The backup quarterback might return as the most popular person at LSU in 2014.
LSU has uncertainly at quarterback for the first time in two years. Zach Mettenberger was the unquestionable starter for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. This stability was a breath of fresh air for Tigers fans who were always torn between Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson in years prior.
But now, LSU is back in a quarterback quandary. Head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron must choose between two youngsters to lead the team. They know whoever they pick will probably go through growing pains, thus making the backup the big man on campus.
Miles and Cameron also have some adjusting to do. The two players likely to replace Mettenberger have the ability to make plays with their legs, which will make Miles change up his philosophy, according to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee.
Here is an early look at how things might shape out this fall.
Early enrollee freshman Brandon Harris started and finished as the most buzz-worthy player at spring practice, and for good reason. Harris proved he has all the tools to be the starting quarterback.
He throws a spectacular deep ball and can move the chains with his legs. But his pocket awareness and accuracy for a player who is barely scratching the surface is amazing.
LSU fans got a brief, yet favorable, glimpse of Harris at the spring game. His four combined touchdowns and no interceptions were the highlight of the afternoon.
This offseason, Harris worked with quarterback guru George Whitfield, who already thought highly of the talented gunslinger before the summer began. Whitfield said in mid-April that Harris reminds him of a young Jameis Winston, per Shea Dixon of Geaux247.com.
Harris was joined by fellow freshman and 5-star receiver Malachi Dupre at Whitfield's "Shark Week," per Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com. And he has continued working with Dupre. The duo both tweeted a photo after a workout that also featured former LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, who led the Tigers in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season.
LSU sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings has proved to be a clutch college quarterback.
Jennings' signature moment came against Arkansas as a backup after Mettenberger was sidelined with an injured knee late in the fourth quarter. Down by four with less than two minutes remaining, he orchestrated a 99-yard touchdown drive for the win.
Jennings was not able to replicate the success in his only start, which happened the game after against Iowa in the 2014 Outback Bowl. He went 7-of-19 for 82 yards and an interception, and he was also sacked four times.
The struggles continued the next time he played in front of LSU fans. He threw two interceptions in the spring game, both of which were returned for touchdowns.
Jennings has a year of experience learning from Cameron, which is certainly valuable. He can fit the ball into tight spaces, and his mobility makes him dangerous when a play breaks down, but he is far from a finished product.
Jennings ran with the first unit to start spring practice. But his snaps will be shared more with Harris as spring ball progressed.
LSU would be in some trouble if Harris and Jennings were to get injured. Quarterbacks Hayden Rettig and Stephen Rivers transferred this offseason, which leaves three quarterbacks left on the roster.
Junior Brad Kragthorpe, son of LSU special assistant to the head coach Steve Kragthorpe, is likely the third-string quarterback. Following him is transfer Brandon Bergeron, who is in his first year in Baton Rouge. Redshirt freshman Jake Clise rounds out the group.
The Tigers also have senior Rob Bolden, who made the switch from quarterback to receiver over the offseason. Bolden was a former starting quarterback at Penn State who could get the nod before Kragthorpe or Bergeron if need be.
Miles said he is not opposed to playing both Harris and Jennings next season, per Scott Rabalais of The Advocate. But Harris' performance at the spring game proved he has more potential in every aspect of quarterbacking.
LSU would be in good hands with Jennings if Miles and Cameron chose the talented sophomore. Either way, expect the Tigers to pound the football on the ground behind an experienced offensive line and talented running back trio of Leonard Fournette, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard.
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