LSU football: Brandon Harris will be better off at UNC than he was at LSU
Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, in Briefing, we discuss Brandon Harris’ landing spot, recap LSU’s scrimmage on Saturday, check in with LSU’s smaller sports and more. Enjoy!
LSU football no more
Brandon Harris completed his transfer process Sunday, announcing that he’ll be finishing his college football career at North Carolina. And as difficult as it might be for LSU football fans to say, Harris is going to be better off there, too.
I’m not even talking about the obvious “change of scenery” discussion. Sure, that’ll help. Harris leaves the weight of his past mistakes behind in Baton Rouge. Even with a new coaching staff, Harris would always have played with the stigma put upon him after the way 2015 ended and 2016 began.
But beyond that, Harris is jumping into a perfect situation. Not just because there’s a quarterback vacancy in Chapel Hill. But because of the way UNC coach Larry Fedora has treated quarterback vacancies in recent years.
In Fedora’s five years at UNC, he’s had three major starting quarterbacks: Bryn Renner, Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky. All three of whom are drastically different types of quarterbacks.
Renner was a classic “drop back and hand off” quarterback. In 2012, he funneled the offense through future second-round pick Giovani Bernard and managed the offense by keeping turnovers down. UNC won eight games and tied for the best record in the ACC Coastal division despite being on bowl sanctions.
Toward the end of 2013 and in all of ’14 and ’15, Williams took over as a dangerous double-threat QB. In 2015 alone, he threw for 3,072 yards and rushed for 948 more, totaling 41 combined touchdowns. Once again, UNC won the Coastal division, this time winning 11 games.
Then you have Trubisky, who figures to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes in a spread offense, the third-best completion percentage in the Power 5, all the while throwing as many touchdowns as Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
So, how does this favor Harris? Adaptation.
Fedora will mold his offense around whatever quarterback he has. Something, for what it’s worth, that LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has proven himself capable of doing as well. But not to the degree of success Fedora has had. And in a situation where the stakes are lower, since UNC isn’t expected to be much of a great team this year.
Add together all the history and you get yourself a friendly situation for Harris. Now, it’s time for him to prove that he still has all the potential he did out of high school and UNC didn’t just sign a washed-up former star in the making.
Your weekly LSU football poll question
Let’s keep on the Harris theme for our weekly LSU football poll.
How do you think Harris will do at UNC? Does he still have superstar stuff? Is he washed up? Do you even care?
Vote in the poll down below. We’ll discuss your answers in Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.
Create your own user feedback survey
Or, if you’ve read those already, you can read some brief #analysis, three things style:
Thing 1: LSU’s defense is exactly where it should be
Before spring practice began, I predicted LSU’s offense would consistently beat LSU’s defense in spring scrimmages, a take that registered as a 6/10 on the hot-take-o-meter. And that’s been the case. Which isn’t a bad thing.
LSU’s defense is young, inexperienced and still finding its footing. But it’s also a talented bunch filled to the brim with potential playmakers and missing its best player. This spring is about building up the confidence of the team’s younger and less-seasoned players. And growth is the best way to do that. Lose a couple of scrimmages early but show out in the spring game? That’s four months worth of streaky confidence right there that’ll lead the “D” right into fall camp.
Thing 2: You’re probably not going to see much more of Derrius Guice
Guice has a very minor ankle injury. He says he’s fine. And that doesn’t seem like modesty. I saw his ankle up close and personal on Thursday and I couldn’t see a speck of swelling. But LSU still held him out of the scrimmage.
And why even bother bringing him back this spring? He doesn’t need the reps. And he can learn the playbook in the film room without taking the field. You know what you’re going to get from Guice. So, hold him out. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s just extreme precaution.
Thing 3: We still don’t know anything about LSU’s special teams personnel
LSU coach Ed Orgeron hasn’t mentioned anything about how his special teamers are developing this spring. Very little has been made of his kicking game or the return games. It’s assumed Josh Growden will retain the job at punter, but with Colby Delahoussaye and Tre’Davious White leaving, LSU has holes to fill at kicker and punt returner.
In the periods of practice I’m permitted to view as a member of the media, I don’t get to see any special teams work, so I don’t have any extra insight. But I’ll try to ask about this during the week. Because if the Tigers aren’t doing any special teams work right now, that’s a bit of a red flag.
Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports recap
You won’t find a weekend between now and the end of the school year that isn’t packed with LSU sports. So, with that in mind, let’s recap what went on in the world of LSU’s smaller sports over the weekend:
- The LSU baseball team lost two out of three to Florida in Gainesville. For a full recap of the weekend’s events, check back to SECCountry.com/LSU around noon CT for my weekly LSU baseball recap column, “Out of The Box.”
- LSU softball pulled off a three-game sweep against a ranked SEC opponent in the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers won Friday night 4-3, Saturday morning 2-0 and Sunday afternoon 1-0.
- LSU’s beach volleyball team swept the weekend at the Horned Frog Challenge, defeating Arizona, TCU and Arizona State twice. The Tigers rank eighth in the nation in beach volleyball and added three ranked wins over the weekend.
- The women’s tennis team added another conference win to the repertoire, defeating Texas A&M. With the win, LSU now is 5-2 in SEC play and should creep close to the top 10 nationally with wins against three top 20 teams in South Carolina, Auburn and Texas A&M.
- LSU’s soccer team lost to Auburn in a spring exhibition, 1-0.
- Hosting the LSU Tiger Golf Classic, LSU’s women’s golf team finished 12th out of 15 teams with a combined score of 45-over.
- Men’s tennis lost to Texas A&M, 5-2.
Elsewhere in the SEC
The South Carolina Gamecocks are headed to the Final Four.
I know, it sounds weird, doesn’t it?
But it’s true. The seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks made it to the Final Four, ready to face off against No. 1 Gonzaga for a shot at a national championship. And it’s worth noting that South Carolina didn’t completely blow out LSU this season.
Well, it did. But not by LSU standards.
South Carolina beat LSU, 88-63, back on Feb. 1, a 25-point drubbing that was the eighth of LSU’s 15 consecutive losses midseason. And before you scoff and say, “Of course that’s a blowout!,” remember that LSU lost games by 27, 30, 34, 35 and 35 points last season. And sure, the two 35-point losses were to Wichita State and Florida, two of the top 8 teams in the country according to KenPom’s rankings.
But Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Wake Forest? Those are pretty average teams. And LSU played a Final Four team closer than those average teams.
If you’re looking for the saddest consolation in the history of consolation prizes, there it is. Enjoy it.
Tweet of the weekend
Add offensive lineman K.J. Malone to the growing list of LSU football players to tweet at his haters.
— KJ Malone (@Kj63Kj) March 26, 2017
Malone tweeted out that picture Saturday night and earned himself nearly 500 favorites in the process, calling into question exactly who thought his head wasn’t on straight in the first place.
But it’s a nice pledge for LSU football fans to see. Malone has stepped up as one of the leaders on LSU’s offense under the new regime and the Tigers are going to need a big season out of him, especially with Ethan Pocic leaving for the NFL. The fact that he’s 100 percent bought in to the new program is essential for the growth and development of the Tigers’ youthful offensive line.
If you appreciate K.J.’s message, go ahead and add to that favorites count. Or hit him with a retweet. Support your Tigers on Twitter like you do on the gridiron.
Today in made-up holidays
According to the fine folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, Monday is “National Joe Day.” Apparently, we’re supposed to use today to honor the Joes in our lives. And since SEC Country’s own Alex Hickey honored athletic director Joe Alleva pretty well Sunday, I’ll take it a different way.
The following is a list of every person named Joe, Joseph, Josephine or any name that can be abbreviated to Joe or Jo on all of LSU’s sports teams. No, really. I went through every roster.
Give these people a shout today. It’s their day, after all.
- Josef Schuster, men’s cross country/track and field
- Joao Mescolote, men’s swimming
- Joana Valle Costa, women’s tennis
And that’s it. Really. Joes aren’t as average as they seem. So, if you have time, find these people and honor them Monday. It’s your duty as a reader of the Bayou Bengal Briefing.
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