LSU's Season Riding on Les Miles' Ability to Pick a Quarterback

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LSU's Season Riding on Les Miles' Ability to Pick a Quarterback
USA TODAY Sports
LSU QBs Brandon Harris (6) and Anthony Jennings (10)

If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. 

LSU is on the verge of having no quarterbacks.

Head coach Les Miles said after Tuesday's scrimmage that sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris could both play in the season opener vs. Wisconsin.

“There’s an opportunity to see both quarterbacks play,” Miles said, via LSU's official athletics website. “We still have several practices left. I think I’ll wait (to name a starter) until I see how I want to play the guys. We’ll tell the starter on Thursday (of game week) when we put together the final (play call) list.”

USA TODAY Sports
LSU QB Brandon Harris

Good move? Hardly.

Each situation is unique, and while it's fine if Alabama's quarterback battle wages on into the season, LSU really doesn't have that luxury.

With so much roster turnover on the offensive side of the ball, including the absence of quarterback Zach Mettenberger, 1,000-yard rusher Jeremy Hill and 1,000-yard receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., LSU's offense needs continuity, and that continuity begins with Miles settling on a signal-caller.

Wisconsin isn't the team to conduct an audition with. Sure, there are some questions in the front seven for the Badgers to answer, and LSU can play ground-and-pound football with backs Terrence Magee, Kenny Hilliard and Leonard Fournette and get out of there with a win.

But does that solve the quarterback issue? Nope. It would mask it.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
LSU head coach Les Miles (left) and QB Anthony Jennings

In most cases, all things being equal, a team should go with the veteran—especially if the season opener is a big game that could potentially make or break its national title hopes. The word "veteran," in this case, is a relative term.

Jennings saw spot duty as Zach Mettenberger's reserve leading up to the season finale last year and then led the Tigers on a 99-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes to beat Arkansas, 31-27. The future looked bright.

In his first start—a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl—Jennings was inconsistent, completed only 36.8 percent of his passes (7-of-19), looked apprehensive in the pocket and took four sacks. That trend continued in LSU's spring game when Jennings threw two picks and was sacked four times, according to stats released by LSU.

All the while, Harris looked sharp throwing for 195 yards, rushing for 77 and totaling four touchdowns.

In this case, going with youth is the best approach if all things are equal.

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LSU's leading returning receiver is Travin Dural, who had seven catches last year. Not 17 or 70, seven. It's imperative for LSU's young wide receivers, including Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn, to develop chemistry with their quarterback. Rotating guys under center throughout the duration of fall camp and into the season makes that much more difficult.

Yes, LSU has rotated quarterbacks in the past, including Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson in the SEC championship year of 2011. But those players had experience and familiarity with their teammates.

Jennings and Harris don't, and if Miles doesn't settle on one soon, LSU is destined for a rebuilding year.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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