The past 2 years have been tough for the LSU Tigers.
After their immense 2019 season, the Tigers lost 18 players to the NFL. Since then they’ve looked depleted and out of their depth against some of the stronger rosters in the SEC.
The hole left by Joe Burrow was noticeable, and the team looked lost during 2020’s spring practice, but it was time for Myles Brennan to take over the starting job. The four star recruit and Mississippi native was ready to take his place under centre, two years and a national championship after his arrival in Baton Rouge.
In week one of the covid hampered 2020 season Brennan tried to carry a Bo Pelini led defence as he slung 345 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-34 to Mississippi State. Week two saw a bounceback, as LSU sent Vandy packing with a 41-7 rout in which Brennan put up 337 yards and four touchdowns. Another great showing, the team was back on track…until a week later where, despite a record setting 430 yards and four touchdowns from Brennan, Mizzou came out 45-43 winners and LSU’s new starter got hurt. Badly.
Late in the Mizzou game Brennan suffered what can only be described as a torn abdomen. It was an injury so unique that the doctors who treated him said they’d have named the procedure after him if he’d undergone surgery. Instead, the first year starter opted to heal naturally as TJ Finley (now the starting QB at Auburn) and Max Johnson (now at Texas A&M) took over starting duties for the rest of the year, leading LSU to a 5-5 record.
Moving forward to 2021, a healthy Brennan was ready to take back the starting job. TJ Finley had transferred to Auburn and Garrett Nussmeier was added to a talented QB room already containing Brennan and Johnson.
The future was bright and the stage was set for Brennan to make his mark…until he caught his flip flop while carrying fishing gear and the resulting fall broke his arm. He went on to miss the entire 2021 season because of this freak injury.
During this time LSU suffered another poor start to the season, this led to major change, Ed Oregeron was fired and the Tigers found themselves looking for a new coaching staff. This change saw Brennan enter the transfer portal for the first time in his career, and it seemed like he’d never suit up for LSU again.
However, LSU hired former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly who convinced Brennan to stay, leading to the current issue the Tigers find themselves with. Kelly not only convinced incoming 5 star Walker Howard to honour his commitment, he also added Arizona State star Jayden Daniels to the QB room. This became crowded quickly.
Daniels played two full years as a starter at Arizona State (2020 was cut short due to the pandemic) with his best year being his 2019 freshman campaign where he threw for 2,943 yards, 17 touchdowns and two picks while adding 355 yards and three scores on the ground. He regressed slightly in 2021 throwing for 2,380 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 picks but this time adding 710 ground yards and six scores. As a dual threat, Daniels has amazing traits and is a top level athlete but his regression as a passer at ASU could limit the role he plays in this LSU offence. He finished the spring game 3-9 with 68 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.
Garrett Nussmeier is the wildcard. He was the most impressive QB on the team during the LSU spring practice and even while missing the nation’s best receiver in Kayshon Boutte, he still lit the field up and looked comfortable doing so under relentless pressure from the suffocating D-Line that the Tigers have put together.
Nussmeier has only started 1 game for LSU, a losing effort against Arkansas which saw him throw for 179 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 picks. Those numbers aren’t great, but with a new Head Coach and an exceptional Spring they can be forgotten. There’s surely not much doubt that he’s been putting in extra work with his father, the Dallas Cowboys QB coach, in an effort to improve his game. At this point, it looks like the former four star has a chance at the starting gig.
That being said, there is no named starter at present. Kelly’s bias towards veterans would suggest Daniels and Brennan might get the nod, but the youngsters clearly have upside as well. Nussmeier has a cannon arm allowing for LSU’s star wideouts to make more explosive plays downfield and Walker Howard is the biggest QB recruit LSU has ever bagged, and he arrives with his favourite target from high school, Jach Bech.
Therefore, LSU is currently suffering from the same problem Ohio State had last season, too much QB talent. We saw Quinn Ewers transfer out due to the emergence of CJ Stroud, and there’s little doubt that LSU will lose at least one of their guys once a starter is named. Fans will have their fingers crossed that Howard stays as a future pairing with Bech could create the most explosive CFB duo since Burrow and Chase back in 2019.
By Kieran Patterson – @KieranHorneCFB