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LSU coach Ed Orgeron leads his team onto the field for the LSU's football home opener against SLU in Tiger Stadium Saturday Sept. 8, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Spring football starts Thursday for LSU with one of its sturdiest footholds in several seasons.

Fresh off the Tigers' 40-32 Fiesta Bowl victory over Central Florida on Jan. 1, Ed Orgeron was moved by optimism.

"I think it was a tremendous feat for the season," Orgeron said on a podum in Glendale, Arizona. "I look at the players and I think of the leadership to the right of me here. I think of the great players we have, the great coaches we have, the LSU tradition. We have a tradition to uphold."

One of those players to Orgeron's right, Joe Burrow, represents exactly why the coach is so optimistic.

A year ago, the Tigers were still searching for a starting quarterback  a search that continued beyond spring practice until Burrow arrived as a graduate transfer from Ohio State.

And the coaches Orgeron mentioned?

Every assistant coach but passing game coordinator Jerry Sullivan returned, and Sullivan, 74, had fulfilled the one-year, $460,000 contract that was set to expire at the end of January.

Sullivan's vacancy was filled within a month by former New Orleans Saints offensive assistant Joe Brady, 28, who is expected to further advance LSU's offense toward a Run-Pass-Option scheme.

Even with defensive back coach Corey Raymond drawing interest for Georgia's defensive coordinator position (he ultimately stayed in Baton Rouge), LSU's coaching transition was seamless in comparison to the previous year, which saw three major changes at offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and defensive line coach.

Paired with a 2019 recruiting haul that ranked No. 5 nationally, including top cornerback prospect Derek Stingley, who enrolled early and practiced before the Fiesta Bowl, the Tigers have more promise than concern this spring.

With its biggest bowl victory of the College Football Playoff era, LSU begins the spring with perhaps more promise since it beat then-Big 12 Conference member Texas A&M in the 2010 Cotton Bowl to cap an 11-2 season.

That season created momentum that vaulted the program toward a 13-1 record in 2011.

Even with 16 total returning starters (eight offense, eight defense), including consensus All-American safety Grant Delpit, there still remains major improvement projects for LSU this spring.

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Mainly, the offensive line will need to improve upon a season that had them ranked 106th nationally with 35 sacks allowed; defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will have to make up for the loss of star inside linebacker Devin White; and the defensive line will have to show more muscle, particularly at nose tackle, where a position battle will break out among Breiden Fehoko, Tyler Shelvin and Siaki Ika.

There's also a major question mark at placekicker, where Connor Culp and Jack Gonsoulin — who combined to make 59 percent of their field goals in 2017  will seek to replace record-holder Cole Tracy before freshman Cade York arrives in June.

Spring football ends with the National L Club spring game at Tiger Stadium at 1 p.m. April 6, bringing an end to the 15 allotted spring practice periods the NCAA allows each team.


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The New Offense:
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Returning from Injuries:
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The New Players
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New Leadership on Defense
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New Wrinkles to Defense

Spring practice schedule

Week 1: March 7, 9

Week 2: March 12, 14, 16

Week 3: March 19, 21, 23

Week 4: March 26, 28, 30

Week 5: April 2, 4, 5,

Spring game: 1 p.m. April 6 at Tiger Stadium