Brandon Harris nearly pulled off the impossible Saturday in a 34-29 loss to Mississippi State.
He tossed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes, cutting what was once a 24-point deficit to only five. Though the Tigers had essentially been dominated throughout the game, Harris’ effort provided a brief glimmer of hope for the few remaining fans still in attendance.
His Hail Mary as time expired failed to connect though, and the Tigers fell to MSU for the first time in 15 years. But his performance might have given the LSU coaches something to think about.
“He definitely gave a really strong performance when he came in,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “We’re still going to look at the overall body of work, the things we can do with him. But he certainly made a case today that we need to look at him a bit more seriously.”
Harris only appeared on three possessions Saturday, but that small sample size was enough. He came in after Anthony Jennings was “nicked” on a failed two-point conversion that followed LSU’s first of three late touchdowns. Some fans though were clamoring for Harris to come in much earlier.
Jennings didn’t do much Saturday to inspire confidence. He completed 50 percent of his 26 passes for 157 yards. He was also sacked three times, but Miles chalked up his struggles to underperformance by the offensive line.
“The protection is something that makes every quarterback struggle. When you have someone in your face, it’s an issue. For me to say it had been any different at that point, I’m not ready to say that. I felt like we were making the right decisions there.”
But with Jennings sidelined due to injury, Harris took advantage of his opportunity.
His first snap came on the Tigers’ five-yard line. He scrambled for seven yards, then completed a 19-yard pass to Trey Quinn. His next pass found Darrel Williams for a 13-yard gain. He missed John Diarse on the next throw but hit Williams again for 25 more yards.
Then Harris hit Malachi Dupre for a 31-yard touchdown.
That connection proved fruitful one more time, as Harris went straight to Dupre on the next possession. His 30-yard touchdown pass to the former five-star receiver brought the Tigers within just five.
“Brandon made some plays,” said WR Travin Dural. “That’s expected of him. If he was starting, he’d do the same thing. When we called on him, he made big plays.”
Harris took over one last time with LSU needing a miracle. He had 20 seconds to engineer one last scoring drive, starting 80 yards from the endzone.
He completed a pass to Dural for 22 yards, then ran for 12 more to set up the Hail Mary attempt. He heaved it up to no one in particular, but a Bulldog came down with it.
Though his effort might not have produced a win, he at least caught everyone’s attention. He might have also reignited a quarterback battle thought to be dead.
“His performance in the limited pieces we asked him to perform was very positive,” Miles said. “We’re not going to downplay what were really good throws and his ability to move his feet. That we see. We’re going to make the collective decision, and he made a case for himself today.”
Did Brandon Harris make a case to start?
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