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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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LSU opens preseason practice with continued QB uncertainty

LSU opens preseason practice with continued QB uncertainty

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The competition for the starting quarterback's job at LSU started Thursday with Brandon Harris taking the first snap.

Coach Les Miles said he won't rush a decision on whether Harris, a sophomore, or Anthony Jennings, a junior who started most of last season, leads the offense in the Sept. 5 opener against McNeese State.

Harris was able to get in more summer workouts with teammates because Jennings was temporarily suspended.

"I am not certain how much ground he made up on Anthony," Miles said. "That is something we will have to see. We will evaluate them when we are in camp."

Last season, the Tigers finished 8-5 overall and 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference, marking their worst campaign since 2008.

Jennings saw the most playing time in all but two games — New Mexico State and Auburn. Harris hardly played after completing only 3 of 14 passes for 58 yards in a 41-7 loss at Auburn. For the year, the two quarterbacks completed just 50 percent of their passes combined. LSU threw for just 163 yards per game.

Miles opened up the job in spring practice, but neither Jennings nor Harris seized control. Jennings was later suspended for six weeks following an arrest for unlawful entry, but he was reinstated when the district attorney decided not to file charges at the request of the student who lived in the campus apartment at the center of the case.

"I have no expectations as to where Anthony is after missing time. We will see when we see him at practice," Miles said. "We'll see who the best quarterback is and make a decision. It will be all about what's happening on the practice field."

Counting Jennings, the Tigers return eight starters on offense. Every receiver from last season is back and Leonard Fournette is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate after rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman.

Travin Dural, the top returning receiver with 37 catches for 758 yards and seven TDs, is looking forward to the Tigers' quarterback race.

"As a receiver, I like a quarterback competition," Dural said. "Each guy is going to give his best every play because he is trying to win the job. He does not want to mess up one time. He wants to make himself look good.

"I don't think Brandon made a mistake all day," Dural added. "Brandon's maturity is better. He's grown. He has gone from thinking every throw has to be an 80-yard touchdown to settling for check-downs. Anthony didn't make mistakes, either. You would never have known that he was gone for two (nearly) months."

Miles doesn't want Jennings and Harris to have to field daily questions about their QB competition, so he has placed both off-limits to the media. Also, practice will be closed to the media beginning next Tuesday.

Senior offensive tackle Vadal Alexander said he and his teammates can't allow the quarterback race to become a distraction.

"I am worried about doing my job," Alexander said. "As long as they have time to pass the ball, that's good. Both can throw the ball. Both are hard-working guys. Both are better at taking control of the offense. This is going to be an interesting fight."

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