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2019 LSU Football Preview: Quarterbacks

Tigers are on solid ground, we just don’t know how high it is yet.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - LSU v Central Florida Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The transfer of Joe Burrow was a game-changer for the LSU program for a number of reasons. But the biggest one is that he was a stop-gap measure that allowed Ed Orgeron and his staff to reset the depth chart.

A year later, the overall health and depth at the position is at its best place in a while, with a senior starter, a third-year backup seemingly poised to take over in a year, a 2019 freshman in the pipeline to develop and two talented commitments for the 2020 recruiting class.

It’s an undeniably good situation overall. The question is, will the state of play for the 2019 season takes another step forward.

2019 LSU Quarterbacks

Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
9 Joe Burrow (Jr.) 6-4, 216 219-379 2,894 16 5 57.80% 8.50% 7.6 Gained 587 yards on 93 carries (not counting sacks) and ran for 7 touchdowns.
15 Myles Brennan (So.) 6-4, 193 4-6 65 0 0 66/7% 0% 10.8 Saw action in just one game, redshirted.
8 Peter Parrish (Fr.) 6-1, 190 Four-star recruit.
Returning starter in bold.

Burrow is the man at QB1, and third-year sophomore Myles Brennan is entrenched at No. 2 with freshman Peter Parrish at No. 3.

Burrow’s first season here — his first overall as a starter in college on a team he joined in June — could best be described as aggressively fine. In the beginning, he could be best described as the game-manager archetype. He kept LSU’s offense moving and avoided major mistakes, for the most part, but the numbers were nothing to write home about. But by the end of the season, things started to come together. In the last five games (including the Fiesta Bowl), Burrow completed 63 percent of his throws at 8.7 yards per attempt with 10 touchdowns against two picks, plus three more touchdowns on the ground.

The question is, which half of the season paints the real picture?

There’s no question that Burrow has the intangibles you’d want from a quarterback. He is quite literally the son of a coach. He threw himself into his playbook as a graduate student, and ingratiated himself to his teammates pretty quickly, even jumping in the middle of a pre-game scrum with Miami in the opener. He’s a tough bastard, playing himself to the point of complete exhaustion against Texas A&M and then shrugging off an interception and a dirty hit in the Fiesta Bowl to complete nine of his next 11 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns.

We just need to see more of the tangible portion of the game. Overall, he’s a good decision maker who protects the football. At times, he’s pressed for the big play to the detriment of getting the ball out or breaking from the pocket. He’s a plus runner — something LSU should be able to utilize better this season — but sometimes made questionable reads on option plays. He’s an accurate short passer, although his deep ball is lacking a bit. Although he does back-shoulder deep routes down the sidelines well.

But with another year of development, and an offense that should be geared more towards his strengths and comfort, we should see improvement just in terms of chemistry and timing. I’m not sure he has it in him to break out and be one of the top playmakers in the SEC, but if the rest of his teammates can raise their games, he’ll meet them at a level that should be better than any quarterback we’ve seen since Zach Mettenberger.

If he does have a higher gear? Well, that could be something we haven’t seen in an even longer time.

Behind him, Brennan appears to be The Quarterback Of The Future. He was able to get a redshirt year back in 2018, and had a strong offseason that saw him put on some very obvious weight in the spring. In terms of the actual passing part of the position, Brennan has it down pat. He’s got a fantastic arm and gets the ball where its supposed to go. The question comes down to decision making under live game action, something that’s still a bit of a mystery. Although hopefully, he gets to see more relief time this year building towards taking over the job in 2020.

The freshman Parrish was an intriguing 2019 prospect who came up outside of the elite QB prospect system, but one who worked his way into an offer from LSU and then followed that up with a state-championship senior season. He should be looking at a redshirt year and at least another year of development after that before any of us really find out what he’s got.