Be prepared to see more than one QB
All right, let’s play along.
Let’s assume, just for a minute, that LSU really does have a bona fide quarterback competition ongoing during spring practice.
It’s harmless fun at this point anyway, with plenty of time still to accept the obvious when it slaps us in the face.
But maybe, just maybe, this is for real. Maybe Myles Brennan, whose 24 collegiate pass attempts (14 completions) qualifies him as the grizzled if not quite wily veteran of the bunch, isn’t the overwhelmingly obvious choice everyone assumes.
LSU offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles (77) and offensive tackle K.J. Malone (63) protect quarterback LSU quarterback Myles Brennan, back left, as Chattanooga defensive lineman D.J. Prather (7) blitzes during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.
Perhaps there really is something to be said for Justin McMillan and especially for Lowell Narcisse.
At any rate, head coach Ed Orgeron is sticking to his story that it’s too close to call at this point.
And this Saturday’s spring game, apparently, is not an urgent enough deadline to rush things.
So Orgeron insists he’s letting it play out.
He was verily raving about Narcisse after Saturday’s scrimmage, which evidently was something to see all-around (if you can say such a thing about a scrimmage).
Orgeron said it was “Overall our best scrimmage since I have been here as a coach. Both the offense and defense executed very well.
“I wanted to have a day where the offense and the defense both had great days. I thought that happened.”
Especially at quarterback, he said. In particular, Narcisse.
“He had his best day,” Orgeron said. “He stood out. He made a lot of good throws and a lot of good plays.”
This time Orgeron had some numbers to back him up, even if they can’t be verified because these scrimmages are played in a tightly closed shop.
But (Orgeron said) Narcisse was 7 of 10 for 143 yards. Brennan was 10 of 20 for 98 yards. Both spent time with the first team.
No, we’ll not fall into the trap of overanalyzing spring stats, but there could be a couple of things at play here for the long-term choice.
Orgeron also had high praise Saturday for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That’s nice, encouraging at least. But it seems obvious that, for the first time in memory, the Tigers won’t have the likes of a Derrius Guice or Leonard Fournette to ride for 60 minutes.
They also lost their top two wide receivers from last year, but there are plenty of good hands left behind. That position could well end up being the strength of the team.
So this does figure to be a passing team — not to appease the fans, but because it ends up playing to its strength. Maybe even, gulp, a pass-first team.
The promotion of Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator might not have made fans’ hearts go pitter-patter, but he won’t hesitate to throw it all over the lot.
More importantly, you can expect an uptick in the passing game with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan.
He’s been hanging around the fringe of the program as one of those “consultants” since Orgeron took over as head coach. Now he’s a full-time assistant coach, and the 73-year-old whose previous LSU hitch dates to the Bill Arnsparger administration (1984-86), is as good as it gets when it comes to coaching wide receivers and understanding the passing game.
So, yes, let’s assume the quarterback is going to more important than ever for the Tigers this season.
Whenever this is decided, it will be the classic choice.
Brennan is the straight drop-back option, presumably with the best pure arm on the team (nobody has really seen much of the others).
Narcisse has a good enough arm, but is also the classic dual-threat quarterback who makes things happen on the run.
And we know Orgeron likes that option — over the second half of last season, he even gave Danny Etling some designed running plays.
As Orgeron noted, he’s picking an offense as much as a quarterback.
“It feels a little bit like that,” Orgeron said. “But we’re going to do some things with both quarterbacks.
“All three are running everything, but if a quarterback’s skill set demands we do certain things, we’re going to do it.
“Obviously with Lowell we’d do a little more runs. With Myles there’s more drop-back passing. We have certain plays that both quarterbacks, all three quarterbacks, are running.”
Maybe there ends up being another choice here.
What if the game situation demands it, dictates it?
It doesn’t really have to be a true “two-quarterback” system.
Alternating every series is usually a recipe for offensive disaster.
But it sure sounds like, even if Brennan’s arm is the clear best choice for next fall, Ensminger and Orgeron are planning to find something for Narcisse to do.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org