Matt Mauck versus Marcus Randall. Randall versus Jamarcus Russell. Russell versus Matt Flynn. Jarrett Lee versus Jordan Jefferson.
Anyone who’s grown up following LSU football knows that quarterback controversies are a grand tradition, and 2014 is no exception.
Freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings’s competition for the starting quarterback position has been a hot topic since spring football ended. Fans seem convinced Miles’s decision will dramatically impact the season to come.
The truth is Miles’s decision probably won’t come until after the Wisconsin game. It’s an unorthodox style, but one LSU has gotten used to and succeeded with
Miles will always keep decisions and plans internal as long as possible, and it’s not because he has a disdain for the media. He wants to build his team’s cohesiveness, and not revealing secrets on starting positions to the public helps immensely.
The most well-known instance in the Miles era came during the 2010-2011 seasons between Lee and Jefferson. For two seasons, the two quarterbacks would switch as starters between weeks and sometimes during games.
Most fans weren’t happy with unusual style and would beg week after week for Miles to stick with a quarterback and system. Miles never wavered, believing both quarterbacks brought abilities to the game essential to success.
The method paid off and the teams went 23-3 in the two-year span, with two of those three losses coming against the national champions of that season. Those two seasons also included a Southeastern Conference championship, a Cotton Bowl victory and a 2-1 record against Alabama.
There are many similarities between those seasons and the two quarterbacks this season. Jennings, like Jefferson, is the quarterback with more experience and usually throws at a short to intermediate range. Harris, like Lee, is more of a deep ball threat that can be used in late-game situations.
The teams’ DNA from the two seasons and today are comparable, with a loaded offensive line and a talent at nearly every facet on defense. The quarterbacks have limited experience beyond spring and fall camp, so the play of the rest of their team will be crucial in quarterback development.
Perhaps the most important thing is the team’s mindset that anyone can step and be the star of a game. Senior running back Terrance Magee said the offense knows both Jennings and Harris have the ability to make plays, and they trust whoever comes in each game.
“As an offense we are really comfortable with whatever quarterback who comes in,” Magee said. “To be honest it does not really matter who they put in, both of them are going to make exceptional plays. God forbid one of them gets hurt, I’m sure the next guy is going to step up and make big plays as well.”
This philosophy goes back to Miles’s ability to keep the team together. If LSU is going to play the entire season with the quarterback position in the air, they need internal structure so that nobody resorts to choosing sides.
So keep down the chatter of who might start this season and prepare yourself for the inevitable. Les Miles is sticking to his own plan, and if history has shown us anything, it will somehow work.