SPRING PREVIEW: Miles, Tigers go back to work

Doesn't it seem just like yesterday JaMarcus Russell and the Tigers thrashed Notre dame in the AllState Sugar Bowl?

It wasn't quite yesterday. But just eight weeks after LSU closed out the 2006 season with a rousing 41-14 win over the Fighting Irish in New Orleans, the Tigers go back to work.


LSU opens spring training this afternoon at the Charles McClendon Practice facility with a 4 p.m. workout. Coach Les Miles will put his team through a total of 15 practice sessions over the next month and will cap off spring drills with the annual spring game on Saturday, March 24.


Miles met with the media last Friday as he previewed spring practice as well as introduced three new coaches to the LSU staff. The Tigers' third year head coach moved up spring drills almost a month from a year ago and added he is excited getting back to work.


"We will have great competition throughout the spring," Miles said. "The great thing about the spring is for many times it's the young guys' opportunity to make their mark."

Miles Said the great thing about the spring is the freedom to work on many different things without the pressure of having a game to play at the end of the week.


"There's not a lot of pressure on them to play a game on Saturday," Miles said. "So as a coach you have the opportunity to look at a number of guys. And that will be the operating rule for this spring. Competition will name the starters. We'll look forward to that kind of spring."


Offensively, Miles said he is excited to watch quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux compete for the starting job left vacant by JaMarcus Russell.


"On the offensive side, the two quarterbacks, both Flynn and Perrilloux, competition will be the operating word," Miles said. "We'll let that competition play out."


Miles then expounded on what he expects from the rest of the offense.


"The offensive line will graduate two starters," Miles said. "It's one where there's going to be some movement, some fixing and mending. Things that you know that are standards will be Brett Helms, Ciron Black and big Herman Johnson. Where they line up exactly, I'm not certain, and what guys move to the front. For instance, if we find us a tackle, Herman may be playing at guard. And if we find a guard, Herman may be playing a tackle.


"Keith Zinger returns it appears with health and looks big and strong and capable. So with the loss of two receivers – Dwayne Bowe and Buster Davis – Early Doucet certainly takes on a greater role. Brandon LaFell. And then finding the right combination third receiver and fourth receiver.


"R.J. Jackson will be running back and receiving prospect and we'll look at evolving skills. Both Mitchells – Jared and Chris – will certainly compete in there as a third and or a fourth receiver. And who knows maybe a second receiver. It just depends on how good they are."


On the defensive side of the ball, all-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey will sit out of spring training as he nurses a fractured shin bone. The Tigers will be faced with replacing both safeties, but for the most part, LSU's defense is stacked.


"Defensively, Glen Dorsey will not participate in the spring," Miles said. "Had a little bone issue and he'll be cleared and ready to roll in the fall. We'll still look at Favorite, Charles Alexander inside. Throw in big Joe Barksdale. Al Woods as well. Putting Barksdale and Al Woods next to each other one thing it will do is cast a very big shadow.


"At end, you look at Tyson Jackson and Tremaine Johnson and Rahim Alem and young Pep Livings. And the Ricky Jean Francois is a pretty proven commodity there. Seeing how that all fits will be a big key. A guy who had a pretty good off-season was Kirston Pittman at one of the ends. So those will be the guys that you'll see lined up there this spring.


"Losing two safeties, we feel really comfortable that both safeties that might step in or for that matter three safeties played a lot of football with Steltz really was a part-time starter at the strong and with Danny McCray playing a lot of the nickel and Curtis Taylor certainly with enough experience there to feel really confident. And looking at the Troy Giddens and some of the young guys there, spring is really an advantage for them. And then both corners return. The backups would be Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins."


On special teams, LSU must replace do-everything specialist Chris Jackson as well as Davis' outstanding exploits as the Tigers' punt returner.


"So it will be a big loss in the punting and kicking with Chris Jackson," Miles said. "Someone said to me that the athletic department received an e-mail that the reason Chris Jackson has a bleeding ulcer was that because he punted all season in this punt ugly formation and it really wore on him. (laughter)


"Specialists will return, come in with the freshmen class. We'll look at Pat Fisher and other guys. Colt David will still handle our field goal and extra point and kicking off. We're looking for a live leg for the spring.


"Long snapping will be Jacob O'Hare is there and ready to roll. Knee operated on. He'll participate in non-contact position all spring."

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