Ready for Round 2?
LSU’s starting quarterback position, as expected, will be open for competition during spring practice.
Starter Anthony Jennings and true freshman Brandon Harris will battle for the job for a second straight spring practice, and coach Les Miles expects to pick a starter after drills end.
“This will be a very competitive spring,” Miles said. “Out of spring, I’d like to pick another starter. It could be Anthony. It could be, certainly, Brandon. Competition will have to continue there.”
Competition at the position has been steady since Harris enrolled last January as a highly touted true freshman who many thought would assume the starting job by midseason.
He did, of course. Harris excelled off of the bench enough in stints against New Mexico State and Mississippi State to earn the starting gig at Auburn.
The 19-year-old from Bossier City struggled in that game, and he never saw significant playing time in the final seven games, a baffling development.
Jennings completed 48 percent of his passes for 1,611 yards this season — a per-game average of 124 yards, which ranks as one of the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Jennings’ completion percentage is the worst for an LSU starter since Marcus Randall completed 48.1 percent in 2002.
He showed “indecision” against Notre Dame in a 31-28 loss in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday, Miles said after the game. Jennings went 7-for-14 for 151 yards — including a 75-yard touchdown — against the Irish.
Jennings defended his play.
“I made the decision when I was on the field, didn’t want to throw into things like double coverage,” the sophomore from Georgia said. “Wanted to get to the checkdowns. They were kind of covered in the checkdowns, so I made some plays with my feet.”
Harris did not play in the bowl game, and Jennings said earlier this week that he was receiving all of the No. 1 snaps in practice.
The two will now clash during spring practice — again.
“I’m going to continue to work hard, continue to get better with my craft, continue to uplift the guys around me and go into the competition with the utmost confidence that I’m going to be the starter,” Jennings said.
Harris spoke to reporters just a handful of times this season. LSU does not often make true freshmen available for interviews.
Harris voiced some frustration through his Twitter account early in the season, but he’s since sent out positive messages, suggesting that he’s committed to remaining at LSU.
Harris finished the season 25-for-45 (55 percent) for 452 yards, throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions.
The starting battle appears to be a two-man race like last year. Justin McMillan, a three-star prospect from Texas, is the only quarterback in the 2015 class. Though he’ll enroll early in January, McMillan isn’t thought to be a player who can immediately play, recruiting analysts say.
LSU will also add preferred walk-on quarterback Caleb Lewis, a Florida prospect offered scholarships by a host of small schools.
Asked about the future of the quarterback position after Tuesday’s game, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron didn’t divulge specifics but as a whole said the Tigers’ future on offense is bright.
“Very optimistic about the future,” he said. “Future is extremely bright offensively.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.