Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris may not have as much freedom within LSU’s offense as he indicated earlier this week – that’s, at least, according to coach Les Miles.
Harris said he checked out of passing plays and into safer runs several times during the No. 13 Tigers’ 21-19 win at Mississippi State last Saturday. But Miles told a different story during his weekly radio show Wednesday night.
“We did not check much in the game at all,” Miles said. “I guess under a new quarterback, he can certainly say that.”
Harris said Monday that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called “well over 25” passing plays during the game, but he audibled out of those calls based on the defense’s formation and pressure.
Factoring in his 14 pass attempts and handful of scrambles, the quarterback purportedly checked out of at least seven or eight passes. Miles, however, said Harris “has little freedom to check into things that we’ve not already given to him.”
As far as the Tigers’ game plan, which featured 47 rushes against 14 throws, the coach stuck by his formula.
“There were some called passes that were not complete,” Miles said. “We were also in a position where we’ve got a back that’s gonna rush for just under 200 yards. We enjoyed giving him the ball as well. We’re talented, we have the ability to do both things and we’d like to be a little bit more balanced. Frankly, the game didn’t call for it.”
Miles said earlier this week that he expects Harris to throw more when No. 13 LSU (1-0) hosts No. 18 Auburn (2-0) on Saturday afternoon at Tiger Stadium.
So much for using five and six receivers this season.
The Tigers used only three receivers — junior Travin Dural and sophomores Malachi Dupre and John Diarse — during their win against the Bulldogs. Sophomores Trey Quinn, who started last year, did not play on offense, and DJ Chark did not play in the game.
Miles indicated he may dig deeper into the depth at receiver moving forward.
“I think the guys that did not play in this game will have an opportunity to play in others,” Miles said during his weekly press luncheon Monday. “I don’t think there’s any question that those guys will step onto the field here pretty quick.”
Junior tight end DeSean Smith flexed out as a slot man in a few four-receiver sets. On the one play LSU lined up in five-wide, sophomore running back Leonard Fournette was the fifth receiver.
If Tashawn Bower manages to sack Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson, it’ll be a reunion a few years in the making.
Bower and Johnson were a part of the 2013 recruiting class, and Bower said they went on a few visits together. LSU and Auburn recruited both players.
“Good kid, high character,” Bower said of Johnson. “He has definitely shown (he) wants to get after it. Someone who is going to take what they did last week and improve on it the next week.”
Johnson, more of a pocket passer than a scrambler, differs from the recent slew of run-happy Auburn quarterbacks. Through the first two games of the season, he has rushed only nine times for 18 yards. But Bower and junior defensive tackle Christian LaCouture said Johnson can be a threat when he decides to run.
“He’s a great quarterback who can throw it. He’s not afraid to run,” Bower said. “He’s comfortable in the pocket, which is good. But he’s definitely not afraid to hurt you with his feet.”
The AFCA Coaches Trophy’ will make the third stop of its 10-week tour in Baton Rouge for LSU’s showdown with Auburn this Saturday.
The trophy is presented to the school ranked No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll at the end of the season. Fans can take pictures with trophy, which will be located in Tiger One Village from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The trophy will also be displayed in LSU’s Student Union from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
LSU holds a 27-21-1 lead in the series with Auburn, which began in 1901.
Auburn routed LSU 41-7 in Auburn last year, continuing a dominant run for the home team in this series. Since 2000, the home Tigers are 13-2, with LSU posting a pair of wins in that span at Auburn in 2008 and 2012. LSU has won seven straight against Auburn in Tiger Stadium dating back to 2001, including a 35-21 win in 2013, and holds a 16-5-1 lead in games played in Baton Rouge.
Advocate sportswriters Sheldon Mickles and Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.