Tigers concentrate on spring improvements

You don't usually hear about the dog days of football until August rolls around and LSU is in the midst of fall practice. Although the current conditions of spring practice are nothing like the intense late summer heat that lies ahead, the Tigers are now encountering one of the rougher stretch of off-season preparations. <br><br> With no game to look forward to until Sept. 1 at Virginia Tech, players must concentrate on the goals of spring practice – improvement that comes one day at a time.

"You're kind of putting hay in the barn, stocking up for next year," said offensive tackle Rodney Reed. "So in the fall, you come in at a higher point than you would have left off with.

Scrimmaging is the next best thing to a game the players have to look forward to, and the second one takes place on Saturday. The first scrimmage was held last weekend and the team got to work on corrections Monday.

The defense enjoyed a decisive advantage in the first game simulation as the offense struggled to find its timing, especially through the air. According to linebacker Bradie James, it was not surprising to see such a stingy defense right off the bat.

"I feel like the first scrimmage should be defense-dominated," James said. "The offense has to get in sync. I'm sure by the next scrimmage the offense will be ready.

"We just got a chance to be more active out there on the defensive side of the ball, so we were able to get after them a little bit more."

James continued to practice at the MIKE linebacker on Monday, continuing his transition from the WILL spot where Lionel Turner has taken over. Although stressing that the move has not been designated as a permanent one, James said he feels he will be able to make more plays from the MIKE position.

"Our whole defense is designed so that everybody can make played," he said. "But I think I will make more plays at MIKE because I won't be screen like I was at WILL."

Backing up James at MIKE is his former West Monroe teammate, Jason LeDoux, who transferred to LSU after spending a year at Texas A&M. LeDoux places James high on the list of players he's lined up alongside.

"Bradie's a real good guy to have around," said LeDoux. "He's definitely the kind of guy you want beside you in a fight. I've got a lot of confidence in him. He's a smart player, a tough player.

"If he gets anything less than All-America this year, I'm going to be really upset with him. I really look for big things from him, and I look forward to playing with him this year."

LeDoux says he relished the chance to play behind talented linebackers, taking an educational approach to improving his skills when given the chance. The process started when he was at Texas A&M.

"Even though Dat Nguyen left before I got there," said LeDoux. "I got to talk with him on recruiting visits and talked to other guys there about him. I watched film of Dat Nguyen and tried to picked things up from him.

"When I transferred here, I was real excited to have the chance to play behind Trev Faulk. He's a great player. There's a lot of positive you can get from being a back-up, especially behind great football players like Trev Faulk."

One player who is no longer playing behind anyone is tight end Eric Edwards. After two seasons of filling in for Joe Domingeaux and Robert Royal, Edwards finds himself on the first-string and having to get used to the new role.

"This is my first time being a starter, and I'm working a lot with the ones," said Edwards. "I have to communicate since they were used to working with the other two tight ends. We're trying to get on the same page."

The Tigers are just past the halfway point of spring practice with the Spring Game scheduled for Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. in Tiger Stadium. After that, it's another four months before LSU plays in front of a crowd.

"You just have to focus on personally getting better every practice," said Reed. "If you focus on the games, it gets real monotonous out there. If you focus on personal improvement, I think spring goes by much faster."

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