- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- It didn't take long for Tyrann Mathieu to re-acclimate to the routine.
The junior cornerback, who recently returned from an award ceremony in Atlantic City, N.J., went through his first practice of the spring on Monday. After getting back into that routine, Mathieu fell into another norm for a Heisman finalist -- getting swarmed by reporters after his workout.
After missing the first two workouts of the spring, Mathieu had the distinction of returning on the Tigers' first day in shoulder pads.
"Unfortunately, I had to start my first day in pads, but it went well," he said. "It was good just to get out there with my team."
Mathieu and his fellow defensive backs find themselves in new territory as the spring season continues to get underway. The secondary is one of two units, along with the wide receivers, breaking in a new position coach. New coach Corey Raymond came to LSU from Bo Pelini's staff at Nebraska last week, and the learning curve has been steep for everyone involved.
"We're trying to learn his technique and learn his fundamentals and put it into our game," Mathieu said. "He's definitely hard on us, and he definitely expects a lot out of us. Coming from Nebraska, he had a pretty good secondary over there, and he wants to keep that going."
Just observing practice, one can see the basic differences between Raymond and former defensive backs coach Ron Cooper. Raymond spent much of the afternoon Monday breaking down his defensive backs' techniques, going as far as to run drills with the players to show the desired result.
"Coach Cooper was a little bit more laid back; Coach Raymond is kind of into technique and fundamentals," Mathieu said. "He wants you to be polished on every play and he wants you to finish every play."
Despite his short time with the Tigers' new hire, Mathieu's assessment proved to be a keen one. One of LSU's other veterans in the secondary, junior safety Eric Reid, agreed about Raymond's technical focus and said it was needed.
"I love Coach Coop, and I'm glad he had that step in his career," Reid said. "But I love our new coach. He's all about technique, and he's all about the mental part of the game, and we need that."
That change is a necessary one for Reid, who said he could sense the Tigers slipping in their fundamentals during January's BCS Championship loss to Alabama.
"In the championship game we got a little bit loose in our technique, and they beat us on the little things, I feel like," he said. "We've got to get back to reading our keys and staying strong mentally. Because we have the physical aspect, we've just got to make sure everybody knows what they're doing at all times."
That shouldn't be too hard, as Reid said the Tigers' scheme has remained largely the same under defensive coordinator John Chavis. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be getting on the same page with Raymond's terminology.
While the defensive backs work on that, Raymond will have them hard at work on fundamentals, which is just fine with Reid.
"We do a lot of footwork -- all the way across the field," he said. "We're used to doing it from the sideline to the hashmark. But Coach has got us working from sideline to sideline, trying to get us in shape."
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