Process of Elimination: Finley likely to draw third start

Scooter Hobbs

Expect true freshman TJ Finley to start at quarterback Saturday at Arkansas for LSU, but head coach Ed Orgeron said he isn’t so sure that Myles Brennan won’t be back before the season is over.

Brennan, who hasn’t played since the Missouri game on Oct. 10 due to an abdominal injury, is still a long shot to see any more action this season. And it’s still possible, Orgeron said, that Brennan could face surgery, which would definitely shut him down.

But Wednesday, on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference, Orgeron had the first bit of encouraging news in weeks about the redshirt junior.

“He made a little progress this week,” Orgeron said. “He hasn’t practiced yet. I think he’s going to try to practice one time this week. It doesn’t look like he’s going to play, but the final decision has not been made, and the decision to go ahead and operate has not been made yet.

“We’re still trying.”

Meanwhile LSU (2-3), which has played twice in the five weeks since that Missouri game, is just hopeful to get this week’s game in.

The Tigers had a game at Florida postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak among the Gators and last week’s game at Alabama was postponed due to LSU’s own outbreak.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman missed the Razorbacks game at Florida last week when he tested positive, and this week at least one player and two staff members have tested positive.

But Pittman said he expects the Razorbacks to have no trouble meeting the SEC guidelines of 53 scholarship players available for a game.

“We’re had some positives this week that certainly will affect our football team,” Pittman said on the teleconference. “But … we are still within that number ratio, so we’re looking forward to playing.”

As was the case with LSU last week, Pittman said it’s not the positive tests that whittle into a team’s roster so much as the players forced into quarantine due to contact tracing.

Players must be quarantined, according to SEC guidelines, if they are within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

Arkansas (3-4) will get its final round of COVID-19 testing results Friday morning.

Brennan tried to practice once last week, but Orgeron said at the time that it did not go well and that he was in a lot of pain.

That leaves it most likely to Finley, who started the two games since Brennan’s injury and was LSU’s lone scholarship quarterback at practice last week with fellow freshman Max Johnson one of the Tigers in quarantine.

Johnson took over in the 48-11 loss to Auburn after Finley threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, all of which led to Auburn touchdowns.

With the game long out of hand, Johnson completed 15 of 24 passing for 172 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown to Kayshon Boutte.

The quarterbacking could get a boost as Orgeron confirmed that starting offensive left tackle Dare Rosenthall is back practicing after a monthlong suspension.

Orgeron would not comment about why Rosenthall was suspended.

In the Auburn game, LSU gave up four sacks and had no running game to count on.

Orgeron said Rosenthall worked out on his own during his absence, has been with the second team and no decision would come until Friday about whether he will start against Arkansas.

“We’re not going to put him in if he’s not in shape,” Orgeron said, “but he looked like he came back in pretty good shape.”LSU freshman quarterback TJ Finley has experienced mixed success in his two starts. With the injured Myles Brennan doubtful for Saturday’s game at Arkansas, and fellow freshman Max Johnson in COVID-19 quarantine, Finley is likely to earn a third start.

Associated Press

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