Saban previews spring practice

Just when the LSU basketball teams are drawing maximum attention from Tiger fans, it is time to talk football once again.<br><br>Head coach Nick Saban met members of the media Wednesday for a roundtable discussion before the start of spring practice.

The Tigers hold the first of 15 workouts on Monday, March 17, at 3 p.m. at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility. The 15th and final practice is the annual Spring Game, set for Friday, April 11, at 5 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

"We are in our fifth and final week of the offseason program," Saban said. "I like the way our players have worked. We have had very few problems."

Spring workouts are taking place earlier this season at LSU because of the school's academic calendar. Saban said he did not want spring break to fall in the middle of spring drills as it did last year.

The downside of having spring practice earlier than in years past is some players having less time to rehabilitate injuries suffered during the 2002 season.

"Most of our injuries are from last season," Saban said. "Moving spring practice up hasn't given these players the proper amount of time to heal."

The two most notable injured LSU players are quarterback Matt Mauck (foot ligament) and wide receiver Devery Henderson (broken arm).

Saban said Mauck has experienced some complications recently after having a screw removed from his foot, but he is expected to return. This removal procedure forced Mauck to miss ten days of the offseason program.

Henderson, he added, is also progressing.

"Matt continues to make good progress with his foot," Saban said. "He was doing fourth-fifths of what everybody else was doing, but was having some problems with a tendon rubbing against one of the screws in his foot. So they removed the screw."

Others LSU players mending from offseason corrective surgery include Marquise Hill (shoulder), Ben Wilkerson (back), Randall Gay (shoulder), Kory Hebert (shoulder) and Torran Williams (foot).

"We will limit their contact in the spring," Saban said. "That is easier to do for a player like Randall Gay, but not as easy for a lineman."

Saban said he hopes to evaluate some of the less experienced players on his roster over the 15 sessions of spring practice.

"There are some guys in our recruiting class that can contribute and add depth to this team next year," Saban said. "What we worry about in spring practice, though, is coaching the guys that are here now."

Saban detailed the three major objectives his coaching staff will try to convey to the Tigers this spring.

"Establish identity as a team," he listed. "Establish team chemistry and improve the discipline and execution of our offense, defense and special teams. It is always a goal in spring practice to try and get your best players on the field. That is what we intend to do."

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