QUESTION: What should LSU do at the quarterback position?
Ben Love: In the immediate future I believe the LSU staff should allow Brandon Harris the opportunity to start the New Mexico State game. It’s time he takes in what it’s like to lead an offense as the starter throughout a week of practice, on game day and then on the field when it matters most. Hard to show what you can do in a “quarterback battle” when you’re constantly playing second fiddle. Give the kid a little responsibility and some confidence, and you never know what could happen. Now, with that said, I believe Anthony Jennings should still be a part of Saturday’s game plan, coming in perhaps as early as the third or fourth drive and then the two could split time in the second half.
It’s more difficult to forecast for the long-term this season because so much depends on how Harris responds to increased playing time and more weight on his shoulders. But ideally I have to think it would be desirable to gradually get Harris to the field more and more each week to the point where he’s the unquestioned starter by season’s end and Jennings is the one playing intermittently. According to everything we’ve heard, even from Les Miles, that’s where their various skill sets and talent levels should leave them. And, frankly, I think Harris fits more of what this offense needs in a spread look. So if the freshman comes along enough on the mental side of things, that’s what you’d like to see.
Now there is one seemingly external factor in this QB competition that the staff can’t ignore entirely. A move completely to Harris – and away from Jennings – would send the latter a fairly definitive message about how his future would look the next few seasons at LSU. That would send the Tigers, who are already paper-thin at quarterback, into transfer panic mode. While I believe Miles and Cam Cameron will always try to play the guys who give them the best chance to win, that’s a distinct possibility and it’s part of the reason I believe Jennings should stay in the mix. Plus, he has shown in several instances a certain coolness that I believe will come in handy again in a big ballgame before the season is over.
Hunter Paniagua: What LSU should do at the quarterback position is probably different from what LSU will do at the quarterback position. What LSU should do is turn over the offense to Brandon Harris. Les Miles and Cam Cameron have praised Harris as a second-coming since the moment they could speak publicly about him. Miles has even admitted Harris is the more talented quarterback compared to Anthony Jennings, so now it's time to let him prove it.
The problem is that Jennings hasn't exactly done anything to lose the job — he just hasn't done anything to win it. Miles has several times called Jennings a "game manager." That can work on a team like 2011 with a strong run game and a defense that can create points. This team doesn't have that. This team needs a quarterback that can make plays, that can test secondaries deep and keep them honest with his legs. No knock on Jennings, he just doesn't seem to have the dynamism that Harris can bring to the position.
Sure there will be some bumps along the way. Harris will probably make some boneheaded decisions, but what is there to lose at this point? Give Harris an opportunity to start. Let him spend the week knowing he'll take the first snap and go from there. Harris thrives on his confidence, and giving him the quarterback position will help his development. You don't want to close the door so soon on Jennings, but if through four games he hasn't separated himself from Harris, then it's time to let the freshman have a try at it.