What seemed so obvious, what was so widely expected, is now finally official: Joe Burrow, starter. Myles Brennan, backup.
LSU’s shallow quarterback depth chart finally has a pecking order. A hierarchy. As Lawrence Welk would have said, “A one and a two …”
Now is the time for Burrow, play caller Steve Ensminger and the rest of the LSU offense to make beautiful music together.
A winning score, if you will pardon the double entendre.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters in the noon hour Monday he wanted to tell the team before revealing the decision publicly, a decision he said was reached just earlier that morning in consultation with Ensminger.
Of course, the news leaked out early. News this big always leaks out early. It finally became official when LSU released a depth chart shortly before 3 p.m.
Said depth chart is replete with the designation “-OR-” at several positions, an indication LSU has not decided on or is not ready to name a starter. There is an "-OR-" at running back, one at one of the wide receiver spots and one at cornerback, all key positions.
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None are more critical than the one behind center. And now, finally, the Tigers have one man there. It's Burrow, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior who has two years of eligibility remaining after coming to LSU as a graduate transfer from Ohio State.
Coach O removed the “-OR-” at the quarterback position after nearly four weeks of competition that sent Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse scurrying for Tulane and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, respectively, when it became apparent this was a two-horse race and neither of them was going to win or place.
Orgeron said it came down to a virtual photo finish between Burrow and Brennan. He said at his first game week news conference that the competition was so close he would have been happy with either one being the starter Sunday against Miami in Arlington, Texas.
"But let me say this to you," he said. "If he (Burrow) does not perform well, we have no problem putting in the second-team quarterback.”
That may be so much coachspeak, of course, and Orgeron has done his level best throughout this whole quarterback derby to keep everyone’s chin up with his public comments. Truth is, every coach deep down wants one quarterback to shine above the rest and establish himself as the star.
The question in this case is how much was Burrow actually able to do that. Orgeron said the decision came down to how the quarterbacks graded out. They were within one passing practice rep of each other, 428-427.
So, apparently, this electoral college was inches away from being thrown into the House of Representatives to break the deadlock.
"Every situation was given a grade," Orgeron said. "It’s marked down on a sheet of paper, the percentages. Our players saw it — they knew it, and they received the grades every day, so it was obvious to them. And I thought Steve did a tremendous job of doing this the whole camp.
“It was a very close decision. It see-sawed back and forth last week. The grades were very close. Either quarterback could have won out. Steve and I talked a little about it last night. I said, ‘Let’s sleep on it. Let’s make sure this is what we want to do.’ We went with the grades, and the winner came out on a sheet of paper with the grades, and that was the deciding factor.”
What were Burrow and Brennan graded on?
“Leadership, maturity, how to handle pressure, work ethic, individual study time," Orgeron said. "All of that went into it.”
If the competition was as thin as the paper LSU’s depth chart is printed on because both Burrow and Brennan performed so well in August practices and scrimmages, that’s great news for LSU. If it was because they were both so mediocre that this became a lesser-of-two-evils decision, that will not bode well for LSU’s season or ultimately Orgeron’s tenure as coach.
A hung jury at the end of spring practice between Brennan, McMillan and Narcisse is the reason LSU brought in Burrow, the graduate transfer from Ohio State, in the first place. LSU needed someone better.
Joe Burrow will be LSU's starting quarterback when the Tigers take the field against Miami on Sunday. That's what coach Ed Orgeron will tell h…
The passing numbers from the scrimmages are not encouraging, even coming against what Orgeron accurately described as LSU's "salty" defense. Burrow and Brennan were a combined 15-of-43 passing two Saturdays ago with one touchdown and two interceptions, though it must be stressed that numbers from closed scrimmages can be wildly misleading. There were reports that filtered out of the scrimmage that both quarterbacks were victimized by numerous dropped passes.
Monday's practice, the first with the quarterback battle decided, was not a scrimmage but a light workout. The Tigers practiced under cover of their indoor facility in shorts and jerseys. Burrow and Brennan did not look much different than in previous practices. If Burrow seemed to have a slightly more authoritative air about him, it was probably psychological as much as anything else.
But it is high time LSU has someone take charge. The Tigers need a hero at quarterback in these troubled times. Maybe not a Superman, but at least an Ironman, one of your B-list superheroes who doesn’t have superpowers but is rich enough to afford lots of amazing gadgetry.
If Burrow is good enough to win the job, he must have enough gadgetry at his disposal to to help LSU pile up the wins, to putty over the cracks and crevices in the Tigers’ offense with his savvy and skill.
It is, to be sure, a tall order. This is Burrow’s first win, and Sunday marks his first career collegiate start. For LSU’s sake, he needs to be good enough to lead the Tigers to many more.
LSU released its first depth chart of the season Monday in advance of Sunday's season opener against Miami at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.