BATON ROUGE - LSU went through its first day of practice here Thursday with two sessions - one for the veterans and one for the newcomers - here at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility as the Tigers began preparation for the season-opener against North Texas on Sept. 1.
Just as LSU has done in years past, the veterans with selected freshmen practiced during the morning session, followed by a workout with the newcomers in the afternoon. The morning session was held outdoors, while the afternoon session took place inside. Both practices had the Tigers in shorts and helmets.
"I enjoyed the first day," head coach Les Miles said following the afternoon session. "We have a lot of good, young talent that we're grooming, and getting in position. The defense seemed to look fast. But in terms of being an optimal practice, it was not. Anytime you practice with just helmets you are really limited. It was a good first day."
The Tigers wasted little time in setting a quick practice tempo during the morning session as LSU began the day with special teams drills followed by five periods of individual work. LSU then spent the remainder of the morning workout in team drills.
In praising the speed of the defense, Miles acknowledged the play of defensive end Sam Montgomery, who has bulked up to 260 pounds without appearing to have lost any speed or quickness. Montgomery, one of two returning All-Americans on defense, had 49 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks in 2011.
"Sam is in position to have a great year," Miles said. "He looks bigger and stronger and he's more seasoned. He's a veteran and he understands what is expected of him."
Miles also praised the play of senior wide receiver Russell Shepard, who appears to be in position to have his best season as a Tiger.
"As a young person you live your life, and you realize you didn't put great focus on the things you needed to," Miles said of Shepard. "Suddenly, your career moves quicker than you thought. Now it's more important to him. In one practice he has looked really good. It appears to me he is more sincere about his effort."
The Tigers will maintain the same practice schedule again on Friday and Saturday with split squad workouts each day. The Tigers come together as a full unit for the first time on Sunday.