The summer forecast for LSU’s quarterback position remains cloudy.
Coach Les Miles said Tuesday that he wants one of his top two quarterbacks — Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris — to separate himself over the summer. The coach would like to enter fall camp in August with a designated No. 1 quarterback.
When and if that will happen, not even Miles can say.
“I would like to see those guys, going into fall camp, separate themselves from the other and (for it to) be a clear-cut decision,” Miles said during the Southeastern Conference Western Division coaches’ post-spring teleconference. “If that does not happen — (and we) can’t make it happen — we’ll end up playing that guy who we feel like is the best for our team.”
LSU exited spring practice without a winner in a hotly contested battle that’s garnered the national spotlight, a competition that could stretch into the regular season for the second straight year.
Miles hopes that doesn’t happen. He wants a starter to emerge over the team’s player-driven summer workouts.
“It really depends how summer goes,” he said. “If that guy separates himself, he’s proven by a great summer of work that he’s ready to be the quarterback, that’s what happens.”
LSU’s passing offense ranked 114th of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams last season. Jennings, who started 12 of 13 games, had the worst completion percentage (48 percent) of any regular SEC starter.
Harris, once a highly recruited talent from Bossier City, struggled in his one starting opportunity at Auburn. He never saw significant playing time over the last half of the season, attempting just one pass.
Miles described the difference between the two as small.
“I think there’s a real closeness,” he said. “One guy hasn’t separated himself from the other, and both guys are playing much better.”
Will a two-month summer separate the two? It’s unclear. Summer workouts are led by players, but the NCAA loosened the policy regarding summer practice last year.
Coaches can require their players to participate in up to eight hours per week of summer activities, including conditioning, weight training and up to two hours of film study per week. They may also observe workouts and weight training and can watch film with players — all of which was not allowed before last year.
Miles said LSU could play both quarterbacks this season out of necessity, but he prefers to “have a starter, would like to have the guy.”
If one player doesn’t separate himself from the other, the non-starter could see time rotating into games, Miles suggested.
“I think the idea that we have a guy that’s going to compete with him — whoever the starter would be — come right in and step in maybe in the second series,” Miles said. “I think there’s an advantage to that as well. ... We’re in the deciding process of who’s the best quarterback for our team.”
Eye on the defense
Miles said the team has felt the impact this spring of its three new coaches: defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and wide receivers coach Tony Ball.
“Kevin is very knowledgeable, capable, and does things very similarly to what we’ve done in the past,” Miles said. “Ed brings great enthusiasm and enjoyment. And the players are responding well to Coach Ball.”
Specifically, Miles talked about Maquedius Bain, Deondre Clark and Tashawn Bower as “strong but young ends.” He said LSU’s linebacker corps “may be the fastest group we’ve ever had.”
Noil’s status at A&M
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said wide receiver Speedy Noil is back in good graces with the team after a suspension during the Aggies’ final week of spring practice.
“He’s back with us,” Sumlin said. “He’s done the things we’ve asked him to do.”
The former Edna Karr standout was third on the team with 46 catches as a freshman in 2014 for 583 yards and five touchdowns.
Gus gushes over Muschamp
Not surprisingly, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn had high praise for his new defensive coordinator, former Florida head coach and LSU defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
“It helps me to have a guy who was a head coach in our league,” Malzahn said. “His expectations are extremely high. He brings his ‘A’ game to every day, every meeting.”