BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Les Miles isn't ready to outright abandon the Tigers' two-quarterback system after just one game.
He only accepts that, "right now," sophomore Anthony Jennings is No. 1 in the rotation, having demonstrated he can come through with big plays against a solid Big Ten defense when the Tigers really needed it.
Jennings, Miles said, "Hit the passes he was supposed to hit. Threw it away when he was supposed to throw it away. ... If he continues to play like that, I think that we will have a certain level of excellence at that spot."
Miles kept his promise of playing two QBs in the season opener against Wisconsin in so much as freshman Brandon Harris got in for one series late in the second half on Saturday night. He took three snaps and was sacked on third down, leading to a quick LSU punt.
Jennings, who started the game and struggled early, played the rest of the way, leading the Tigers to 21 unanswered points in a 28-24 comeback victory.
This Saturday, No. 12 LSU meets Sam Houston State of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision.
With LSU being a heavy favorite, the matchup could present an opportunity to refine the passing attack.
It could also mean more playing time for Harris.
Miles said he and Cameron are "not going to predetermine a lack of playing time" for Harris.
"We're going to continue to bring him on," Miles said.
Miles generally won't allow freshmen to talk to reporters during the week of a game, and that was the case Tuesday. However, receiver John Diarse said Harris appears "very pumped about this week, knowing that he has the opportunity to play.
"We expect great things from him, just like we do Anthony, and I think this week is really going to let him know, 'I can do this. I still have a chance.'"
Diarse was on the receiving end of a quick timing pass which he turned into a tackle-slipping, 36-yard touchdown. Jennings' anticipatory throw was "right on the money," Diarse said. Jennings delivered the pass to the very spot where Diarse cut off his route and turned to find the ball nearly upon him.
For Diarse, the throw was an example of why coaches are growing more confident in Jennings, even if he doesn't have quite the height or arm strength of some other QBs on the squad.
"He's just one of those quarterbacks that's just going to get you the ball," Diarse said. "It doesn't have to be the hardest throw or the longest throw."
Jennings attempted only six passes in the second half, but completed four of them for 119 yards and a touchdown. He also completed a pass on a 2-point conversion.
In the first half, LSU's only score came on Jennings' 80-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural, who finished with three catches for 151 yards.
"When we first started you could tell he was nervous. I was nervous," Dural said of Jennings and himself. "A couple of routes, I messed up on, and we missed a couple screens, so that made it look a lot worse than it was.
"But as a whole, he had a good game," Dural continued. "He led us in the right direction and he led us to a victory."
Miles, in complimenting Jennings, also made a point of mentioning that the quarterback did not turn the ball over once.
Dural suggested that Jennings' progression during the game will embolden Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to put more passing into offensive game plans going forward.
"The coaches are gaining confidence in him and the receivers to where they're going to expand it and let us run more route combinations," Dural said. "They're going to have that confidence in us where they're going to actually want to take shots and not have to hold it back and only do it when they have to."
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Posted on Wed, September 3, 2014
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer