Tuesday, December 17th, 2002


BATON ROUGE Ð The LSU football team practiced in full pads for the first time in over three weeks here on Tuesday as the Tigers began to prepare for the Cotton Bowl.
LSU was scheduled to practice again on Tuesday night followed by one practice on Wednesday. LSU will practice twice again on Thursday followed by single practices on Friday and Saturday. LSU will break camp following Saturday’s practice and will resume workouts after Christmas on Dec. 26 in Dallas.
LSU (8-4) and ninth-ranked Texas (10-2) meet for the first time in 40 years when the teams square off in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day. Kickoff for the contest is set for 10 a.m. in Dallas.
“Today looked like our first day back in pads,” LSU coach Nick Saban said. “We have a long way to go to get back to where we need to be able to play a good football game. It’s not really where we are now, but where we can get by the end of this week and how much more progress we can make when we are at the bowl site.”
Saban said the Tigers would start putting in the game plan for Texas later this week.
“It is not our plan to start working on Texas until probably Thursday so that we will have four practices like a normal week before we take off for Christmas. Those four practices are a lot like camp practices to try to work a lot on fundamentals and get guys back into football-playing shape and get fundamentally sound in terms of what we are doing.”
Saban said the Tigers still have a couple of players that still aren’t at 100 percent. Running back Domanick Davis is still slowed by a knee injury that he suffered in the Arkansas game, while defensive tackle Kenderick Allen has an injured thumb. Both players practiced in red (non-contact) jerseys on Tuesday.
Saban also emphasized that in addition to preparing to play in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, these bowl practices give the Tigers an early start on next season’s preparations.
“I think this is great for young players,” Saban said. “The difference for our young players and a lot of guys that are going to end up playing until next year is that they will get the opportunity to practice, get reps and get coached and not be on the scout all the time.
“I think that they have actually matured to the point where they realize the importance of trying to do things with a little higher level of focus and doing things correctly and how important all that is, and learning their position. Their maturity about going about it is a lot better so you actually improve your team significantly in bowl practice relative to getting ready for next year. We try to define roles in advance of what guys are going to do and what they are going to be for next year and I think the players sometime see that as being important.”