The off-season buzz regarding the progression and maturity of sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris is real, the QB says.
He’s all grown up.
“That’s been my whole message this off-season,” Harris said, “control what I can control, spending more time up here, spending more time with the guys rather than try to rush and get home or watch TV or whatever the case may be.”
Harris and junior Anthony Jennings are in a quarterback competition that appears to be loosening up as the Sept. 5 season opener against McNeese State quickly approaches.
Harris continues to receive the first snaps with the starters and a majority of the first-string reps overall in practices. He’s expected to see a majority of the starting snaps in LSU’s second scrimmage of preseason camp set for Saturday morning.
It marks what might be a pivotal event in the race for LSU’s starting QB job. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said last week that this week “could solidify some things” in the battle.
The scrimmage is closed to the public and media. Coach Les Miles is scheduled to address reporters afterward.
Meanwhile, Harris continues to hold, at the very least, a slim lead in a competition with Jennings that started last spring, continued through last season and waged over the summer and in the first two weeks of preseason camp.
“(I’m) wanting it more,” Harris said at the team’s media day on Sunday. “Understanding the talent that God’s blessed me with and the ability that I have and understanding that, like all of the guys told me, just give us the ball. You don’t have to do too much.”
Harris claims he’s “night and day” from last year, when many believe he didn’t completely grasp the playbook. Jennings started 12 of the 13 games, completing just 48 percent of his passes in a tumultuous year through the air.
Jennings says he has grown, too, specifically with his feet work. It’s the key, he said, to accuracy issues.
“Footwork and that’s kind of the basis of quarterback. You don’t have the correct footwork, ball’s going to go high, going to go low,” Jennings said. “And also being smart, knowing where to go with the ball, knowing where the checkdowns are. Being smarter in the game and also footwork is crucial.”
Thomas ‘smarter,’ practicing every day
Corey Thompson hasn’t played a football game in 20 months, but he’s feeling more mentally ready than ever after his injury-induced hiatus from the sport.
“I feel like it was more of a learning experience and just … I’m smarter on the field than what I was,” the LSU junior safety said. “I’m out there making calls. I’m more fluid with being back there.”
Thompson tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Game 11 of the 2013 season against Texas A&M, ending his season – and the next season. The injury lingered, and he needed another small procedure to “clean up” the area in February of this year.
He missed spring practice, but the Texas native has returned to the field and is practicing every day pain free, he says.
He might see more action early in the season after Jalen Mills suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out of, at least, the first two games of the year.
“I’ve been getting (in the) rotation,” he said earlier this week.
Thompson said coaches discussed moving to linebacker, but it’s something that he’s “not doing right now.” LSU has just seven scholarship linebackers, and coaches already have moved former safety Devin Voorhies to linebacker.
Linebacker Lamar Louis shed his green non-contact jersey in last Saturday’s scrimmage and is fully healthy, he said. Louis suffered a strained pectoral muscle while lifting weights in the summer.
Receiver John Diarse has donned a green non-contact injury for much of this week, but he’s believed to have a minor injury. He’s been running full speed at practice.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.