SEC Country is examining each LSU position group following the Tigers’ spring as we await the start of fall camp.
Tuesday’s breakdown features LSU’s 2016 collection of quarterbacks.
You should already know: Brandon Harris, Danny Etling
Analysis: LSU’s quarterback “competition” was, not surprisingly, won by Harris, who is preparing for his third year with the team and his second as the unquestioned starter.
Harris has arguably the most talented group of weapons in the SEC surrounding him, including veterans and highly skilled newcomers in the receiving corps and a Heisman Trophy hopeful behind him at running back.
More importantly, this spring was nothing new to Harris, who is now one of the more experienced players on the offensive side of the ball.
“Oftentimes, we were young in a lot of places,” Harris told SEC Country last month. “Now those pieces are starting to play together. Everyone is on the same page. … Everyone is starting to play together. We have camaraderie in the group. During the scrimmage, it was good to see our young guys now talking. Last year they were true freshmen, and now they’re acting like veterans.”
During LSU’s spring game, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called 36 pass plays and 36 run plays, showing off the newly emphasized aerial attack while also keeping things balanced.
More important than the statistics yielded from the contest was the leadership Harris displayed, both in the game and throughout the entire spring.
Everyone on the team has taken notice, including running back Leonard Fournette.
“Brandon did a tremendous job,” Fournette told SEC Country. “He’s still the one helping out the whole offense. He’s breaking down the defense. When we come in, he’s already watching the film. That’s the main thing to start to understand. He’s doing a tremendous job.”
Fournette’s backing of Harris was seconded only to that of coach Les Miles.
The Mad Hatter is well aware of the potential of this year’s squad, and realizes that Harris is one of the driving forces.
The strides the quarterback has made gives Miles even more confidence in LSU’s ceiling in 2016.
“When you got a guy that can throw and whistle it in there pretty good and has the ability to move his feet and extend plays and run and score, those are the pieces you just have to have for a big-time team,” Miles said after the spring game.
Key question: Can Harris really make the leap to elite quarterback this season? Opposing defenses are going to crowd the line of scrimmage in an effort to slow down Fournette. LSU is going to try and emphasize the passing game and utilize more spread principles, but Harris needs to be able to execute. He has the weapons in receivers like Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, but performing well on a consistent basis will be the major task.
Bottom line: Harris is the starter … no questions asked. But he’ll have to perform at a certain level in order for LSU to meet or even exceed expectations this season. If not, expect his backup, Etling, to see action under center. The Tigers are considered one of the favorites to emerge from the SEC, and any early quarterback trouble could certainly cause tension.