In peril without Perrilloux?

The LSU Tigers may be in the process of completing the strangest quarterback transition in the history of college football.

Now that talented but lame-brained Ryan Perrilloux has been dismissed from the program for yet another "violation of team rules," the QB reins may well fall to junior Andrew Hatch, a transfer from ... get this, Harvard.

Since Hatch was smart enough to get into Harvard and Perrilloux was too dumb to stay out of trouble, the Tigers' offensive IQ appears to be skyrocketing ... but their offensive skill level is plummeting. For all of his problems off the field, Perrilloux was a dynamo on it. He exhibited as much in the SEC Championship Game last December, burning Tennessee for 20 completions in 30 attempts for 243 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers prevailed 21-14.

If Hatch can't latch onto the vacant quarterback job, LSU will be forced to go with redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. He had a good spring game, completing 7 of 13 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Hatch was just as effective, completing 13 of 17 for 184 yards and two more TDs.

Head coach Les Miles said afterward that he was "comfortable" with both quarterbacks. You have to wonder if he's still comfortable now that one of them will be the running the offense this fall, instead of merely signalling in plays from the sideline.

Whether Hatch or Lee succeeds Perrilloux, the new QB will be surrounded by some first-rate weapons. Keiland Williams has starting experience at tailback but he's being pushed by sophomore Richard Murphy. The latter ran for 145 yards on just 11 carries in LSU's spring game, exhibiting some explosiveness with a 70-yard ramble and a 53-yard catch/run.

In addition, Demetrius Byrd appears ready to join the Tigers' recent line of superstar receivers (Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucet to name a few). Byrd averaged 33 yards per catch in the spring game (four grabs, 132 yards) with big-play receptions of 60 and 57 yards. Brandon LaFell is almost as good as Byrd, so LSU could have the SEC's best 1-2 punch at wideout this fall.

Despite the loss of superstar tackle Glenn Dorsey, LSU's defense should be awesome again. Linemen Al Woods, Ricky-Jean Francois and Marlon Favorite are studs, as is linebacker Darry Beckwith.

Basically, the Tigers are talented enough at 21 positions to compete for another national title. The key is behind center. There is no QB as strong-armed as JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. There is no QB as poised as Matt Flynn, who guided the team to a national title last fall and was a seventh-round pick in the '08 NFL Draft. There is no QB as gifted as Perrilloux.

Bottom line: For all of the anguish he caused Les Miles, Perrilloux caused opposing defensive coordinators even more.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of post-spring SEC football recaps I'll be posting over the next couple of weeks.)


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