Trio of QBs shine versus Miss. State

There is a saying in football that if you have two quarterbacks, in all actuality you don't have any.

The theory behind that is that having two talented quarterbacks on the roster creates uncertainty and controversy, two attributes that are equally detrimental to team success.


The Mississippi State Bulldogs might disagree with that notion though, after LSU signal callers Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell carved them up to the tune of 240 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 51-0 win in Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon.


"(Head coach Nick Saban) came out early and said we needed to be challenged, we weren't playing hungry anymore," said Randall. "He used the word nonchalant. We picked it up in practice Thursday, and it carried over into the game."


For Randall especially, the blowout win was sweet. The fifth-year senior from Baton Rouge had come under fire for his performances in 2004, and wanted a strong showing to silence his more vocal critics – especially since the cries to have Russell replace him as starter intensified following LSU's one-point loss to No. 13 Auburn, despite Randall leading the purple and gold to its only touchdown on the game's opening drive.


If you're a real competitor, all you want to do is come back out and play again," Randall said. "You want to come back out and prove you learned from your mistakes last week, and just be hungry."


Randall proved that and more against the Bulldogs, as he was a perfect 7-of-7 for 103 yards in his fourth straight start. For the third week in a row, LSU found the end zone on its opening drive, as Randall marched the team 74 yards downfield in seven plays, and the former Glen Oaks High School standout completed passes of 18 yards and 19 yards to Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis respectively.


"The third play of the game, when Coach (Fisher) called the bootleg, I rolled out and hit Dwayne Bowe, and that started to fire up our offense.


"I like to get moving and get the blood going. Roll out, bootleg, it doesn't matter, I just like to get my legs moving."


Randall was replaced by Russell early in the second quarter, by which time the Tigers were already holding a 27-0 lead following three Alley Broussard rushing touchdowns, and one Marcus Spears interception returned for a score.


"Coach challenged us to do something, and we went out there and played," Russell said. "I think we did a good job of reacting to the way coach wanted things. I think we did a pretty good job."


Russell shone again coming off the bench for LSU, completing 9-of-12 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown, while also picking up 26 yards and a touchdown on the ground with an eight-yard scamper in the third quarter that put the purple and gold ahead 41-0.


"Once Marcus came to the sideline, I asked him how he felt out there and how things were going, and once he told me I felt like I was already in a groove before I went out there," Russell said. "He did a good job of explaining things and telling me how things went, and once I got out there I felt good.


"I asked him what looks they gave on such-and-such plays, so once I got in I knew what to look for."


Russell's performance earned praise from the coaches, and also from Randall himself, who has been following the redshirt freshman's performance with a keen eye since the season kicked off on September 4.


"I've seen each and every game when he's gone out there he's gotten more and more poised," said Randall. "He's better at running the offense and the huddle, it's a whole lot of things. Compare it to the first game, and the game's slowing down for him now, he's picking up reads and making good progress."


Despite the outstanding performance from the young quarterback, it is likely that Randall will start again when the Tigers travel to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. Despite arriving at LSU more than a year ago as the nation's fourth-highest rated passer, Russell is content to come off the bench an provide backup to Randall, and knows that it is Saban who has the ultimate say in who plays and who holds the clipboard on the sidelines.


"No matter what, coming off the bench or starting, whatever coach tells me I'm going to go with," said Russell. "I'm still going to be here a couple of years, so even though I'm not starting I'm all right right now."


The second of the Tigers' highly-touted redshirt freshman quarterback duo, Matt Flynn, also saw his most substantial playing time of the season in the conference romp, and completed two of the three passes he threw for 87 yards and one touchdown, a 67-yard strike to freshman receiver Xavier Carter, who outran four Bulldog defenders over the last 50 yards for his first score in a purple and gold uniform.


"It felt good for us to come out and play the way we played, we played well," Randall said. "It was a confidence booster going into next week."

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