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LSU Team Report
"We have to evolve in a number of ways, including with our personnel," Miles said. "Spring will be a chance for this team to identify who we are going to be and how we are going to go into the offseason."
The Tigers lost 11 starters and must replace three starters from the offensive line and three more from the defensive line.
The offensive line returns three players with starting experience in guards Will Arnold and Brett Helms and tackle Brian Johnson, so the Tigers will be looking for help from senior tackle Peter Dyakowski, sophomore guard Herman Johnson, and sophomore center Ryan Miller. Helms will also see some practice time at center during the spring.
"We need to develop a really capable offensive line," Miles said. "We graduated a number of guys there, and I am very concerned to see how that center spot is going to be manned. We will look at a number of guys there that might have the potential to play center.
"The formulation of the offensive line and their gaining ability and cohesiveness is a real question for the offense this spring."
The defense line's only returning starter is senior defensive end Chase Pittman, so junior tackle Glen Dorsey, sophomore tackle Charles Alexander, senior end Ryan Willis, freshman tackle/end Ricky Jean-Francois, sophomore end Tyson Jackson, and sophomore tackle Marlon Favorite will all be competing for starting jobs and playing time.
"I would like the defense to maintain the personality that they had last year," Miles said. "We need to discuss creating more turnovers. I think that will be a point of emphasis this spring."
For all the time and attention the coaches will spend on the lines, the fans will be keeping a close eye on the quarterback job. Last year's starters, junior JaMarcus Russell, will be limited by the lingering effects of shoulder surgery.
That leaves most of the reps for junior Matt Flynn, who led LSU to the Peach Bowl victory in his only college start, and Ryan Perrilloux, a talented redshirt freshman who was widely considered the nation's top prep quarterback prospect in 2004.
"I think it will be fun for those two young quarterbacks to compete, get some playing time, and show how good they are," Miles said. "We are going to let them both compete on an equal basis. They will split snaps with the first and second team and let's just see how good we can be at that position."
COACHING CAROUSEL: Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar accepted a similar position with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, so coach Les Miles replaced him with Earl Lane, who spent the past 10 seasons at South Florida.
SCHEDULE SITUATION: LSU plays eight of its 12 games at home, which is a major advantage, but the schedule comes with a warning label. Those four road games will be played at Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas, and not many teams can expect to win all four of those road games. The Arkansas game will be televised nationally on CBS Nov. 24 -- the day after Thanksgiving. At home, the Tigers face plenty of winnable games, but games against Arizona, Fresno State and Alabama could be dangerous. Perhaps the best thing about the schedule is its balance, with the combination of two home games followed by one road game repeated four times.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The greatest void right now on this team is leadership. 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." -- LSU coach Les Miles.
WR Dwayne Bowe -- He had trouble with dropped passes all season and still led the team with 41 catches, 710 yards and 9 touchdowns. Then he went for an eye exam in December and found out he needed contacts and caught three passes for 51 yards without any drops in the Peach Bowl. Too bad contacts didn't help his judgment. It was Bowe who stole a game ball from a Miami bellboy and ignited a post-game melee after the Peach Bowl. If he ever gets his vision and his head together, he could be dangerous for the Tigers instead of to the Tigers.
OG Will Arnold -- Injuries and illness limited his availability and productivity this season but he returned healthy for the Peach Bowl and made a big impact in the running game.
FS Laron Landry -- While several SEC programs lost talented juniors to the NFL draft LSU was more fortunate when junior safety LaRon Landy decided to return for his senior season. Landry led LSU in tackles as both a freshman and sophomore and earned first team all-conference honors in 2005 after recording 69 tackles and three interceptions.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Freshman CB Jai Eugene; Junior college OL Philip Loadholt; Freshman DTs Al Woods and Charles Deas.
--Several Tigers are playing a limited role in spring practice because of injuries, including quarterback JaMarcus Russell (shoulder), running back Alley Broussard (knee) and defensive backs LaRon Landry (ankle) and Jessie Daniels (shoulder).
--RB Justin Vincent (knee) won't see any action in the spring while recovering from offseason surgery.
--The spring will also allow several players to experiment at 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. Offensive guard Brett Helms will also see some practice time at center. .... FB-TB Steven Korte is expected to be ready for limited action in the spring after suffering a knee injury in October and missing the rest of the season.
--With Broussard and Steven Korte limited and Vincent out, three tailbacks -- junior Jacob Hester and redshirt freshmen Antonio Robinson and R.J. Jackson -- will see most of the work at tailback.
Previous Report: 04/11/2006