LSU lost all four starters off the ‘08 line, and the first-day replacements were Drake Nevis and Al Woods in the middle with Rahim Alem and Lazarius Levingston occupying the ends. The second team saw Charles Alexander, back for a sixth year, in the middle with Cordian Hagans, while Chase Clement and Sidell Corley took up the outside.
The D-line got to work with the standard group in individual drills, and it was a bit surreal to see new line coach Brick Haley working with the guys instead of Earl Lane. Haley made sure the team knew it was back to work when he got in Corley’s face for not hustling.
It was nice to see Chancey Aghayere getting some work with Coach Haley, only this time he wasn’t in non-contact green. Haley also took some one-on-one time with Alexander and Woods, helping them with their footwork coming off the ball.
The offensive line is another group that’s going to be missing some familar faces - namely, Brett Helms and Herman Johnson. Coach Studrawa was back at work with almost everyone at full capacity — except T-Bob Hebert, who was in a green non-contact jersey.
Coach Stud’s first team was Hebert at center with Lyle Hitt and Josh Dworaczyk at guard. The tackles were the familar mugs of Ciron Black and Joseph Barksdale. There’s been some that Hitt might try his hand at center this spring, but there was no hint of that going on today.
Coach Stud’s backups were Will Blackwell at center, Clay Spencer and Thomas Parsons at guard, and Alex Hurst and Gregory Shaw lined up at tackle.
Everyone’s attention going into this spring is at the quarterback position, as they wait to see if Jefferson will be able to establish himself over Jarrett Lee as the starting quarterback, and if Shepard is ready to see the field next year.
Well if tomorrow were the first game of the 2009 season, the answer to both questions would most likely be no. Jefferson seemed to have some trouble with his release as several balls came out of his hand wobbly and low. Lee looked much more comfortable throwing the ball in the time we were allowed to watch, hitting his receiver in the chest and in stride on the majority of his throws.
Shepard also seemed a bit uncomfortable throwing the ball, and he also struggled with his accuracy and throwing a consistent spiral. He is noticeable smaller than the other quarterbacks, both in height and weight.
However, Chris Garrett, the Tigers’ other spring enrollee at the quarterback position, looked like a veteran throwing the ball this afternoon. Garrett showed a good release, good touch on his fade routes, and good accuracy in general overall. Garrett has good size and looks to be a legitimate 6-4.
The halfbacks were all the same old faces Tiger fans are used to seeing. Charles Scott was the first in every single drill with Richard Murphy and Keiland Williams alternating second. Stevan Ridley also got a few chances to go as No. 2 and No. 3, but was usually the No. 4 back as the backfield worked on high steps and protecting the ball.
Jefferson and Shepard got to do some work with the tailbacks while we were there. The quarterbacks usually work on the option while the media is around, but Jefferson worked a lot under center, handing the ball to the weapons lined up behind him.
Shepard got some work running the read option. The freshman took turns giving it off to Scott and Williams, but the coaches didn’t give him any opportunities to keep it while we were around. Knowing the way Les Miles works, they’ll probably be keeping the nation’s No. 1 recruit on a pretty tight leash while the cameras are present.
Another position with some question marks heading into the spring is wide receiver, especially who will step up as the second and third receivers after Brandon Lafell. The wide receivers worked in pairs throughout this afternoon’s drills, and Lafell was always paired with Chris Mitchell. The rest of the receivers changed partners throughout the different drills. Terrance Toliver, RJ Jackson, and John Williams are the other veterans battling with Mitchell for depth chart positioning.
Tim Molton, Chris Tolliver, and Jhyryn Taylor all looked like they put in some extra time in the weight room over the winter as they were all noticeably bigger than when last fall during their freshman seasons. They are also vying for a higher spot on the depth chart with the previously mentioned players.
The other freshman receiver from last year, Deangelo Peterson, was practicing with the tight ends this afternoon. The Tigers are going to be in need of a pass catching tight end after Richard Dickson graduates this season, and Peterson was always a little on the heavier and slower side for a receiver, so this move makes sense. While he is noticeably smaller than the other tight ends right now, Peterson could end up being very much like Cornelius Ingram was for the Florida Gators two seasons ago.
At linebacker, the first string for now appears to be Jacob Cutrera in the middle, flanked by Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard on the outside. After that the depth is unclear as several players mixed in at different positions including Ryan Baker, Ace Foyil, Kyle Prater, and Kevin Minter. Linebackers coach John Chavis sent the linebackers through various footwork drills for the majority of practice as it appears he’s trying to improve their technique and foot speed. Minter looked to be about 6-0 as he is listed, but physically he looked just as big as the older players. Kellen Theriot was not with the linebackers at today’s practice.
At defensive back, Coach Ron Cooper had the players working on their pursuit angles to start practice. After that Cooper took the cornerbacks and a grad assistant took the safeties, and both groups worked on their footwork and backpedal technique. The players never really lined up in depth order, so it’s still unclear what the secondary depth chart may look like. However, it does appear that Cooper might be doing away with the designated right and left cornerback positions from the past few seasons as the cornerbacks lined up on both sides throughout drills.
As for individual players, Chad Jones looked like he has put on some weight, especially in the upper body. He was also very vocal during today’s drills. Harry Coleman was practicing at safety today despite the rumors of him switching to linebacker. And Drayton Calhoun was with the cornerbacks at today’s practice despite being listed as a running back on the roster. Calhoun looks shorter than the 6-0 he is listed, but the 175 listed for his weight looked about right. Of all the early enrollees, he looks the furthest away from being ready to play from a physical standpoint.
There was no special teams work while the media was allowed at practice and those players wearing green other than the quarterbacks were Shomari Clemons, Orlando Gunn and T-Bob Hebert.
Players missing from practice included Kellen Theriot, Stefoin Francois and Kentravis Aubrey.
The Tigers will be back on the practice fields on Friday and TigerSportsDigest.com will be on hand for more photo galleries, video, practice reports and analysis.