www.nola.com/lsu/t-p/football/index.ssf?/lsustory/lsufoot14.html LSU's beefy line appears to be coming of age 08/14/01 By Jim Kleinpeter Staff writer/The Times-Picayune BATON ROUGE -- LSU's 2001 offensive line may have an edge in physical talent over last year's more experienced group. Could be they'll end up a more stable group, as well. LSU spent the first half of the season switching players around before settling on a group around midseason. None of the first-game starters finished the season in his original position. The pieces appear to be in place for a stable start in 2001. "We're much better prepared this season than last," said center Rob Sale, whose smooth transition from guard during the spring has been a key. "We worked real hard together in the offseason. We're making calls and communicating well on the line of scrimmage. That's what you want to see on the first few days of camp. The technique is going to come." Sale, left tackle Rodney Reed and senior right guard Dwayne Pierce return as starters to from the backbone of a young, talented and sizable group. Brad Smalling, who started five games last year, is battling senior Jason Baggett at right tackle, and John Young and redshirt freshman Kade Comeaux are competing at left guard. The average weight of those seven players is nearly 305 pounds. "We had more experienced players there last year, more guys who had played more football, even though it (the system) was new," said LSU coach Nick Saban. "We have more size and strength, all the physical attributes." Sale and Reed provide smarts and attitude Saban is hoping will rub off on incoming freshman like Ben Wilkerson (275 pounds) and Andrew Whitworth (315). Sale included the freshmen in the weekly off-season workouts to give them a running start. The coaching staff wants a more physical line to boost to the running game, which was ninth in the SEC last season (131.1 yards per game). "Dominating a team the whole game starts with the offensive line and running the ball," said Pierce who prepped at Carver. "It's on our shoulders." Pass protection is crucial, because depth is lacking behind starting quarterback Rohan Davey. The key isn't necessarily sacks -- but limiting hits on Davey. Depth is also a problem on the line, though Sale said the incoming freshman are far ahead of where he was at the same point. "Last year, we came together midway through the season," said Sale. "This year we need to come together for the Tulane game and start meshing right away." NOTES: LSU practiced outside Monday morning, despite a downpour 30 minutes before practice. Since practice began Aug. 7, the Tigers have been forced inside three times. "We didn't go inside one time all two-a-days and only one time all season until the Peach Bowl," Saban said. "We wanted to get acclimated to what it's going to be like outside, in the humidity." . . . The Tigers are scheduled for their first full-pads workout Wednesday. . . . Muskingum Barnes and Kyle Kipps missed the morning workout with viruses.