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LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14) looks for a receiver as Arkansas defensive lineman Tre Williams (55) applies pressure during the first half at Tiger Stadium Saturday Nov. 13, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La.

After freshman quarterback Garrett Nussmeier played the majority of LSU’s overtime loss to Arkansas, coach Ed Orgeron said Monday that Nussmeier will return to a backup role behind sophomore Max Johnson for the remainder of the season.

“I don’t feel like Garrett beat Max out,” Orgeron said. “I don’t think that Max deserves to be benched.”

LSU planned to play both quarterbacks last Saturday, and Nussmeier entered on LSU’s third possession. The Tigers had punted twice.

Nussmeier led LSU on two straight scoring drives, but the offense stalled for the rest of a 16-13 loss. Nussmeier completed 58.1% of his passes (18 of 31) for 179 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“I gave him a chance to beat (Johnson) out,” Orgeron said. “The touchdown play he made was a phenomenal play, but we were also minus-three in the turnover (margin), and we only scored seven points. So Max is still our starter.”

Johnson has completed 59.9% of his passes this season for 2,190 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, but he passed for less than 200 yards in three straight games before LSU played Arkansas. Orgeron said Johnson handled the benching “like a champ” by not questioning the decision.

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Nussmeier has now appeared in four games this season. If he plays another snap, he will lose his opportunity to redshirt, which would give him an extra year of eligibility. Understanding how valuable the additional season can be, Orgeron believes players and their families should make that choice about their future.

“It’s going to be up to Garrett and his father if they want to redshirt or if they want to play in a backup role,” Orgeron said, “and perhaps, again, go in a game and if he plays better, keep him in.

"But if I were him, I’d redshirt. There’s only two games left, but that’s not my decision.”

Orgeron then once again clarified that he gives every player the option to redshirt, but when it then comes to who actually plays in the game, he makes the final call.

“I’m giving them the chance to redshirt or not,” Orgeron said. “That’s what I do for everybody. Now, who plays in this football game, I’ll decide that.”

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