Coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Brantley has a lower leg injury that won’t require surgery, but it will keep the senior sidelined at least a week. Muschamp said he will update Brantley’s status every Monday, an indication it might not be a short-team setback.
Freshman Jeff Driskel was penciled in to start against the Tigers, but Muschamp said fellow freshmen Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy will get repetitions in practice this week.
“We’ve been pleased with Jeff and his progress and where he is right now at the quarterback position,” Muschamp said. “But all those guys will rep, and who practices the best will be the guys that’ll play and give us the best opportunity to have success.”
Brantley injured his right leg on a sack late in the first half of Saturday night’s 38-10 loss to Alabama. He did not return.
A fifth-year senior who waited three years behind Tim Tebow, Brantley has completed 65 percent of his passes this season for 942 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 190 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, against the Crimson Tide.
“John’s disappointed,” Muschamp said. “He was playing very well. He really threw the ball extremely well against a really good football team. He’s disappointed. Hurting for him, but it’s time to pick up the other guy, and that’s what our football team will do.”
Muschamp declined to give many specifics about Brantley’s injury. But he acknowledged it was a big loss for a team with little experience behind him.
“John’s playing extremely well for us right now, and players have a lot of confidence in him and how he’s played,” Muschamp said. “But, again, we’ve got to pick it up around him. ... It’s not just a one-man deal. It’s a collective deal around him as a football team.”
Driskel, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, has played in four games this season. He completed 7 of 16 passes for 73 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has rushed 12 times for 26 yards.
But it remains to be seen whether he’s even close to prepared for making his first career start on the road and against one of the best defenses in the country. LSU ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense, allowing 12.8 points per game, and fourth in total defense.
“Jeff’s a very mature young man,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that went through spring with us; he’s an outstanding athlete and an outstanding quarterback. He’s got legs, he can run, he’s a guy that can give you some variety as far as escaping the pocket and evading the rush, so that’s a positive.”
Muschamp said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will tweak the game plan around Driskel’s strengths.
“I think more than anything you do what he can do and you do what he does well, and that’s what Charlie will do,” Muschamp said. “We talked about it this morning as far as how we will approach the game. There’s no question that you hit it with the mindset of doing the things he feels comfortable with.
“It’s no different than what we did with John. Do the things he feels comfortable with, regardless of the experience level. It may not be as much, obviously, because of the experience. But we’re going to do the things he does well and the things he feels comfortable with.”