With an unusual game format and vanilla play-calling to avoid showing the competition too much, the LSU quarterbacks’ statistics don’t do them justice, but this year’s spring game had a much different feel than the past two.
For the first time in his college career, Brandon Harris completed the spring knowing that he’s the starting quarterback, and his confidence running the offense reflects that.
“I felt so much more comfortable with this scrimmage, even though I didn’t throw a touchdown pass, because we were able to move the ball,” says Harris. “We were able to do some things, and the ball wasn’t just flying out of your hand. You were able to go through progressions and go through reads, and that was my main objective.”
Harris finished the day completing 11 of his 15 passes for 106 yards, but he wasn’t the only one making strides forward. Backups Danny Etling and Justin McMillan played well and showed that the position as a whole is learning.
“The quarterbacks were always throwing for percentages higher than they did a year ago,” says Head Coach Les Miles. “That, to me, is two things. Our receiving core took a responsibility to catch the ball, and that quarterback room is just better.”
It’s no coincidence that the group is better as a whole with Etling, who’s now eligible after sitting out the fall season. His arm strength and knowledge make him an ideal quarterback in offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system.
“Danny coming in with the experience that he has really allows him to learn quicker,” says Miles.
That quick learning allows him to put a little heat on Harris. And in return, Harris understands that he can’t settle now just because he’s on top of the depth chart.
“You're always in quarterback battles regardless of whether they say you're not,” says Harris. “Every position, regardless to what you want to believe, every position on this field is up for grabs. It's so competitive being at a place like this. I feel like I'm in a battle every time I touch the field. I'm competing with myself. I really am. Danny's a great competitor. Justin's a great competitor. I thought they did some great things today.”
Now it’s just a matter of transferring those great things to the real playing field, and there won’t be any cupcakes to get warmed up against. ESPN’s College Gameday and a top 25 match-up against Wisconsin await the Tigers in week one at Lambeau Field.
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