camp. Conducting the conditioning test at least a week before two-a-day practice starts is important to the health of the players because the test can wear some guys out and they made need that much time recover, he said.

He added he's never been a part of a team in which every player returned at his goal weight nor passed the conditioning test and believes the few Tigers who have weight to lose will do so quickly.

"There are three guys who need to lose a couple of pounds and will have to run until they get that done," he said.

Miles said his team returning for practice in top physical condition is one of the most important factors in determining the team's success early in the season.

"If they report in shape then you can start working on being the best team you can be as opposed to getting them in shape." he said. "We feel like this is a step in the right direction."

Practice for the next two weeks will be split into morning and evening sessions, Miles said, with the veterans practicing in the morning and the afternoon session being dedicated to the younger players. He stressed that all players will attend team meetings for both morning and afternoon sessions and incoming players will attend morning practice to observe and learn from the veterans.

He added that practice intensity will slowly increase until the team is hopefully able to play a 50-play scrimmage about 12 days before the first game.

"This system allows us to specialize and coach the younger guys much more," he said. "When the newcomers' practice comes in the P.M. they will already have gone through the A.M.'s meeting. So, they will have heard it once, and in the P.M. they will have heard it twice. When the youngest guys get on the field they will have met twice about the same information."

He added he is pleased with the progress of his freshman class both in physical conditioning and in the classroom.

"They have taken their finals and we'll know exactly how they did on Monday but I would guess our freshmen will be at about a 3.0 (GPA)," he said.

Practice over the next two weeks will give Miles and his staff a chance to settle who will start in the season opener at a couple of positions, he said. Specifically, he mentioned competition may be tight for the starting spot at left offensive guard, where red-shirt freshman Brett Helms and sophomore Will Arnold are listed one and two on the preseason depth chart. Also, he said he will be looking closely at cornerback where eight different players are ranked on the depth chart.

Miles said the pre-season depth chart released in the media guide is merely an indication of where the players finished after spring practice and may change in several spots before the season begins.

Specifically, Miles mentioned defensive end as a spot where the depth chart may change several times. Junior Chase Pittman is listed at the top of the chart at right end but is serving a suspension because of an off-campus fight last month. Junior Kirsten Pittman is the most experienced back-up, but he is listed third on the chart because injuries slowed him during spring practice, Miles said.

Miles also mentioned he was setting in motion the process of picking the team captains for 2005. Before Saturday night's team meeting, Miles said he was meeting with a group called the "Unity Council," a group composed of leaders from every individual squad on the team. Running backs, defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen and so on will be represented by one player who will voice concerns and speak to the coaching staff for their respective units.

"The players will vote on the captains and it will be a weekly reward, one based on coach's input, production and players' input," he said. "It won't be moved around much at all and at the end of the year those guys who were our best leaders and understood the position of leadership will be voted on and be the yearly captains."

Miles closed his address by answering an obligatory question about the South Louisiana heat in early August.

"You guys need to understand that it's a whole lot hotter where I've come from," he said. "It was a lot hotter when I was in Dallas for three years. Certainly there's some heat here and some humidity. I understand that. But there's a reason to practice and the reason is beyond the heat."

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