LSU Football: All the pieces are in place, except…


It sure has been an eventful past two weeks for LSU football. The loss to Notre Dame in the Music Bowl on December 30th, followed by the loss of defensive coordinator John Chavis to SEC West foe Texas A&M. Then the churning of the rumor mill as to his replacement, ultimately leading to what many are lauding as “home run” hires in Kevin Steele as the new defensive coordinator, and Louisiana native Ed Orgeron as defensive line coach.

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While much of the discussion has concerned the future of the LSU defense, which now by all accounts appears to be in great hands considering the recruiting prowess of both Steele and Orgeron, there’s still that pesky matter dogging the Tiger offense. Who will be the starting quarterback?

The fact of the matter is, no matter how stout LSU is on defense, the Tigers will not contend for any championships if it cannot fix the quarterback situation. They say that defense wins championships, and we’ve discussed that here it before; however, we all know that you have to be able to put points on the board if you’re going to win.

During this past two week period, quarterback-related rumors surfaced in that Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller expressed interest in transferring to LSU.

On one hand, these are two quarterbacks that could potentially come in and start, and perhaps fix things for 2015. On the other hand, a one year quick fix is not necessarily the answer, as you’re stunting the development of the other quarterbacks on the roster, and potentially upsetting team chemistry. If Brandon Harris is indeed the quarterback of the future, you’re also potentially sending him a negative signal.

Speaking on the quarterback issue on Wednesday, The Advocate reported coach Les Miles stated the Tigers are “unlikely” to bring in a quarterback transfer during the offseason but didn’t rule it out. Miles also stated:

"“We would think that we’re through the quarterback misery … development, if you will. I think that Brandon Harris will absolutely compete for the job, and I’m not discounting Anthony Jennings, just not going to do it…but Brandon Harris is faster, throws the ball harder and really runs hard. Some fundamental things that he will improve on, and he’s ready to do so.”"

Sep 13, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Anthony Jennings (10) and quarterback Brandon Harris (6) prior to a game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger fans are too familiar with the quarterback misery of 2014, and the stats no doubt confirm this futility:

  • Anthony Jennings completed only 48.9 percent of his throws, going 111-227 for 1,611 yards, with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The below 50 percent completion rate ranked at the bottom of the SEC and near the bottom nationally. Jennings did have some success running the ball once Cam Cameron introduced more read-option and spread offense sets into the mix; however, Jennings is not the long-term answer here.
  • Brandon Harris in his limited role completed 55.6 percent of this throws, going 25-42 for 452 yards, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Harris showed flashes of brilliance early in the year coming off the bench against Mississippi State and New Mexico State. This led to his being named the starter when LSU visited Auburn. His poor performance on the Plains, though, relegated him back to the bench and virtually no playing time thereafter. Harris is the more talented quarterback on the roster, and should continue to be groomed for the starting job.

The lack of a passing game, as we all know, forces you to become one-dimensional on offense, and the Tigers ran the ball 69 percent of the time on the back of freshman star Leonard Fournette. While Fournette had great success and set the LSU freshman rushing record, the team does become hamstrung when the opponent is loading the box and daring you to throw.

LSU under Les Miles will always be a run first team; however, at some point, you have to be able to consistently complete passes downfield.

LSU’s backfield will be loaded again in 2015, with Fournette and Darrel Williams returning, and highly-touted recruits Nick Brosette and Derrius Guice joining the fold. The Tiger receiver corps is as talented as they come, with Travin Dural returning, as well as Malachi Dupre, John Diarse, and Trey Quinn. Incoming recruits include Tyron Johnson and Jazz Ferguson.

All that is needed is a quarterback that can efficiently and effectively manage the game. A superstar is not necessary, but what is, is a signal-caller that can be called upon to consistently complete a clutch third down pass, and to make good decisions such as throwing the ball away and not taking a sack. LSU at the very least could use a Matt Flynn- or Matt Mauck-type of quarterback. That would be welcomed with open arms.

Hopefully someone on the roster can grow into this role, but it has to happen now. Ultimately, Les Miles’ job will depend on it.