With Brennan questionable, LSU looking at pair of freshmen

Scooter Hobbs

LSU will be coming off of an unscheduled bye week when the season resumes Saturday night against South Carolina.

Maybe the struggling Tigers (1-2) could have used two open dates.

Head coach Ed Orgeron said on Monday that starting quarterback Myles Brennan, a bright spot in LSU’s rough start, would not have been available last week if the Tigers had played at Florida as scheduled — and is still “questionable” for this week.

“He was not going to play last week,” Orgeron said. “We expected him back early in (this) week, but he’s not. He’s questionable. He’s going to be questionable for the game.”

A bigger question might be what, exactly, is the injury to Brennan.

Monday Orgeron called it “a significant injury to his lower body.”

Yet last week when the injury was first reported, Orgeron said that Brennan was injured in the first half of the Missouri game when he lowered his shoulder and fell on it on a play near the goal line.

He finished that game with no apparent problems.

“It’s something that we do believe is going to heal,” Orgeron said. “It’s taking a little bit more time to heal. We thought he’d be back today, but he’s not.”

Regardless what the ailment is, if Brennan is unable to play, one of two true freshmen — TJ Finley or Max Johnson — will start the first college game they play in.

“We’re going to practice both of them this week and we’re going to tell whoever has the best week (he) is going to start,” Orgeron said.

That’s what LSU was doing last week until the game at Florida was postponed until Dec. 12 due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Gators’ program.

Orgeron said he’d likely make a decision by the end of Thursday’s practice.

Brennan apparently suffered the injury during the first half of LSU’s upset loss at Missouri, but he finished the game with no visible problems.

“I thought having the week off would help Myles, but it hasn’t.”

Brennan was one of the biggest question marks for the defending national champions heading into the season. But he’s been fine — averaging 371 yards passing for three games with 11 scoring tosses against only three interceptions.

Two other banged up offensive stars, wide receiver Terrace Marshall and tight end Arik Gilbert, were also ailing last week, but Orgeron said both are ready to go for this week.

“Myles has shown that he can be our quarterback,” Orgeron said. “But I’m telling you, these two young quarterbacks are terrific players.

“They both had fantastic weeks. I believe both of those guys have NFL talent.”

Johnson (6-5, 219) is the son of former NFL starting quarterback Brad Johnson, who was a Super Bowl winner with the Tampa Bay Bucs. He was the Georgia AAAA offensive player of the year last season at Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, which is just south of Athens.

Finley (6-6, 242) was considered Louisiana’s top quarterback prospect last season at Ponchatoula High School while throwing for 2,738 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Orgeron said Johnson is the more mobile of the two  — a “little faster than Joe Burrow.”

“I plan on giving them both a chance during the game,” Orgeron said. “Either one starts, I want to see what they can do. The only way to do it is in live action.”

South Carolina (2-2) is coming off of a 30-22 upset victory over Auburn Saturday.

After learning last Wednesday that its trip to Florida was postponed, the Tigers got an early start on preparing for South Carolina before taking Friday and Saturday off.

The Gamecocks (2-2) spent the weekend upsetting Auburn 30-22.

But, as Orgeron said, it wasn’t about opponents last week — or this week — after the defensive meltdown in the 45-41 loss to Missouri.

“We’re going to have to find about ourself,“ Orgeron said. “I think last week we did a lot soul searching.”LSU quarterback Myles Brennan absorbs a hit from a Missouri defender during the first half of a game at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo., on Oct. 10. Brennan is questionable for this week’s game against South Carolina

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