BATON ROUGE - The weather outside could have led one to believe LSU was in the middle of bowl practice in December with temperatures in the 40s and a cold rain pounding the campus. Instead, Monday was the first day of spring drills for the Tigers as those conditions forced LSU indoors for its first practice session of the spring.
The Tigers, practicing inside at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility, held a two-hour workout in what was the first of five practices for the squad this week.
Monday's workout was the first of 15 scheduled practices for the Tigers during spring training. LSU's spring workouts culminate with the annual LSU National L-Club Spring Game on Saturday, March 27 in Tiger Stadium.
LSU coach Les Miles and his staff, including first-year coaches in Frank Wilson, Billy Gonzales, and Steve Ensminger, welcomed back 12 starters (6 offense, 4 defense, 2 special teams) and a total of 42 letterwinners (12 offense, 18 defense, 3 special teams) from last year's squad that posted a 9-4 overall marked and finished the year ranked No. 17 in the nation.
"The first practice was a fast-paced one," Miles said following the workout. "The responsibility to wear just a helmet certainly curtails the activity, but it was good. It was nice to get back on the field. A football team does not improve in football unless they're on the field practicing.
"It was nice seeing some of the young players on the field playing for an opportunity to get to the field on Saturdays; guys like (DE) Sam Montgomery looked pretty good. Some of the veterans, (LB) Kelvin Sheppard and (DE) Lavar Edwards looked pretty good. It was nice to see (OT) Joseph Barksdale back and getting after it. I liked our quarterbacks, and all three of them threw the ball pretty well - Chris Garrett, as well as Jarrett Lee and our starter in Jordan Jefferson."
Miles said the Tigers will use the spring as an opportunity to move players around to see if they can help at other positions.
"We'll be moving guys around," Miles said. "We're going to look at some different things. It's going to be a very productive spring."
The Tigers spent time working on all phases of the game on Monday, including periods at the beginning of practice dedicated to special teams.
LSU is scheduled for another helmets workout on Tuesday followed by shells (helmets and shoulder pads) on Wednesday and Thursday. LSU will have its first practice in full pads on Saturday.
LSU Football News and Notes
LSU sophomore Alex Hurst spent time working at offensive tackle on Monday ... Hurst played in 12 games at offensive guard as a redshirt freshman in 2009 ... Two players were held out of practice with injuries - DB Karnell Hatcher and DT Josh Downs ... FB Thomas Parsons was limited due to dropping a weight on his foot last week ... WR Terrence Toliver had his first LSU workout wearing No. 8 ... Toliver has worn No. 80 his entire collegiate career ... Another number change for the Tigers has RB Richard Murphy wearing No. 18 ... Notable position changes include Russell Shepard moving to wide receiver; Drayton Calhoun going from running back to cornerback, and Chase Clement going from defensive end to tight end ... Shepard and Clement are both sophomores, while Calhoun is a redshirt freshman.
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
QB, Jordan Jefferson
On being back in practice ...
"It's a great feeling to be back on the field. We've been training since the bowl game, and now we have the opportunity to be back out on the field. We're very excited as a team, and we're looking forward to starting this year right."
On being more of a leader on offense this year ...
"This year is going to be hectic for me so I'm going to have to stay really focused. I'm going to have to be on top of my game this year. I'll be studying game film as much as possible and get better every day at practice and be a better team player."
On the receiving corps and the addition of Russell Shepard ...
"We have some guys that have a little bit of experience. Terrence (Toliver) and Rueben (Randle) have a lot of experience. There are a few young guys that we have to get involved with the playbook and help them understand the game. All of those guys are good, and they get better every day. I know they are doing as much as they can to help me out, and I'm going to do as much as I can to help them out. Russell (Shepard) is a great player. He's very talented and can do a lot of things with the ball."
On improvements on his reads and progression ...
"I improved on that by watching film on myself. I took notes on myself and noticed things I need to work on. I also sat down with coach Crowton and watched some film and he helped me point out a few other things that I can work on. I think it is an area where I need some improvement. This spring I'm going to work on not holding the ball as long and work on making quicker decisions."
WR, Russell Shepard
On when he decided to switch from quarterback to wide receiver ...
"I approached Coach Miles two days after the Florida game last year and told him that I think it's time I make a position change. He really fought me on it and told me to wait another year and see, but I said I think I will be better suited for this team at a skill position."
On looking forward to contributing at receiver ...
"Terrence Toliver is our leader at the position, and I'm going to follow him. At the same time, I'm going to push him and all the other receivers to do their best. This position became natural to me. I feel like I can be a big contributor to this team at this position."
On the biggest challenge in making the switch ...
"The biggest challenge is catching up. Learning the receiver position in six or seven months is a huge deal. I've been able to pick it up pretty easily because Coach Gonzales and I spent a lot of time working on it. Learning concepts is probably the biggest thing."