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2018 LSU Spring Football: Quarterbacks

Young passers hoping to take the reigns of LSU’s offense into a new era.

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, it’s always a labor to talk about quarterbacks at LSU outside of the lense of recent history. Although if Dan and Poseur’s Greatest Game series has taught us anything, it’s that LSU’s issues throwing the football bridge multiple decades and multiple eras.

Ed Orgeron has long since wanted to change that, and he plans on doing it with Steve Ensminger coaching two former high school All-American recruits.

2018 LSU Spring Roster: Quarterbacks

Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
15 Myles Brennan (So.) 6-4, 193 14-24 182 1 2 58.30% 3 11.10% 5.9 6 non-sack carries for 17 yards, lost 1 fumble.
12 Justin McMillan (Jr.) 6-3, 210 One rush for -1 yards in one game appearance.
2 Lowell Narcisse (RS-Fr.) 6-2, 231 Redshirted.

Yes, fourth-year junior Justin McMillan is on hand as well, and doing his best to push the duo of 2017 recruits Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse. But realistically, this will be the Myles And/Or Lowell Show this fall.

With so many unknowns, there isn’t a whole lot of old and new to discuss here, to be honest. So let’s just go with what we know, and the little that we’ve learned this spring.

In the big picture, LSU’s new offense should look like something that will focus on spread formations and multi-receiver sets. Pass-first style, but with an emphasis on wide/tight zone running, some tempo and run-pass options.

We’ll try to gather more, but think more the NFL brands of the spread from successful teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. Or at least, those are the teams Ensminger has spent the most time working with.

Whether Narcisse or Brennan wins this competition, the new attack should fit the strengths of both players.

Brennan came in with the obvious early edge of having some actual playing time as a true freshman. He’s a taller, skinnier pocket passer — although he has quick enough feet to scramble in the pocket and pick up first downs from time to time — with a nice arm. As a true frosh, he flashed solid processing ability in terms of understanding reads and progressions. The ability to look off receivers and find his outlets. His biggest issues involved the speed of the game and trusting the play; his protection, where receivers are supposed to be, etc... Although that’s a fairly normal problem for a freshman.

The larger issue may be Brennan’s slight frame. He doesn’t strike me as somebody that’s ever going to bulk up into the 215-220-pound range, and a 6-4, 195-pound target might struggle to stand up to the grind of an SEC schedule. Quarterbacks haven’t been live this spring, but with two perspective starting tackles out, keeping Brennan upright has been a challenge at times. He’ll have to learn to get the ball out quickly in order to compensate at times.

Although the short/intermediate style of passing game Ensminger would like to lead with should lend a hand there.

Lowell Narcisse appears to be back to 100 percent and has been impressive this spring. It’s easy to forget that Narcisse was considered on track to be the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in his 2016 recruiting cycle before a pair of knee injuries. He’s a thick, well-built, powerful runner with a very strong left arm. Between media accounts and conversations with sources, Narcisse throws the better deep ball of the two quarterbacks. But his short/intermediate accuracy remains inconsistent. But, at 225 pounds, the potential punch he could add to the Tiger running game may balance things out.

That brings us to the competition this spring — do not expect a resolution any time soon. As it is, Orgeron has made it clear he has no plans to name a starter until game week for the season opener with Miami. He’s also hinted that he wouldn’t be opposed to playing both Brennan and Narcisse as he sees fit.

One big obvious reason is that LSU can’t afford to have either quarterback transfer based on competition results. But there’s another issue that hasn’t gotten much play to date: the simple fact that there’s no true way to give these two kids a complete evaluation without seeing both in game action.

Narcisse hasn’t played a full season of football since 2014. Coaches can’t be totally sure how he’ll react to a big hit, a big mistake, anything, until they see how it plays out against a live opponent. Does he trust his knees making cuts in the open field? Can he shrug off a sack or interception and keep firing? Drop a shoulder on a cornerback in the open field? Can he stay dialed in and on an even keel when things are going well?

And there’s really no way to test the more physical aspects of this without game action, because LSU likewise can’t afford to make quarterbacks live and risk injury to Narcisse either.

Both Brennan and Narcisse have had their moments this spring — per LSU’s released stats, Brennan completed 42 of 62 pass attempts for 513 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while Narcisse has completed 23 of 45 for 389 with no reported touchdowns or interceptions. Obviously, scrimmage stats paint an incredibly incomplete picture; there’s no situational perspective, plus without live fire it’s impossible to truly know how Narcisse’s running ability could be factored in.

So what’s the result? Right now, chances are we’ll see Brennan take snap one against the Hurricanes on Labor Day Weekend. Narcisse will rotate in for a set package or series, and how both players handle things from there will determine who takes the reins full-time moving forward.