It’s a pivotal season for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow as the first game of the 2019 college football season stands just over five months away.
Just a year ago, Burrow was seeing his first real action under center since his high school days at Athens. Now, he has the chance to not just to show he’s worthy of a spot on an NFL roster, but to cement himself into LSU history.
He says he feels like “one of the guys” now, as if he’s hardly new to Baton Rouge at all.
“I don’t even think about it anymore,” he said. “It hasn’t even been a year yet, but it feels like five.”
One thing that has especially stood out about Burrow since his transfer is his athletic ability.
As the 2018 season went on, it seemed the coaching staff was implementing more designed quarterback runs, allowing the signal-caller to take more risks and use his legs — despite his aversion to sliding.
When Burrow was asked if he asked for more responsibility on offense last year or if it was simply given to him, Burrow said it was his decision to step up and become even more involved in the scheme.
“Yeah, I asked for it,” Burrow explained. “Towards the end of the year, they trusted me enough to give it to me. I think the last few games as an offense we played as well as we could, but that’s not going to be good enough next year.”
According to Burrow, fans are going to like what they see out of a new-look LSU offense in the upcoming year.
“I really like our new offense. I think you guys are going to really like where we’re going.”
The addition of passing game coordinator Joe Brady has a lot to do with that, and players seem to be taking to him well.
“Coach Joe is bringing in some stuff he got from Penn State and from the Saints. We’re kind of mixing it all into what we have now. Spring is a time for creative innovation and we’re kind of in that process right now.”
It also helps that LSU’s receiving corps is all returning, and will be more mature and developed. In 2018, the unit consisted largely of freshman and sophomores that clearly had improvements to make across the board.
Burrow will also be met with the return of a more healthy group of tight ends, including Jamal Pettigrew, Thaddeus Moss and T.K. McClendon. LSU is also shaping up to have a solid ground game in 2019, with a returning Clyde Edwards-Helaire and signees John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price.
The flashes of high-level play Burrow has shown in just one season and overall reliability and consistency he provides at the quarterback position are enough to set him apart from the lackluster showings seen from many LSU quarterbacks in recent history.
In 2018, the graduate transfer set or tied a long list of school records. Practically all that’s left for him to do at this point to top his current accomplishments is bring a National Championship to Baton Rouge.
Just to highlight a few, Burrow became the first player in LSU history to throw for 2,500 yards and rush for at least 350 yards in a season, threatened to surpass the single-game touchdown record of Zach Mettenberger (5) with four touchdowns against UCF, set an LSU record accounting for six scores against A&M (3 rushing, 3 passing), had more carries in a game (29) than any LSU quarterback since 1943.
He also set LSU single-season records for number of passing attempts (399), passes thrown without an interception (158), and total plays (507).
He tied single-season school records for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (7), and ranks No. 2 in LSU history in total yards in a season with 3,292.
But it’s not just about what Burrow has done on the field, though.
His leadership qualities and ability to command the respect of his teammates make him that much better, in addition to the fact he spends practically all of his spare time in the film room looking for ways to improve.
It’s easy to see Burrow has quite a bit going for him, and the supporting cast to turn the corner and do something special in 2019.
Whether or not he can continue to build on his successes will determine his potential future in the pros, and how bold of a mark he’ll leave on LSU by 2020.