Another year, another question mark at the quarterback position. Such has held true at LSU for years now.
LSU has become a soft landing spot for transfer QB’s, particularly pro-style passers. Most notably, players like Zach Mettenberger and Danny Etling who later went on to the NFL after leaving another institution for Baton Rouge.
As it stands, the Tigers are lacking their “it” QB. Someone who is already developed both physically and mentally enough to light the SEC on fire. With the experience he’s got under his belt as a grad transfer, and his 6-foot-3, 216 pound frame, Ohio State transferring QB Joe Burrow may already be there.
Burrow’s experience level may not be through the roof, but it tops that of any current LSU QB. In his college career, Burrow has completed 29-of-40 passes for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. The most experienced QB on LSU’s current roster is sophomore Myles Brennan, who is 14-of-24 for 142 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
At this point, coaches know what they have in their current three on the roster. So the fact they’re so hotly pursuing a graduate transfer gives a pretty clear indication as to what kind of state the Tigers are in at the position.
LSU also happens to be in the early processes of installing a new offense, so it’s not a bad time for another QB to jump in. It’s true Burrow would be slightly behind, but it wouldn’t be by any significant measure.
And according to his former head coach Urban Meyer, Burrow is a quick learner who would be able to meet the challenge.
“Joe has to be one of the most-improved quarterback with delivery speed and arm,” he said. “He’s always been a smart, tough guy and a very good leader. His improvement is very notable over the last couple years. You’re seeing the ball come out a lot faster.”
Granted he does choose LSU over Cincinnati, Burrow’s biggest competition is expected to be Brennan.
However, it’s hard to dismiss the fact Brennan has gone from the sure-to-be starter that competed so closely with Etling last year, to someone who’s not wholly expected to even beat out Narcisse and McMillan anymore. He put on arguably the most disappointing performance in the Spring Game, completing 11-of-21 passes with a touchdown and a lone interception.
Now, this is not to say Brennan doesn’t have a lot going for him here. He’s got the edge in terms of experience last year, even taking some snaps against teams like Alabama.
He’s also got an absolute cannon of an arm.
On the bright side Myles Brennan can throw a ball over those mountains there... so that's nice pic.twitter.com/jALvvz6QvL— Barstool LSU (#4 2018 Basketball Recruiting Class) (@LSUBarstool) October 1, 2017
But at this point, you have to wonder if he’s fallen short of the expectation for him at LSU. He still looks rattled and unsure in the pocket, and struggles to make smart decisions in high pressure situations. Alabama showcased that perfectly.
My view of Alabama freshman LB Dylan Moses sacking LSU quarterback Myles Brennan. pic.twitter.com/8FHEnRfLZl— Stephen M. Smith (@CoachingMSmith) November 6, 2017
Orgeron has also implied that he’ll need to see a lot more from Brennan - and his other two guys on the roster - before anyone is handed the starting title.
Freshman Lowell Narcisse was another highly touted recruit, and still provides an intriguing dual-threat option. His lack of accuracy makes him a bit of a wild card that may be hard to trust under center, though.
Justin McMillan is a more comfortable choice, having spent more time at LSU than the other two on the roster. The junior put on the best performance at the position in the Spring Game, appearing the most confident and showing his ability to move in and out of the pocket - something that’s important to be able to do behind an offensive line like LSU’s. McMillan went 13-for-27 for 182 yards with 1 touchdown, rushing nine times for 69 yards.
#LSU Jr. QB #12 Justin McMillan 6-3/215➡Jr. WR #14 Drake Davis 6-4/218 GD touch on the deep throw by McMillan & a GD adjustment by Davis; displaying the Body Ctrl to keep his feet inbounds for the TD. pic.twitter.com/QbIlastZFz— Matt Caraccio (@Matty_S2S) May 8, 2018
Still, each of these guys looked pretty lackluster during the Spring Game. Obviously, one should not put much stock into a game such as this, but it did serve as an illustration as to just how wide-open the competition really is.
Could there be a chance some of these new and flashy recruits were overhyped into something they aren’t? Regardless of the answer to that question, some added depth and insurance is nothing to pass up.
There is the possibility LSU is simply just looking for more options. Maybe they are still fully planning on starting Brennan, and just want another solid pro-style option if they realize he’s not their guy midway through the season.
Burrow was good enough to be a starter in Ohio. His reason for transferring doesn’t lie in character issues or a lack of talent - but simply in the fact Ohio is absolutely stacked at QB. With that lucky problem, there’s just no room for Burrow to get playing time.
He was the team’s backup behind J.T. Barrett last August, and was only surpassed by junior Dwayne Haskins after a broken hand kept him sidelined.
Orgeron has mentioned on numerous occasions that he and Ensminger plan to run a spread offense with three and four wide receiver sets. Such a scheme works out grandly for a QB like Burrow.
Just by taking a glance at his film, it’s easy to see Burrow is an accurate passer who is both comfortable and poised in the pocket. And despite his classification as a pro-style guy, there’s some hidden mobility in there.
In Ohio, Burrow has spent three years as a member of a program that has successfully developed QB’s and took home a National Championship title partially because they had three solid athletes at the position.
And Burrow knows his worth.
“Well I came here to play,” he said. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years. I know I’m a pretty good quarterback. I want to play somewhere.”
LSU desperately needs a sense of consistency and reliability in a signal caller right now, and it’s in Orgeron’s best interest to do what it takes to get Burrow in Death Valley.