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By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Is there a QB Controversy at LSU?
Coach Ed Orgeron brushed that notion aside when he said "Myles Brennan will be the starter when he returns from injury"....but LSU fans aren't convinced.
Following the 52-24 blowout of South Carolina, T.J Finley has gone from program freshman to the program's future in one opening drive.
Tiger fans loved the possession dominance, the play-calling rhythm between Ensminger and Finley, they adored T.J's passing precision (17/21 for 265 yards and 2 TDs) and the offensive line's resurgence supplying 276 rushing yards....but does a victory over South Carolina really promote Finley above Myles Brennan?
Ask yourself this question:
With Myles Brennan fully healthy and available vs South Carolina (as well as Cam Wire and Ed Ingram starting together for the first time since Vandy), would the score have been the same, if not higher??
Toss that aside, the real lurking questions have to be:
Would Brennan's presence improve LSU's 3rd down efficiency (Myles was 9/40, T.J 5/7)???
If Brennan plays last Saturday, will LSU rush for 276 yards?
If Myles starts, do we control possession as much as we did with T.J (handing our defense time to adjust)??
Would Myles' lack of rushing threat afford South Carolina easier blitz opportunities equaling big hits on Brennan?
Who gives us the best chance to beat Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, A&M...that is the biggest question...
Those are the questions Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger, analyst Russ Callaway and Coach Ed Orgeron must ask and answer before Myles returns.
More than pure on-field optics, how would it be viewed if Brennan waited 3 years to start, refused to transfer, broke records as the only LSU QB to toss 1,112 yards and 11 TDs across his first three starts (while throwing for 432 yards after suffering a vicious injury to his abdominal area) only for Orgeron to rip the job away after one start from Finley?
I don't think you can do that to Myles or his family without having to navigate a significantly rough public relations campaign when talking to future recruits and their parents.
It says "We don't reward loyalty at LSU" and I don't think you can bench Myles until he costs the team a football game...he's earned the right to lose the starting job.
My biggest issue?
The fact that it was an unspoken non-secret that 2020 would be Myles' year to start without a summer quarterback battle. Coach Orgeron compared Myles' situation to Joe this off-season when he said "just like Joe, Myles has waited and now this is his two year shot"....however even Joe had to beat Myles two summers in a row.
Ensminger uttered the same phrases and added "Myles has a better arm than Joe...."
For all intents and purposes, Myles Brennan was starting this season at LSU. Not only were coaches and teammates eager to find out what Myles was made of, every Tigers fan was watching his every move.
Such was the curiosity of Brennan's struggle to get to this point as an LSU starter, we all forgot there should've been a proper quarterback battle during the summer....
After Finley's overwhelming confidence and display of command vs South Carolina, the same reactionary fans wanting to fire Pelini and Corey Raymond also want to bench Brennan.
I'm sorry....but either way you look at this, the sample sizes are too small for both quarterbacks to definitively say "that's the guy!" especially when you consider the fact we haven't even seen Myles Brennan face a top 25 opponent yet, let alone an SEC rival in the top 10.
For coaches, the decision will come down to Myles' health and how well he can throw the football during practices this week.
For fans, the choice rests with who you personally believe can win LSU football games and your own opinions on how Orgeron's Tigers should play football.
Under Myles, there'll be much more shotgun, far less of a rushing threat from the quarterback position, but a more seasoned arm and experience with Ensminger's offense.
If Finley is your man, you're trusting his ability to gut out victories through the air while using his legs as an anchor around the opposing defense's neck....you're saying "Finley isn't just my guy for 2020....he's my guy for the next three years."
Just like Myles, once you hand T.J the keys, it would be just as wrong to strip the job from him given his bright future and mentality.
This is why Orgeron must simply let Brennan's health dictate the QB situation.
If Myles is healthy, he starts.
Finley knows he's the future, he demonstrated that vs South Carolina, however this was never his job to take away.
Due to their preseason proclamations of Brennan (many turning out to be true), Orgeron seems beholden to that promise...with the eyes of the college football world (and the Brennan family) upon the 4x National Champion, many are asking "Will he bench experience and statistical overload for Finley's efficiency? Has Myles Brennan been given the same offensive line set up to be efficient, too?? Are we trading Myles' arm for T.J's legs???"
Wherever you may fall on the Myles / T.J debate, the Tigers are now in a sticky situation where the personal preference of experience & entitlement or the blinding potential of youth may come into play above wins or losses.
Without being a true QB Controversy, whether they like it or not, Orgeron's Tigers have something resembling one on their hands...whatever choice Orgeron could make will ruffle some feathers, but Coach O is doing the right thing here.
Finley will likely start vs Auburn and he'll probably be successful....though would it be smart for LSU to throw a just-recovered Myles Brennan into the fray vs Alabama?
There defense is soft, nowhere near what they used to be, but they're going to hit Myles harder than Missouri...
Either way you look at it, Orgeron has fantastic options at quarterback now, with potentially the two best freshmen quarterbacks in the country backing up the SEC's top 2 starting QB, and another two on their way....
At least LSU's evolution as a powerhouse quarterback school isn't up for debate...
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
SHOUTOUTS: Baton Rouge PD for catching the culprit of the bathroom beating at the South Carolina game. You should be locked away and the key thrown down a well.