Anthony Jennings is taking the blame for LSU’s passing woes, but he’s not paying attention to the criticism.
The Tigers’ starting quarterback is ignoring the season-long wave of criticism from fans. It crashed down on him the hardest following LSU’s 17-0 loss at Arkansas.
“You can’t listen to fan criticism — either good or bad,” he said. “It’s just not who we are. In the (football operations) building, coaches, teammates, guys around me ... those are the guys that really matter. Off the field, (things) don’t really matter in my process of getting better as a teammate, as a player and as a person.”
Jennings, a true sophomore, has completed just 47 percent of his passes and has thrown for an average of 123 yards per game this season.
The Tigers (7-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) enter the Thanksgiving night game against Texas A&M (7-4, 3-4) with a passing offense that ranks 111th out of 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
“The problems with the passing game is more on me than anybody else,” Jennings said Thursday.
Jennings received threats on his Twitter page Saturday night and into Sunday. Fans compared him to a garbage can, told him to quit the team and threatened to fight him — or even take his life.
Jennings finished 12-of-22 for 87 yards against the Hogs in a game in which coach Les Miles said he missed on two throws.
The coach defended his quarterback earlier this week.
“He’s awfully motivated. Period. Nobody has to try to motivate him,” Miles said. “He understands what being the quarterback means.
“(The criticism) is not really the fan base. It’s the erratic (people) and those guys whose opinions must be heard, which are not necessarily the fan base speaking out,” the coach said raising his voice. “Not necessarily with real information. They have the opportunity in social media and so they use it. I think Anthony Jennings is a pretty level-headed guy, understands what’s going on. Think he’s looking forward to playing well.”
Jennings said he didn’t read the messages sent to him on Twitter and that he learned about the threats after someone called him with the news.
“I’m ignoring that,” Jennings said. “It doesn’t really affect me at all. People (are) going to talk. You have a great game they’re still going to be like, ‘OK, some things need to get better.’ There’s no reason to buy into any of that. People in the building really matter.”
LSU needs to be less predictable on offense, Miles said this week.
The Tigers were shut out at Arkansas, amassing just 123 yards off offense. That’s the fewest an LSU team has had in a regular-season game in nearly 40 years. The Tigers run the ball 69 percent of the time, a number that leads the league.
“We needed not be as predictable — run and pass,” Miles said. “We’re looking for balance. We want the advantage throws and opportunity for our guys to improve. I think our receivers have to take to heart that they need to come on and make a run here in the back end of the season.”
LSU ran for its lowest total — 36 yards — in five years at Arkansas. Razorbacks linebackers, on a few running plays, appeared to know the direction of LSU’s runs through a signal from Jennings. The linebackers pointed toward a hole seconds before the Tigers ran to that hole and after Jennings made a signal behind his back.
Miles shook off a question about that, saying the Razorbacks came up with a “nice little game plan” during their off week.
“Every team that comes off of a bye week does stuff a little different. Nothing we haven’t seen,” guard Evan Washington said. “They showed stuff they didn’t show before.”
Did they now where LSU’s running plays were going?
“I can’t say they knew exactly,” Washington said. “Maybe they scouted us well. They scouted us. Maybe they knew certain formations. They just had good calls.”
LSU sold out its allotment of 6,000 visitors tickets to the game at Texas A&M, said Brian Broussard, the school’s associate athletic director for ticket sales. ... LSU practiced Wednesday and Thursday and will be off Friday and Saturday before returning to practice Sunday. The Tigers will leave for Texas A&M on Wednesday afternoon.