NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Take One: Pocket Presence
It was the most striking difference between both quarterbacks Saturday. K.J. Costello looked like a seasoned vet in the pocket. Myles Brennan looked like a player finding his footing through his first collegiate start.
All of Brennan’s issues can be traced back to one thing: pocket presence.
Brennan still has to develop that innate sense and feel in the pocket to know when to get rid of the ball, when to be patient and let a concept develop, when to climb the pocket and connect over the middle and when to escape and scramble.
It’s not easy and won’t happen overnight. But Brennan will get better pocket presence with more seasoning and repetition.
A few examples:
12:00 first quarter- Brennan has room to climb the pocket on third and three but bailed after feeling edge pressure and eventually runs for one yard.
3:50 first quarter- Brennan hesitates on a slant to Koy Moore and eventually bails out of the pocket to throw it away. It would have been a tight window throw with the State linebacker trying to undercut the slant but one that could have been completed had he stuck with the throw instead of pulling back.
:40 second quarter- Mississippi State only rushed three. But Brennan bailed out of the pocket only to eventually run for four yards. On that play, he needs to read eight in coverage and go to the check down and quickly get to the next play.
Take Two: What worked best
Midway through the second quarter, Brennan connected with Jaray Jenkins on a deep post for a 46-yard gain to set up LSU’s first offensive touchdown.
Early in the third quarter, Brennan hit Jenkins again on a dig route for 20 yards.
Later in the third quarter, Brennan connected with Terrance Marshall for a 37-yard touchdown on a deep post.
In the fourth quarter, he found Marshall again on a go route down the sideline for a touchdown.
All of those plays had one thing in common: Play action.
This is going to have to be a big part of the Tigers offense this season. It’s where Brennan is comfortable. They nearly had another big play off play action when Brennan attempted to throw to Racey McMath, who was wide open on a double move, but Brennan’s arm was hit as he threw it and the pass was picked off.
Take Three: Accuracy
This was encouraging to me. Despite all the other issues, one thing that can’t be denied is Brennan has natural accuracy. It’s not perfect but more often than not, when he throws it he hits the target. The only real big miss that he had due to inaccuracy was the post to Jenkins where he was short on the throw.
The throw that stands out was his connection to McMath on a slant. Brennan put it on his back shoulder which allowed McMath to turn and run with it for a big gain.
Accuracy is the most important trait a quarterback can have in this offense. Brennan doesn’t always need a huge window to throw the ball.
Take Four: Missed opportunities
Brennan had three big misses Saturday.
Late in the first quarter, Brennan was indecisive and missed Jenkins on a slant and go in the middle of the field that could have been a touchdown.
At around the 12-minute mark of the third period, with ample protection, Brennan missed Arik Gilbert on an over/skinny post route in the end zone. He eventually threw it to him but was way too late on the throw that was knocked down by the defender.
In the fourth quarter, right after LSU recovered the fumble down 34-31 on third and seven, Brennan attempted to climb the pocket but dropped his eyes and took a sack. Had he navigated the pocket and kept his eyes up, he would have had Marshall on the shallow cross or Jenkins on the dig at the second level. Both would have continued the drive.
Take Five: Final Analysis
Brennan was not the biggest reason LSU lost Saturday. His performance was far from perfect but generally speaking, when an LSU quarterback throws for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, the Tigers win the game.
When watching Brennan, the immediate comparison for me was 2012 Zach Mettenberger. It’s not the same offense and Brennan moves a little bit better. But that season, it took Mettenberger some time for him in his first year starting to truly develop that pocket awareness.
However, the calls to bench him already are utterly ridiculous. One could make the case that his first career start was better than Joe Burrow’s and Mettenberger’s respective debuts.
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