Brandon Harris sat on a chair against an LSU backdrop with a horde of reporters encircling the highly touted sophomore.
Just to his right, Anthony Jennings did the same. And a few paces away, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron answered questions about a heated battle between the two players for the starting quarterback job.
The scene that unfolded on LSU’s media day Sunday looked eerily similar to the one that transpired a year ago. The mood of the aforementioned trio and the words that flowed from their mouths were strikingly different.
“It’s a new day around here,” Harris said. “Last year is over with. We’re looking forward to the future.”
That new — media — day?
It included a more subdued, humbled Harris from the firecracker interviewee he was a year ago. It included an apologetic, complimentary Jennings, who lauded his competitor and said he “embarrassed” LSU with his arrest over the summer. It included a “pleased” Cameron about Saturday’s scrimmage in Tiger Stadium, and a coach who hinted that the competition is winding down.
All three people were made available to reporters for the first time since spring practice.
No real secrets were revealed, no mysteries solved, no shroud pulled from the on-going battle between the two quarterbacks. Harris seems to have the lead. He’s taken the first and the majority of snaps with the starters during the first 10 days of camp.
Les Miles on Sunday said Harris took “about a half dozen” more first-string snaps than Jennings during Saturday’s closed scrimmage, and that LSU quarterbacks combined to go 20-for-34 for about 200 yards with five dropped passes.
So after scrimmage No. 1, where exactly does the quarterback battle stand right now?
Cameron warned not to “read too much” into the snap counts for the two. And he said LSU isn’t “collectively ready” to name a leader or admit to a bigger separation in the competition compared to this time last year — despite signs pointing to just that.
He did, however, say the battle, at least privately, could end soon.
“I think this week will be a week that really can solidify some things if a guy chooses to do that,” Cameron said. “You’ve got to continue to build. You’ve got to stack quality performances. You’ve got to build on any positives, got to start erasing any negatives.”
Who’s ahead? Who’s behind? Cameron said that could change from one day to the other.
“I remember when Phillip Rivers was ahead of Drew (Brees) and Drew got ahead of Phillip and then Phillip never caught him until Drew moved on,” the coach said. “Right when you think it’s going to play out a certain way, another guy just keeps getting better inch by inch and gets his opportunity and makes the most of it.”
While a decision might come soon behind the scenes, Miles has said it likely won’t be made public until closer to the season opener against McNeese State on Sept. 5. Cameron spoke of an “urgency” on Sunday to get all quarterbacks prepared for the opener.
“The urgency here is completely different than a lot of places. For what we’re playing for, we’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders Week 1,” he said.
Said Cameron on withholding a starting announcement: “I don’t think you’re ever going to give away any strategic advantage that you feel like you may or may not have. We’ll let it play out. We’ll see how Les chooses to handle it.”
The quarterbacks said they haven’t been told when coaches will make a decision on a starter, and Harris, at least, doesn’t care.
“I haven’t earned the starting quarterback job,” Harris said.
The Bossier City native and former four star recruit spoke more politically than ever Sunday but suggested he could start and then lose the job like last season.
“Even if I start Week 1 or Week 2 or if I start, it’s all about what have you done lately,” said Harris, who said he weighs 212 pounds, a near 20-pound gain from his weight last season. “If I go out there and I don’t do very well — you saw last year against Auburn — I could sit the rest of the season. As a QB, you’ve got to get everybody lined up. It’s not all about talent.”
Harris has “grown tremendously,” Cameron said. The coach said the “lights came on” for the quarterback in the spring. Things have gotten brighter over the summer and into camp for a kid who many said had trouble learning the playbook in his first year on campus in 2014.
“It’s like learning a new language,” Cameron said. “The more you do it, the better you get at of it.”
Said Miles of the two quarterbacks in the scrimmage Saturday: “Brandon obviously was a little bit more explosive. Anthony more veteran.”
Cameron said Harris “probably” had an advantage in working out with the starters during summer workouts while Jennings suffered a six-week suspension for a June arrest for an unauthorized entry into a home.
Jennings admits it, too. He lifted and ran on his own while suspended and even threw with receivers outside of the facility, he said.
Still, he said he had to brush away “cobwebs” early in camp, and he feels like he was at a disadvantage because he missed the 7-on-7 player-run workouts.
“Those kind of things help you when it comes to fall camp and into the season, when you know a guy’s gonna break, when you know what they’re going to do,” he said.
Jennings called Harris’ progression and improvement “tremendous.” He also apologized for an arrest that may have sent this quarterback battle into a tailspin — and created, yes, a new day around LSU.
“It was a mistake,” he said. “I was immature at the time. I embarrassed my family. I embarrassed LSU. I embarrassed these coaches.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.