Freshman quarterback Brandon Harris will get the start at No. 5 Auburn on Saturday, LSU coach Les Miles said during his Monday press conference.
Harris out-dueled sophomore Anthony Jennings in the win over New Mexico State, entering the game in the second quarter and leading No. 15 LSU (4-1, 0-1 Southeastern) to touchdowns on his seven drives. Jennings played the first seven possessions of the game. The Tigers’ offense scored once, and Jennings threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Harris will be the first true freshman to start a game at LSU since Jordan Jefferson did it in 2008. He’s poised to be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for LSU this early in a season since Jamie Howard started Game 4 in 1992.
He’ll do it against the reigning SEC champions, Auburn (4-0, 1-0), at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Under second-year coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers are 11-0 at home.
Miles said he made the decision to start Harris after watching a replay of Satuday’s game.
“I don’t think it was a difficult decision,” Miles said.
Harris, a Parkway High product, has thrown 30 passes this season, completed 22 for 394 yards and has six touchdowns passes. Going back to the 34-29 loss against Mississippi State, Harris has led LSU to touchdowns on nine of his last 10 series.
“He took a bad snap and scored. There’s some ad-lib to his game that’s very positive,” Miles said. “He’s a guy who really is fast and can really throw the ball. If you put him in a quality position to extend a play, and some good things can happen.”
Harris enrolled early in January and immediately began competing with Jennings for the No. 1 job. He wowed spectators at the Tigers’ spring game but lost the starting gig during a back-and-forth battle with Jennings in August.
Harris got three snaps in the first half in the season-opening win over Wisconsin and then saw nothing but mop-up duty over the next two games – blowout wins over Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe.
A turning point came in a home loss to Mississippi State.
He entered for an injured Jennings with 3:43 left and LSU down 34-16. He threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the final four minutes, nearly helping the Tigers pull of an improbable comeback.
On Saturday, he continued his successful engineering of LSU’s offense, marching the Tigers down the field for scoring drives of 80, 62, 70, 3, 75, 74 and 65. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 178 yards.