Burrow quick to adapt to new environment
<p class="indent">Before Sunday night, most LSU fans would not have known their new quarterback if he fell into the jambalaya pot at their tailgate.
<p class="indent">But gradually some details are drifting out about the graduate transfer who came to Louisiana basically sight unseen with a mandate to save the Tigers’ chronic quarterbacking woes.
<p class="indent">He looks too young to have graduated from high school let alone Ohio State, and he had basically been held in quarantine by the LSU staff all summer while officially winning the job just days before an impressive debut to lead the Tigers to a 33-17 upset of Miami.
<p class="indent">Maybe all credit goes to his caramel apple suckers — which he eats without fail before each game — or the way he insists on playing with one sock inside out, all the while maintaining he’s not superstitious at all.
<p class="indent">Just, “kind of weird things that I do.”
<p class="indent">Well, he did say that it doesn’t matter which sock is inside out.
<p class="indent">He said he still can’t believe how much fried and creamy-rich food gets consumed in his adopted state — he’s learned to ignore the sideways glances he gets when out trying to eat healthy — all the while making new friends in an odd new culture and battling humidity the likes of which he never imagined back home in Ohio.
<p class="indent">He doesn’t overanalyze it.
<p class="indent">But …
<p class="indent">“If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be the starting quarterback for LSU, I would have said you’re crazy,” he said in his first real interview with Louisiana media.
<p class="indent">Back then he was still a Buckeye, ready to compete for the starting job once J.D. Barrett (now on the New Orleans Saints practice squad) moved on, but when Dwayne Haskins won the job last spring, the former Ohio prep “Mr. Football” started looking for somewhere to take his two remaining years of edibility.
<p class="indent">LSU, ever on the lookout for a quarterback, came calling.
<p class="indent">Burrow’s only previous exposure to Louisiana was a trip to New Orleans, tagging along as a kid with his father, Jimmy, the longtime defensive coordinator at Ohio University, when the Bobcats played in the 2010 R+L Carriers Bowl in New Orleans.
<p class="indent">“So I was there a couple of days,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about Louisiana or LSU when I came down here for a (recruiting) visit.
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“I fell in love with the people, the place.”
</div></div><p class="indent">Mainly, though, he came for the chance to start at a big-time program.
<p class="indent">It had been a long time coming, and even if the school colors and the teammates were far different than he originally imagined, it was something of a dream come true trotting out the lead the Tigers in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
<p class="indent">Known as a bit of a free spirit at Ohio State — a headband was his signature look — it was obvious he’d won over the Buckeyes, if not the starting job, by the enthusiasm with which they wished him well on social media (and during his first start Sunday night).
<p class="indent">But he had to win over a whole new team if he was to realize that dream.
<p class="indent">“Coming down here to the heat and humidity of Louisiana, learning a whole new culture and a whole new playbook, learning new 120 new guys’ names and faces …” he said. “It was a challenge.”
<p class="indent">He said LSU made it easy. He wasn’t sure how he’d be accepted by new teammates, especially the crowded quarterback room where three were already competing for the job before he made it a foursome. Two two of them, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse, transferred in August when it became evident the race was down to Burrow and sophomore Myles Brennan.
<p class="indent">“They really welcomed me in with open arms,” Burrow said of his new teammates. “I hated to see Justin and Lowell leave. I really liked those guys. But me and Myles have a great relationship.”
<p class="indent">So there he was, an Ohio lad wearing LSU purple and gold, standing under the gargantuan video board of the Dallas Cowboys, about to finally make that first college start.
<p class="indent">“The first time I ran out there, I kind of took a couple of seconds to sit back and realize I was on national TV, the only game on Sunday night, millions of people probably watching me,” he said. “Then I had to get into the game … I was just out there playing.”
<p class="indent">Burrow got excellent reviews for his debut, not so much for the numbers — 11 of 24 for 140 yards — but for the way he ran the offense, often audibling into better plays at key moments and keeping Miami’s famed Turnover Chain idle sitting in its box on the sideline.
<p class="indent">There was one critic — Joe Burrow.
<p class="indent">“It was good enough to win that game,” he said. “But we have to get better going forward.”
<div class="float"><div class="Lead">SE Louisiana at LSU | 6 p.m. Saturday | ESPN2</div></div>