Who’s turn is it? Orgeron unsure which freshman QB to start

Scooter Hobbs

One way or another LSU will still be starting a true freshman quarterback when the Tigers play No. 6-ranked Florida Saturday night.

Neither T.J. Finley or Max Johnson has stood head and shoulders over the other since the young duo took over the job for the fourth game of the season.

But Finley has gotten the start in each of the five games since redshirt junior Myles Brennan was injured against Missouri.

That may change in Gainesville this week as the LSU coaches are thinking of giving Johnson his first start.

Both played in the 55-17 loss to Alabama, and LSU did move the ball at times.

“I thought offensively we made some improvement in some areas,” head coach Ed Orgeron said.

Orgeron said after the game that Finley did some good things early.

On his weekly press Zoom call Monday Orgeron said Johnson had his best game.

“I think that’s something we’re going to give consideration to this week and look at it,” he said of giving Johnson a start. “I thought Max played very well. Also TJ did some things.”

Both are still likely to play, with the final decision on a starter coming later in the week.

Johnson, who played all but one series of the second half against Alabama, finished 11 of 17 for 110 yards, leading one scoring drive that ended with Cade York’s 52-yard field goal.

“I thought he looked his best against Alabama,” Orgeron said. “I thought he was crisp. I thought he went through his progressions. His ball came out very well, threw catchable balls. He can scramble, run. I think he’s tough. So is TJ.”

Finley was 14 of 24 for 144 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass.

But LSU once again had trouble on short yardage plays, two of which sabotaged encouraging drives.

Orgeron said the failed fourth-and-1 play on the Tigers’ first possession deep in Alabama territory when running back Tyrion Davis-Price was stacked up well short was a key play.

“Going into to tie the game 7-7,” he said. “I’m not saying it changed the outcome of the game, but 7-7, give us a little momentum.”

He said he’d have rather seen a quarterback sneak on that play.

“We didn’t block the ends very well … We shouldn’t have taken the ball off the line of scrimmage.

With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, the Tigers also failed on three attempts from Bama 1-yard line.

“I thought we’d learned our lesson, but obviously we didn’t.”

It brought back memories of the Missouri loss, where in the final minute the Tigers had four failed chances from the 1-yard line to score what would have been a game-winning touchdown.

Orgeron clarified that although passing game coordinator Scott Linehan is in charge of third downs, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is responsible third and short situations.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Even with a 3-5 record, LSU will likely still go to a bowl game this season. As a concession to the pandemic, bowl teams will not be required to have a winning record this season.

Athletic director Scott Woodard said on a radio show Sunday that LSU expects to get a bowl invite.

“Another game would be great with me,” Orgeron said. “Another chance to compete, another chance for young players to get better, more practice time.”

STILL KICKING: Both LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg and placekicker Cade York were named semifinalists for their top national awards on Monday. Von Rosenberg is on the short list for the Ray Guy award, while York is on the list for the Lou Groza award.Freshman quarterback T.J. Finley (right) has started all five games since junior Myles Brennan was injured against Missouri, but head coach Ed Orgeron is considering freshman Max Johnson (left) this week when the Tigers travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face the Florida Gators.

Associated Press

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