BATON ROUGE -- Competition for positions on both sides of the football was the theme for LSU on Saturday as the Tigers opened spring practice with a two hour-plus workout in shorts and helmets at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.
Saturday's workout was the first of 15 for the Tigers this spring. LSU will practice again on Monday in the first of three workouts next week for the Tigers.
LSU must replace 11 starters from last year's team that posted an 11-2 overall mark, beat Miami, 40-3, in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and finished the year ranked No. 5 in the nation.
"It was a lot of fun to get back out on the field as a team again," second-year LSU coach Les Miles said following the workout. "Their spirits were high and the team worked hard. It was a good first day of spring practice."
The Tigers were without several regulars on Saturday as quarterback JaMarcus Russell (shoulder), running backs Justin Vincent (knee) and Alley Broussard (knee) and defensive backs LaRon Landry (ankle) and Jessie Daniels (shoulder) were all limited during the workout.
Russell did take a few snaps at quarterback, but didn't do any throwing. Miles said Russell may throw some later this month, while Broussard is expected to see limited duty in a couple of weeks.
"We gave JaMarcus a few snaps to keep his mind into it and to keep his focus on football," Miles said. "Both Alley and Justin are making progressive. I wouldn't be surprised to see Alley taking some live snaps this spring."
Miles said he was pleased with the amount of competition that was present on the practice field during the opening workout of the spring.
"There is more competition overall this spring and competition makes good teams better," Miles said. "I think the competition will raise our level of play and it will be good for this football team."
The practice was also the first for defensive line coach Earl Lane, who joined the Tigers last month after a 10-year stint at South Florida.
"Earl is a quality defensive line coach and we're glad to have him," Miles said. "I really like the way he coaches and I like the way the players have responded to him. He brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the defensive line position and I think he's off to a great start."
Saturday's workout also had several players playing new positions. Quinn Johnson moved from linebacker to fullback, Carnell Stewart from defensive line to offensive tackle and Alonzo Manuel from defensive end to tight end. In addition, offensive guard Brett Helms shifted to center as part of an experiment due to the lack of depth at the position this spring.
"The greatest void right now on this team is leadership," Miles said. "The new leaders and the leadership of this team are being developed. It's just going to take a little time, but we'll be okay there.
"I think from a coaching standpoint, we feel a lot more familiar with the team this spring as opposed to last year. This spring doesn't hold as many surprises as last year. We got some things accomplished today and we'll look to build on that come Monday."