BATON ROUGE -- It’s been a little less than two months since LSU wrapped up the 2006 football season with a 41-14 win over Notre Dame in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but the Tigers will go back to work on Monday as they will hold the first of their 15 spring practices.
LSU, which lost 22 seniors and nine starters from last year’s team that posted an 11-2 overall mark and finished the year ranked No. 3 in the nation, will practice 15 times over the next four weeks capped with the spring game in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, March 24.
Monday’s workout will also serve as the first practice for three new members of the Tiger coaching staff - offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, and wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy.
“We’re excited to get started again,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We feel like an early spring practice is an advantage for us. We could have pushed it back due to some of the new coaches, but I think we are in good shape going early.
“There is always an evolution with your team this time of the year when you start spring practice. There are issues with personnel and strategy that we’ll use the 15 spring practices to evaluate.”
Miles said the Tigers will be without a couple players this spring as All-America defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey will sit out the 15 practices to rest his lower leg, while senior offensive guard Will Arnold continues to recover from surgery to both his knee and ankle. Miles said both players will be ready for the fall.
Miles also noted that defensive end Kirston Pittman, who hasn’t seen any game action for the Tigers since the 2004 season, will return to practice for the first time in over a year after battling various injuries as will senior tight end Keith Zinger, who missed the last nine games of the 2006 season with a stomach ailment.
Miles said he expects the offense to come along slower than the Tiger defense during the spring.
“We will obviously start slower on offense,” Miles said. “We want to make sure we get it right and the players understand what we’re doing. I’d rather go slow and be sure than get in a hurry.”
The Tigers, who return six starters on offense, will use the spring to find players to fill the void left by the departure of quarterback JaMarcus Russell and wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis.
Miles said that senior Matt Flynn along with sophomore Ryan Perrilloux will compete for the quarterback position, while Chris Mitchell and Jared Mitchell will be among those players competing for LSU’s third and fourth receiver position.
Miles said Jared Mitchell, who serves as the starting centerfielder on the LSU baseball team, will practice eight times with the football team during the spring. Mitchell will not miss any game action for the baseball team, Miles said.
Defensively, the Tigers return all but three starters from a unit that ranked among the nation’s best in several categories, including total defense and scoring defense. The most pressing needs for the Tigers this spring is to find the replacement for All-America safety LaRon Landry and defensive Chase Pittman.
On special teams, the Tigers must fill the void left by the graduation of punter Chris Jackson. Senior Patrick Fisher is the leading candidate to step in at punter, while junior Colt David will continue to handle the placekicking duties for the Tigers.
“There is going to be a lot of competition this spring,” Miles said. “I’m looking forward to watching the young guys go out and compete. The luxury of spring ball as a player is that you can go out and compete without the pressure of having to prepare for a game on Saturday.”
2007 LSU Spring Practice Dates
Feb. 26, 27, March 1, 3
March 5, 6, 8, 10
March 12, 13, 16, 17
March 20, 22, 24
Other Key Dates:
March 15-17 LSU Football Coaches Clinic
March 23 LSU Football Alumni Golf Tournament
March 24 LSU Spring Game (Tiger Stadium)