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ATVS Roundtable: Joe Burrow — Can We Dig It?

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In which the Krewe gives our take on LSU’s quarterback addition.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow; what do you think about his signing, and what do you think it means for LSU moving forward in 2018 and beyond?

Dan

I find myself trying to walk a tightrope of balancing expectations, which are just unborn resentments. It’s unreasonable to expect Joe Burrow to show up as a Heisman contender. The guy has barely played a down of college football and he comes to LSU after losing out in a QB competition. So, let’s use that to level set.

That said, I think we should fully appreciate the gap between he and players that are both inexperienced AND younger. Burrow’s been through a few collegiate offseasons and he’s simply a more mature/grown person at this juncture. There is value in that and it should be absolutely discussed.

But I do like Burrow as a player. I think he’s a nice skill fit for what Ensminger reportedly is looking to do. If he plays as confidently as he did as a prospect, he should come in and be a good decision maker and know how to run this offense as a leader. He’s behind the 8-ball in terms of the playbook, but he should be able to digest it pretty quickly due to his experience. I think the major value he adds is as a barometer for the QB room. Adding Burrow sends the QBs the unspoken message that they aren’t doing enough to distinguish themselves. It falls in line with Orgeron’s compete mantra. It tells them they aren’t above it either. So go compete and beat this guy out if you want the job.

So I see a lot of positives. I expect him to fall somewhere between Cam Newton and Jake Coker in terms of production. Not every QB shows up in the SEC and is a smashing success just because they were formerly great recruits. It took Mettenberger a year. Stidham for Auburn didn’t light the conference on fire immediately. So I’m expecting a year of solid play as he adjusts. Maybe something like Etling in an offense that will produce bigger numbers simply by changing the play choices.

Adam

It’s unfair and the more I think about it the more nihilistic I get.

He could be a top three QB in the conference and nobody will care because LSU probably won’t win 10 games. The memes about LSU quarterbacks will continue: LSU can’t develop QBs and when they realize that they scramble for JUCOs or transfers. Unless he puts up Heisman numbers this song and dance will not change and in 2019 we’re back at square one with Miles or Narcisse or whoever hasn’t transferred at that point.

And even if he is good not great, nobody outside Baton Rouge or people as involved in stats as Bill C. will notice because the schedule is that unfair to the Tigers. In talking to Ohio State fans, they all had nothing but positives to say about him and he really does have the potential to be a dude. But I don’t believe how you can possibly be led to believe that a graduate transfer is going to Cam Newton the team.

So yeah, sure, bring him on. It doesn’t matter if he’s good or bad. Eat at Arby’s.

Billy

I think anything beyond good, solid (Etling-esque, if you will) play is probably unrealistic, but with a team like this, in a new offense and a difficult schedule that’s way more valuable than it seems at first blush. Avoiding the ups and downs of youth — like the occasional snowball game where you toss a couple picks or take too many sacks and get gun-shy — could be the difference in a .500-ish season and nine or 10 wins.

And that brings me to the biggest benefit Burrow brings — insurance. While I don’t believe Orgeron is about to go anywhere here, Burrow provides him (through Steve Ensminger) a better chance show proof of concept. If the offense performs well enough to complement Dave Aranda’s defense that helps calm down (okay, temporarily pacify) most of the Humanoids on the message boards, and helps the staff close out the strong recruiting class. In theory, with that talent infusion, LSU is then ready to get back to being a true title contender in 2019. If you lose an extra game or two trying to work around the growing pains of Myles Brennan and/or Lowell Narcisse, that becomes a lot harder to do.

To say nothing of the fact that (hopefully) the extra time behind Burrow yields even more dividends for the younger quarterbacks down the line. Just because Brennan or Narcisse aren’t ready to take the job now, doesn’t mean they won’t be ready for it down the road. It’s hard to bet against any quarterback transferring these days, but Orgeron can sell both players on possibly having two full seasons behind Burrow. And that’s as much as they’re likely to find by transferring, given that they’d have to sit out a year anyway.

Burrow gives LSU the best chance to set all of these dominoes up. Question now is whether he helps them fall the way Orgeron and Co. are hoping.

Crissy

The signing of Joe Burrow was a very necessary thing for LSU. I also believe the decision to start him right now is a no-brainer. Technically, we can say the quarterback competition is still “open” for the time being. But honestly, do you think a grad transfer who grabbed the interest of multiple programs around the country is going to sign with a team if he’s not going to start?

LSU has had good fortune with grad transfers in the past, and Burrow should be no exception. He comes from a place that has a solid reputation of developing quarterbacks, and has flashed great potential in the meager amount of snaps he’s played, which is still more than every other Tiger QB combined.

Now, it is true that Burrow entering the system in the midst of what is expected to be a very difficult season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls a Zach Mettenberger and has a forgettable season this go around, then comes out and kills it next year. He’s the best option LSU has to put under center, but expectations need to be kept realistic given the circumstances. I see him being at least as good as Etling, although I do expect Burrow’s numbers to surpass his by the end of his college career.

As for the other guys on the roster, consistency is key. It is also something everyone in the current quarterback room has yet to show. Based on what we’ve seen, Justin McMillan is the most reliable choice, but I definitely wouldn’t put him in over Burrow. If I do want to give him a major role right now, I’m running a two-quarterback rotation with he and Burrow.

Poseur

Signing Burrow was the natural result of Justin McMillan appearing to win the job in spring. Look, all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others. And there’s no way the coaching staff wanted the least heralded recruit to win the open quarterback competition. If Myles Brennan would have stepped up a seized control of the job like he was supposed to, the staff likely doesn’t make the push for Burrow.

Burrow isn’t quite a vote of no confidence for the quarterbacks that were on the roster, but it’s not a ringing endorsement either. No one emerged as the starter, so the staff went out and got the starter elsewhere. And that’s the right move because this isn’t an offense that likely will have a big learning curve for the quarterback. this isn’t the typical “hey come on in and hand the ball off to the All World Running Back” plan we’ve been able to roll out for the past four seasons. It’s now up to the quarterback to hit the ground running and make the offense go. That means getting a guy who can play right now.

I don’t think the staff made a move they wanted to make in the abstract, but was a move they feel they had to make in order to run the offense next year. and that’s the kind of hard decisions you want your staff to make They aren’t here to give everyone free ice cream. When there is a hole on the roster, you go fill it.