Tigers conclude second week of drills

When asked if there was one specific area the team could improve upon during the remainder of spring practice, head coach Les Miles joked that the number of areas for improvement is closer to 153.

Two weeks into the football team spring practice, Miles said he still sees a lot of problems in the team, but also notices players catching on to their positions.


"We had some center to quarterback exchange problems and we had a couple of mistackles on defense," Miles said. "But on the other end, it's all fixable."


While the exchanges from center to quarterback give Miles a headache, he acknowledged the difficulty of the position, particularly for a player like Brett Helms who has not played center in college or high school.


"There's nothing natural with [the exchanges].  You have to work at it," Miles said "You have to put a lot of time in it.


"You have to understand what you're doing with your hands and then it becomes second nature."


Helms appears to the successor at center to Rudy Niswanger, a First-Team Academic All American.


Although following a distinguished player like Niswanger can be intimidating, Miles said Helms is quickly on his way to becoming the starting center for the Tigers.


Miles also said he wants to see improve on the defensive side of the ball.  Despite impressive performances in practice by defensive backs Jonathan Zenon and Daniel Francis, Miles is looking to get the defense playing more aggressively on the field and finishing tackles.


From what he has seen thus far, Miles said the relationship between new defensive line coach Earl Lane and his players appears to be strong.


"They enjoy his teaching and he enjoys their company. That's the way it ought to be," Miles said.


Miles also noted that the team has shown considerable improvement in the short amount of time they have practiced.


The offensive line, running backs, and secondary have all responded well to Miles's coaching, but the player who has grabbed Miles's attention is Trindon Holliday.


Listed on the roster as a running back, Holliday ran the 40 meter dash in 4.27 seconds.


Miles said Holliday's speed is perfect to fill the void at kick and punt returns left by Skyler Green.


"Trindon Holliday is going to be exciting to watch," Miles said. "He's going to be a great weapon for us."


Although Miles stopped short of calling Holliday the next Skyler Green, he did say that Holliday may have the biggest burst of speed of any player on the team, including Olympic sprinter Xavier Carter.


"[Holliday] may be the fastest guy in the country in 60 yards," Miles said.


Despite losing four seniors from last season's offensive line, Miles said the new guys are looking sharp in practice.


In addition to Helms, Miles acknowledged seniors Brian Johnson and Peter Dyakowski as guys who have looked impressive this spring.


Miles said the coaches are trying to instill consistency in these untested players. Remaining consistent with the play calls has been the focus for the offensive line this spring.


On the injury update, running back Alley Broussard continues to rehab his injured knee that he suffered in fall practice last season. Miles gave no indication on when Broussard could return working with the team.


Quarterback JaMarcus Russell began practicing on a soft toss this week as his injured shoulder continues to heal.


"It's really just a matter of time before he'll start throwing a football," Miles said.


With the spring football game less than two weeks away, Miles said the team will begin to increase its intensity at practice.


"We've laid the foundation, now we've got to improve on our execution," Miles said. "Right now it's time for us to play well, not just get it right, but to execute it at a high level."


He said in the next few days the team will begin full contact workouts, which should raise the players' performances at practice.


"You'll see a little bit more aggressive defensive play," Miles said. "You'll see, hopefully, better tackling.


"Offensively, this offensive line will be tested more in the next eight days than they have in the last seven."

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