Opening camp: LSU

Schedule: Practice starts Thursday at 10 a.m. ET for the first group and 4:30 p.m. ET for the second group. The first day in full pads is Monday (Aug. 9).

What’s new: Billy Gonzales comes over from the Florida staff and will serve as the Tigers’ receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Frank Wilson joins the staff as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator after spending the 2009 season on Tennessee’s staff. Steve Ensminger is in his first season as the Tigers’ tight ends coach.

Sidelined: Offensive line signee Elliott Porter has been granted his release and plans to go elsewhere after declining the Tigers’ request to grayshirt this season.

Key battle: LSU was 11th last season in the SEC in rushing offense, and LSU coach Les Miles has said at every stop that the Tigers will run the ball better this season. Junior Stevan Ridley is a 230-pound bruiser who showed flashes when he got a chance last season. Senior Richard Murphy is coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss most of last season, while some in the program think redshirt freshman Michael Ford may be the most talented running back of the group.

New on the scene: Redshirt freshman Sam Montgomery could wind up as the starter at one defensive end, while redshirt freshman Michael Brockers will be a part of the rotation at defensive tackle. LSU also hopes true freshman defensive end Ego Ferguson can provide some pass-rush help. The Tigers finished tied for eighth in the SEC last season with 21 sacks. Two others to watch are redshirt freshman safety Craig Loston and true freshman quarterback Zach Lee.

Breaking out: Now that Russell Shepard has had some time to get the nuances of receiver down and has worked exclusively as a pass-catcher, he has everything it takes to be one of the top all-purpose players in the league. The Tigers just need to make sure they get him the ball.

Don’t forget about: Patrick Peterson might be the best cornerback in college football, but the Tigers think they have another great one in the making in sophomore Morris Claiborne.

All eyes on: Junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson. He needs to make this his team, not to mention make a few more plays, if LSU is going to shake the offensive doldrums that were a problem all last season.

Quoting: “Last year, after the season, coach [John] Chavis told me that was only half the playbook. I laughed and said, 'Are you serious?' He said, 'I’ve been doing this for a long time.’ I’m looking for him to open it up. We’ve got young guys, but they’ve been through the system. So hopefully you’ll see more blitzes, and it will be more exciting.” -- LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard