It’ll be Burrow for LSU

Orgeron makes his choice for opener against Miami

<p class="p1">BATON ROUGE — The two LSU principals found out Monday morning.</p><p class="p4">The rest of the world had to wait to find out the winner of the Tigers’ quarterback competition, including the media at head coach Ed Orgeron’s Monday press luncheon and  LSU teammates, a handful of whom met with reporters immediately afterwards and insisted they still didn’t have a clue.</p><p class="p4">Finally, with those chores attended to, Orgeron had his team meeting and they learned that Ohio State graduate transfer Joe Burrow had edged out sophomore Myles Brennan to start at quarterback when the Tigers open the season Sunday night in Arlington, Texas against No. 8 Miami.</p><p class="p4">But the decision hardly seems to be carved in stone.</p><p class="p4">“Let me say this, either quarterback would be fine with me,” Orgeron  said well before he revealed who the actual winner was. “It was that close. Either quarterback could’ve started. Very close. It wasn’t lopsided.</p><p class="p4">“We’re solid with our decision. He’s going to take most of the reps this week. But if he (Burrow, although at the time the name had not been revelaed) does not perform well, we have no problem putting in a second team quarterback.”</p><p class="p4">Orgeron said he and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger basically came to the decision to start Burrow Sunday night, but Orgeron decided they both should sleep on a night before making the final decision Monday morning.</p><p class="p4">They stuck with their original choice and informed both. “We had a very good conversation,” Orgeron said of letting the quarterbacks in on the biggest subplot of the Tigers’ offseason.</p><p class="p4">Neither has much experience leading up to key season-opening game game one of the nation’s top defense.</p><p class="p4">Burrow transferred from Ohio State after losing a similar quarterback duel in the Buckeye’s spring practice.</p><p class="p4">With the Buckeyes, the former Mr. Football of Ohio high school football, played in 10 games in two seasons, completing 29 of 39 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The more mobile of the LSU duo, he also rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown.</p><p class="p4">Brennan played six games as a freshman at LSU behind Danny Etling, completing 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards.</p><p class="p4">In the wake of their LSU competition, the duo left two former competitors as former Tigers, as both Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse transferred when told their grades in the early competition.</p><p class="p4">Orgeron said a similar grading system came right down to the wire in picking Burrow over Brennan.</p><p class="p4">“It see-sawed back and forth all week. The grades were really close. Either quarterback could have won out. We went with the grades and the winner came out on the sheet of paper with the grades. That was the deciding factor.”</p><p class="p4">In the end, Orgeron said, every snap in August practice — 428 for Burrow, 427 for Brennan — was graded and analyzed.</p><p class="p4">What factored in?</p><p class="p4">“Leadership, maturity, how to handle pressure, work ethic, individual study time,” Orgeron said. “That all  went into it. Everything counted. How do you handle adversity? They faced a pretty good rush. How do you make decisions when everything is not perfect? And all those went into the decision making process.</p><p class="p4">“I thought (Ensminger) did a tremendous job of doing this the whole camp.”</p><p class="p4">Players who spoke to the media seemed less concerned about the outcome than fans  — to a man, they said it didn’t matter.</p><p class="p4">We can’t tell,” said Jonathan Giles, who’s expected to be LSU’s go-to wide receiver after transferring from Texas Tech. “When Coach O says it’s been a close race, it’s definitely been a close race. Myles has done a good job every day. Joe has done a good job. Honestly, we don’t know. Like everybody, we’re waiting to see who it’s going to be.”</p><p class="p4">That would come moments later when Orgeron had the week’s first team meeting and informed the team. Only then did LSU release the depth chart for the season opener.</p><p class="p4">Before knowing who the starter would be, All-American linebacker Devin White did say that Burrow had quickly earned his new teammatess respect when he arrived with sense of entitlement for the job.</p><p class="p4">“He left his state to come and try to make my state better,” White said. “He could have gone anywhere else. That was the first way he earned our respect.”</p><p class="p4">Quarterback isn’t the only tight race.</p><p class="p4">Most notably, LSU still has battles at right offensive tackle and at cornerback that are apparently too close to call until game time.</p><p class="p4">At the line spot,  junior Brandon Traore and Adrian Magee on battling for the starting job. </p><p class="p4">The cornerback opposite preseason All-American Greedy Williams will come down junior Kristian Fulton, who just had his eligibility restored by the NCAA, and Kelvin Joseph, who would be the Tigers’ only true freshman starter.</p>””<p class="p1">LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passes during practice. LSU has named Ohio State transfer Burrow as its starting quarterback when the Tigers open their season Sunday against No. 8 Miami in Dallas. </p>Gerald Herbert/Associated Press