BATON ROUGE, La. — Like every crackpot with a column on the Internet, I have a theory. So indulge me, LSU football fans, won’t you?
On Monday night, on the weekly Facebook Live broadcast I do (embedded below), I was asked something along the lines of why LSU has so much trouble developing quarterbacks.
That’s a truly difficult question to answer, mostly because there are so many different factors that go into a quarterback’s development. There’s coaching and there’s the blocking in front of him. There’s strength of competition and the caliber of receivers he’s throwing to. And, of course, there’s natural talent and how it fits into the scheme a quarterback is playing in.
But two factors that aren’t often discussed as major developmental roadblocks are stability and security. And I think that might be the root of LSU’s recent quarterback woes.
Since the end of the Zach Mettenberger era in Baton Rouge, no quarterback has ever been afforded the opportunity to play without the potential of being benched looming large. Anthony Jennings had Brandon Harris. Harris had Danny Etling. And now Etling will have the incoming freshman duo of Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse looking over his shoulder. Not to mention Harris, who might not be going anywhere with a new offensive coordinator to try to impress.
When every mistake a quarterback makes ends in a call for his head, quarterbacks are out there trying too hard not to make mistakes. And any good quarterback will tell you that thinking too hard while you’re in the pocket will get you killed. You have to rely on the confidence that your team has in you and that you have in yourself to make plays. And when every game feels like an audition, there’s no way a player can have that confidence.
Perhaps this stems from LSU’s embarrassment of riches. Or, more accurately, embarrassment of middle-class incomes. Having so many players just about equal to one another in talent and production leads to constant questioning and lends to easy scapegoating. If you know there isn’t going to be a talent drop-off after a quarterback change, why not try to make one to spark a new identity?
If you don’t think Etling is a good quarterback, you’re entitled to that opinion. I disagree and so do the stats (when converted to the NFL formula, Etling had a better 2016 than NFL stars like Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning), but if you expect more from your quarterbacks, that’s a worthy expectation.
Just know that every time your favorite team makes a quarterback change, it signals to every quarterback on the roster that no job is safe. Sure, it drives competition. But it also puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on the signal callers. Is that a worthy tradeoff to you?
LSU football poll results
Well, LSU football fans, you’re nothing if you’re not a supportive bunch.
In Bayou Bengal Briefing on Monday, I asked you your thoughts on Leonard Fournette’s decision to skip the Citrus Bowl and rest up for his NFL future. More than 580 of you responded. Here are your answers:
80 percent of voters supported Fournette in his decision, setting in place a firm majority of LSU football fans who are thankful for Fournette’s contributions to the program but are altruistically happy to see him go.
That said, 15 percent of voters went the other way, calling Fournette selfish for his choice to leave the program before his time was up.
Of the 5 percent of you who selected “other,” rationales ranged from ambivalence (Guice is better anyway) to acknowledgement of Fournette’s reasons (playing through an injury sucks) to general disagreement with the system (The NCAA needs to change its mandatory three-year rule keeping football players in college.).
It’s a hot issue that will only get hotter as more players, like Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, choose the same option as Fournette. Speaking of which …
‘Hard Knock Life’ no more
Fournette signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency on Monday, officially destroying Fournette’s amateur status and severing his ties with the LSU football program, at least on the field.
Fournette caught a little bit of flak from some fans for this decision, especially since it means he won’t be able to be on the sidelines with his teammates during the Citrus Bowl. Perhaps to address some of those dissenters, Fournette sent out a tweet late Monday night explaining his decision.
He makes a pretty good point.
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) December 20, 2016
Arbitrary Analysis, part 2
Given that this is our last week of Bayou Bengal Briefings before Christmas, I’ve decided to use this week to count down my five favorite sitcom Christmas episodes. It’s a long list and a tough countdown, but I’m the man to do it.
On Monday, I unveiled my pick for No. 5. Today, it’s time for No. 4. Be sure to come back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing on Wednesday and all week as I count down toward No. 1.
No. 4: Christmas Special Part 2 — The Office
Caution: Spoilers. And the video has one curse word in it.
Pardon my pretentious nature, but the best Christmas episode of The Office comes from the U.K., not the U.S.
In the final moments of the classic BBC sitcom that preceded the NBC hit, nightmare boss David Brent finally gains the self-respect he so desperately craves and Dawn and Tim end up where they belong: together.
With all the respect in the world to the Benihana Christmas and Yankee Swap episodes of the American Office, no U.S. Christmas episode comes close to replicating the emotion and the humor in this 51-minute conclusion to Ricky Gervais’ cringe opus.
If you haven’t watched The Office U.K. before, you’re really missing out. It’s a great show that surpasses its U.S. counterpart in many ways. Plus, Martin Freeman is great in everything. But if you don’t feel like watching the whole series (it’s only 14 episodes total), at least watch the two-part Christmas Special. You’ll feel things TV doesn’t normally make you feel.
In case you missed it, here are some LSU football articles you should read to stay up to date on the latest happenings in the program:
- LSU secondary coach Corey Raymond reportedly signed a contract extension with a pay raise.
- LSU football recruits told SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman their thoughts on Matt Canada.
- Pro Football Focus ranked the top 10 individual SEC performances of 2016. Derrius Guice, Tre’ White and Jamal Adams all made the list.
- Fournette might not have won a championship or a Heisman, but he leaves a legacy.
- Don’t call Fournette selfish. He’s the ultimate team player.
- Louisville defenders reacted to Fournette’s decision.
- Finally, why did Narcisse re-commit to LSU? Sam has the answers.
Three things: LSU basketball edition
The LSU men’s basketball team defeated Charleston, 75-65, Monday night, but in typical LSU fashion the game was closer than it probably should’ve been. I have some thoughts.
Thing 1: LSU needs bench help. Badly.
Last week against N.C. Central, LSU’s bench only mustered 2 points. Two games later against Charleston, the bench accounted for 7 points. LSU isn’t going to be able to rely on its five starters to win every game on offense, especially once more physical conference games roll around.
Thing 2: LSU has to have either Craig Victor or Duop Reath on the court
It should go without saying, but in the brief period that LSU had neither of its starting forwards on the court, everything broke down. Reserve forwards Wayde Sims and Elbert Robinson III had a cumulative +/- score of -6, compared to Reath and Victor combining for a mark of +27.
Thing 3: LSU is starting to look like a good free throw shooting team
Three days ago, LSU ranked 339th out of 351 Division I teams in free throw percentage. But over the last two games, LSU has shot about 80 percent from the free throw line, including a clutch 14-of-18 performance Monday. In both cases, free throw shooting has been the difference between a win and a loss.
Today in made-up holidays
According to the nice people over at NationalDayCalendar.com, today is “Mudd Day.” No, not “Puddle of Mudd” Day. That would be way worse. Mudd Day. As in the day we remember and honor 19th century doctor Samuel Mudd.
Not sure who Mudd was? Neither was I until 15 minutes ago. But it turns out that Mudd was falsely accused of being a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and ended up being sentenced to life in jail. Heavy, right?
So, on Mudd Day, I guess we’re supposed to highlight people who have been falsely connected to things. I guess. So, I want to talk about LSU football players Ethan Pocic and Will Clapp. Because I feel like their names have been, pardon my pun, dragged through the Mudd a bit this year.
LSU’s offensive line received a lot of the blame for the team’s losses to Alabama and Florida. And in the case of the Alabama game, rightfully so.
But as I’ve pored over the tape a couple of times, I noticed that Pocic and Clapp actually played really well in those two games. Most of the penetration came from the outside, issues connected to LSU’s tackles and tight ends, not interior linemen like Clapp and Pocic.
And as for the Florida game, really no offensive linemen should be blamed. The last play was entirely Guice’s fault, the botched field goal snap was on a play LSU should’ve gone for in the first place and every other play you have to give credit to Florida for making the stop in the first place.
Blaming people is fun, but sometimes you blame people who aren’t at fault. Like Samuel Mudd.
President Andrew Johnson eventually pardoned Mudd and he was released from jail, by the way. So, I officially pardon these men on behalf of the Bayou Bengal Briefing. I know that’s a useless pardon, but hey, I have to exercise whatever fake power I give myself, right?