It seems like just a few blinks of the eye ago that the Tigers were walking off the field in Raymond James Stadium on New Year's Day, victors over Iowa in the 2014 Outback Bowl.
But, with south Louisiana in the midst of Mardi Gras madness, LSU is set to take to the Ponderosa for the first of 15 spring practices a week from tomorrow on Friday, March 7.
TSD will take a look at every position on both sides of the ball in the coming week, previewing where the Tigers stand and throwing out the biggest storylines. Today we'll turn our attention to the most important position on the field – Quarterback.
Rob Bolden (R-Sr.), Anthony Jennings (So.), Hayden Rettig (R-Fr.)
- Jennings, 6-2, 211, is the only one of this trio with game experience in an LSU uniform and, realistically, the only one with a shot at the starting job. He did after all start the last game the Tigers played in, quarterbacking LSU to a win over Iowa in the bowl game. Jennings' performance in that game was less than stellar, with the true freshman completing just 7-of-19 passes for 82 yards and an interception to go along with four sacks. It was a far cry from the magic Jennings worked to lead LSU back from the dead against Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving, engineering a storybook 99-yard drive for the win after Zach Mettenberger went out with injury. So is Jennings a hero or the next coming of 2010-version Jordan Jefferson? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.
The 6-4, 209-pound Bolden is the best physical specimen of the trio, and now the tallest since 6-7 Stephen Rivers is transferring. He's entering his final season at LSU following a transfer from Penn State, where Bolden threw for 2,045 yards, seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions from 2010-11. Rettig, 6-3, 205, rounds out the returning quarterback group. His collegiate career arc is decidedly different than Jennings, who came in with Rettig in the Class of 2013. Now that LSU has added another top-flight signal caller (see below), Rettig, who is probably closer to 6-1, has a ceiling as an emergency quarterback for the 2014 season.
Brandon Harris (freshman, early enrollee)
- The only quarterback signee in 2014 for LSU, Harris (6-3, 180) is continuing in the footsteps of Jennings and Rettig from a year ago by enrolling early to participate in spring football and begin to digest the offense. A true dual-threat quarterback, Harris has a strong, lively arm and can beat opponents with his legs, even more so than Jennings, who has mobility but is more prone to remain in the pocket. Harris posted the following reported numbers in his senior season at Parkway HS (Bossier City, LA): 178-of-329 passing (54.1%) for 3,172 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions to go with 1,048 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing. LSU's new No. 6, hand-picked and recruited personally by offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron, comes into TigerTown with quite a bit of buzz.
Does the offense begin to evolve some away from LSU's standard formations/staples?
- Look, we all know the real question is: Will Harris or Jennings win the starting quarterback job? The reality is, however, that won't be determined until Fall Camp in August, once the entire team is together and the focus is on Wisconsin. Spring ball is more typically reserved for getting players acclimated to a system, and in that respect, Harris will do just as much, if not more, learning than competing this spring.
So what I'll be most intrigued with at the quarterback position is the scope of what LSU will begin asking its quarterbacks to do now that those guys possess different skill sets than Mettenberger, their predecessor. The Tigers' staff has made it no secret that the offense will take on a slightly different look, if by no other way than through recruiting. LSU is targeting more mobile, athletic quarterbacks as well as H-back and fullback types who can run, catch and do more than just block (see Upchurch, Tony). If there will be at least a partial move toward a more modern collegiate offense, one that involves more designed quarterback runs or options, it would almost have to begin rearing its head this spring. And that, folks, I'll be very interested to see.