SPRING PREVIEW: 10 questions about the Tigers

Every football coach enjoys spring practice. A coach can put his team through a series of practice sessions where there is no opponent to prepare for, no timetable to abide by and no pressure whatsoever.

The spring allows a team to try people at different positions, experiment with different situations and work on filling holes left vacant by departed players.


Heading into the spring, Les Miles and his staff will have several questions to answer before his team takes the field for real on Aug. 30 versus Mississippi State. Here we look at 10 pertinent questions concerning the Tigers as they begin spring drills this week.


1. How will Matt Flynn perform as the No. 1 guy? While Miles has reiterated the fact he hasn't named his starting quarterback for the 2007 season, is there any question that it won't be Flynn? After sitting behind quarterbacks Matt Mauck, Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell for the last four years, it is finally Flynn's time to shine in the starting role.


2. Will Alley Broussard ever make it back? When the media met with Miles last week for his pre-spring practice roundtable with the media, he detailed the Tigers' personnel at the running back position; Broussard wasn't a part of it. While the senior tailback is still enrolled at LSU, Miles said he is nowhere close to being ready to be a part of the mix of the Tigers' talented backfield rotation. When asked if Broussard's limitations pertained to his physical condition or attitude, Miles replied, "all of the above."


3. How will the Tigers adapt to three new offensive coaches? Since the Sugar Bowl, Miles has been faced with replacing three coaches on the offensive side of the ball. Out is offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, offensive line coach Stacey Searels and wide receivers coach Todd Monken. In is Gary Crowton (OC), Greg Studrawa (OL) and DJ McCarthy (WR).


4. Will Rickey Jean-Francois be ready to go? No one is quite sure what exactly are Jean-Francois' issues, but it has been reported to be academic related and it could cost the big defensive end the 2007 season. Miles wouldn't comment on what exactly the details were, but he hopes to have Jean-Francois ready to go soon.


5. Is Ryan Perrilloux out of hot water for good? Perrilloux's name was linked to a counterfeiting scandal in St. John the Baptist Parish in mid January. While the sophomore quarterback was never officially charged with a crime nor was he expected of any wrongdoing, he was brought in for questioning by the U.S. Secret Service. While there have been no new developments in the case in over a month, the investigation is ongoing.


6. Who will fill in the blanks at safety? The Tigers have been blessed with two of the best safeties in the country the last several years. LaRon Landry and Jesse Daniels combined to make up the best safety duo in all of college football the last three seasons. With both now headed to the NFL, it looks to be Craig Steltz and Curtis Taylor who will get nod.


7. Will "punt ugly" continue? A poster on the TigerRag.com message board made the joke that Chris Jackson's stomach ulcers came from having to punt in that bizarre punt formation the Tigers used last season. Miles joked about the formation last week, a formation he stubbornly defended all of last season. Will Patrick Fisher be forced to follow in Jackson's foot steps in the formation forever known as "punt ugly."


8. How will Jared Mitchell fit into the spring training rotation? Mitchell is LSU's star centerfielder for the Tiger baseball team, but he also should factor into significant playing time at wide receiver. Miles said last week that he and LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri negotiated a deal where Mitchell will participate in eight of LSU's 15 practices. Miles also said Mitchell will practice on days on which later he will play in a baseball game. Miles did add that Mitchell will not be expected to take part in particularly "taxing" drills.


9. How good is Richard Murphy? We never got a chance to see just how good the freshman really was last year as he reported to camp late then redshirted. But Justin Vincent said during the final week of August practices that he thought Murphy was the best running back on the team. We shall see.


10. Who will replace Buster Davis? Sure LSU loses its top two receivers in Davis and Dwayne Bowe, but Davis may be missed more for his ability to return punts. The Tigers' punt return game was in shambles until Bowe took over at midseason and was a star. Trindon Holliday has kickoff returns locked down, but Miles will be forced to audition new punt returners. Look for Jared Mitchell to be the odds on favorite.

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