BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Which LSU quarterback holds the title of starter is uncertain again.
LSU coach Les Miles, who named Brandon Harris the starter a week ago, now wants to observe Harris and season-opening starter Anthony Jennings in the practices leading up to Saturday's game at Florida before assigning one of them to take the first snaps.
"We'll let them both compete at practice and make a decision later in the week," Miles said Monday. "Both can play better than they played last week."
Harris was productive in relief outings against Mississippi State and New Mexico State, leading the Tigers to touchdowns on nine of ten possessions. So, Harris got the nod at Auburn, but by his own admission, he was awful. He completed three of 14 passes for 58 yards and compared his outing to "a nightmare."
Indeed, with a final score of 41-7, it was LSU's worst loss in 15 years.
Now the Tigers (4-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) are unranked for the first time in six seasons and head into the Swamp looking to avoid their first 0-3 start in league play for the first time since 1999 — the season before Nick Saban arrived in Baton Rouge.
"We are disappointed in how we played," Miles said. Coaches "met all day Sunday to come up with a plan on how we are going to go about improvement. There is a lot of football to play. There is a need for the guys to understand the direction we're going in."
Miles has indicated that LSU's direction at quarterback would require contributions from both Jennings and Harris until one QB demonstrates clearly that he gives the Tigers a greater advantage. That hasn't happened.
Jennings, a sophomore who started the first five games, turned the ball over three times against New Mexico State two Saturday's ago before being pulled in favor of Harris, a freshman, in the second quarter.
Harris, who sprained an ankle late in the first half against Auburn, was then replaced by Jennings in the third quarter of that game. Jennings was 5-of-10 for 84 yards, but LSU failed to score with him at quarterback. Miles said Harris was healthy enough to practice Monday.
The offense has struggled in the losses to SEC West foes Mississippi State and Auburn. LSU trailed Mississippi State 31-10 through three quarters, at which point the Tigers' lone TD had been scored by the defense on a fumble return. After three quarters at Auburn, LSU trailed 34-7.
Meanwhile, LSU's defense has been porous in those two defeats. Mississippi State gained 570 yards, while Auburn gained 566. Quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Nick Marshall each passed for more than 200 yards and each ran for more than 100 yards.
Miles believes an improved offense will help the defense.
"The reality is we have to get the offense to move the ball," Miles said. "The defense is giving quality effort. We have quality personnel here. If the offense gets on fire, the defense will click right in.
"The offensive and defensive lines played so much better last week. There are other pieces to attack now. If we do that, we can play best next Saturday," Miles said. "We haven't done that yet."
In Miles' previous nine seasons at LSU, his teams have had only one losing SEC record — 3-5 in 2008. The Tigers may be hard pressed to do even that well in the SEC this season. Remaining SEC opponents at home are No. 3 Mississippi, No. 7 Alabama and unranked Kentucky, while remaining road opponents include No. 14 Texas A&M and unranked Arkansas.
With such gloomy prospects, LSU fans are unleashing criticism of the Miles regime over the airwaves and online, but the coach doesn't sound too worried about that.
"I don't read the papers," Miles said. "I don't listen to talk radio. I do that on purpose. I don't worry about the perimeter. ... The perimeter has overtaken a lot of great coaches. It will never overcome my approach.
"We have great kids. They will stay the course," Miles continued. "No one enjoyed that plane ride Saturday night or those last 48 hours. It's a mend, a fix and a work-hard. That will happen."
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Posted on Tue, October 7, 2014
by Bryan Lazare, Associated Press