HOUSTON—LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings is clutch.
Jennings showed character in his performance against Wisconsin on Saturday, which was not the prettiest. He was 9-of-21 through the air and was sacked twice.
But Jennings got the job done when it mattered the most.
Jennings was 4-of-6 for 119 yards in the second half, leading LSU to a 28-24 come-from-behind victory against the Badgers. The Tigers scored 21 unanswered points to close the game, thanks in large part to clutch throws from the sophomore gunslinger.
Jennings said after the game he addressed his team when they were down by 24-7 in the third quarter.
"I just kinda talked to them and told them to calm down," said Jennings. "We are going to execute. With the backs we have and our offensive line, I knew we were going to get on a roll."
LSU head coach Les Miles gave a stamp of approval to his sophomore quarterback's performance.
"I felt like Jennings managed the game pretty well," said Miles.
Jennings won the starting job against Wisconsin after an offseason battle with freshman early enrollee Brandon Harris. Harris played one series against Wisconsin that resulted in a three-and-out. Miles said after the game he would like to have given him more snaps.
The question remains if Jennings can continue his success that will probably keep the freshman primarily on the sidelines. He said after the game he is willing to do whatever it takes for his team to win, even if that means splitting more time with Harris.
But Jennings made it clear he can be the guy who leads LSU to continued success.
"I believe I can be this team's leader. I am a leader now," said Jennings.
Jennings has the backing of his teammates after his career-high 239-yard performance against the Badgers. Receiver Travin Dural, who hauled in a personal best 151 of those yards, said he has seen it all offseason from his quarterback.
"He (Jennings) has grown a lot as a leader, as a quarterback and as an individual. From fall camp to now, he is a totally different person," said Dural. "He's more mature. He is taking football a lot more serious. Just watching film. All day. Every day."
Running back Kenny Hilliard, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown against Wisconsin, feels the same way.
"He (Jennings) is vocal. He has a voice that catches everybody's attention. That's what a quarterback is supposed to do," Hilliard said. "I feel like he is going to lead this team to where we want to be."
LSU's locker room believes Jennings has the leadership skills needed to win at the highest level. Yet he must play better if he wants to cement his status as the lone quarterback for the Tigers.
"We have great expectations for this season. We must continue to work hard and get better every day," said Jennings.
Intangibles, though, are impossible to quantify. Harris could be the more talented of the two and win the job.
But there is one stat that is hard to argue against, which is Jennings' record as a starter.
Two. And. O.
And that is music to Miles' ears.