LSU Texas A M Football

LSU quarterback TJ Finley looks for a receiver during the third quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Freshman TJ Finley will start at quarterback against Alabama, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday night, earning his fifth straight start over freshman Max Johnson.

"Plan on playing both if the situation arises," Orgeron said.

Orgeron had said on his weekly radio show Wednesday night Finley would likely start, but LSU didn't finalize the decision until Thursday.

"We're going to have to throw the ball, obviously, and TJ has done a good job for us," Orgeron said. "So has Max. It's very close, but we feel that TJ has a slight edge."

In four games this season, Finley has thrown for 797 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions, struggling during the games in which LSU's offensive line failed to protect the quarterback or create rushing lanes.

LSU used Johnson more last weekend against Texas A&M, trying to call quarterback runs. The plays didn't work. Playing most of the second half after Finley threw a pick-six, Johnson finished 14 of 22 for 113 yards and one touchdown.

Regardless of who plays quarterback, Orgeron said LSU has to call better plays, scheme around its players and prevent free blitzes along the offensive line, a recurrent problem in LSU's last two loses.

"Those young quarterbacks can't put the game on their back," Orgeron said. "We have to support them. Guys have to make plays. We have to protect him."

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com