On The Record: LSU QB Myles Brennan on challenging freshman season, on-going QB battle in Q&A
The speed of the game was faster.
The windows in which to throw were smaller.
Myles Brennan’s introduction to college football last year included a great many hurdles. Don’t forget about learning Matt Canada’s motion-filled offense or competing in a raging camp competition with incumbent starter Danny Etling.
“Felt like I’ve learned a lot,” Brennan said Tuesday in his first media appearance since enrolling last June. “The coaching staff has done a great job of putting the information into our hands and it’s just upon us to go out and learn it. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable, playing a few games in Tiger Stadium at this level.
“I can take a deep breath and relax. I’m getting better every day and excited for this year.”
Brennan is embroiled again in a hotly competitive battle for the starting job eight months after completing the one with Etling. He spoke about several topics during more than 20 minutes with reporters ahead of Tuesday’s practice.
He talked about LSU’s new offense under coordinator Steve Ensminger and how it compares to the one he ran in high school. He discussed the biggest lessons he learned last season – like that game speed and those tight windows – and how he’s “buddies” with Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillan in this “close” competition.
He and Danny Etling, he said, have a great relationship, something that helped him improve throughout his rookie year. And he’s still working on adding about 15 pounds to his 195-pound frame, eating six to seven calorie-packed meals a day.
A full Q&A:
Last summer, coach Ed Orgeron said you started out slow upon arriving and he said you started spring slow, too. How have you improved after those early struggles and why did you have them?
Trying to learn a new offense. When I first got here, that’s the first time I had been around a college offense, learning Coach (Matt) Canada’s offense. Once I got the hang of it, it was all right. In spring, we had to re-install a new offense. It takes a lot of studying and preparation, but I feel like I’m doing well.
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How different is this offense to learn in terms of what it asks the quarterback to do?
It’s not much different. As a quarterback, you have to know everything. You have to know the routes, protections, where the blitzes are coming from, the coverages. You have to put the old offense away.
How is the terminology different?
It did change in the fact that we’re taking out the motions and shifts. Other than that, it’s an offense that Coach O can explain.
Does help running something similar that you did in high school?
It is. I feel more comfortable. I feel like it fits my style a little better. Excited to see where it goes.
What’s the biggest lessons you learned from last season?
Definitely the speed of the game changes a lot. In high school, you could fit a throw into a window and maybe now you can’t fit that window. Take what the defense gives you and go play by play.
How important was it to play some last season?
I feel like it was very important, to go in there and get the butterflies out of the way. It’s a completely different stage than high school. At the end of the day, it’s just a game, same field, doing what I’m doing my whole life.
What was that first game against BYU like?
It was really cool. In the Superdome. Gave me the jitters after the game (knowing) I just played in my first college football game, but at the end of the day, it’s just a game. Can’t look bigger than what the picture is.
You had a tight competition with Danny Etling in August. Coach said it was close. How does this one with Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse compare?
It’s just as close. The quarterback room, we’re competing every day, pushing each other as hard as we can. The quarterback room is open. For us, we’re all buddies, all teammates. When we go out there and perform, we’re trying to make each other better and learn from each other’s mistakes.
You beat out them two in August for the backup job. How does that set you up for this job?
I really don’t look at it that way. I look at it as this is a new spring, a new season. We’re trying to push each other to get better. I’m going to let that take care of itself.
What’s your relationship with Lowell?
I feel like I have a good relationship with all the quarterbacks. Lowell and I obviously saw each other a lot more in high school, but my relationship with Justin and Lowell are really good. Good friends off the field and on the field.
What do you need to improve on the most going into this season?
There’s a lot to learn and improve on. The biggest thing is not forcing throws. That’s the biggest thing. If they’re going to give you the intermediate route, take it. You don’t need to hit a home run shot every play. Like I said, erase the bad plays and move forward. Get ready for the next down.
What do you see out of the receivers?
Got a great receiving corps. Busting their butts every day. They’re trying to learn just like every other position, giving max effort. I feel like we’re going to be really good in the receiving corps.
Looking back at the film, talking about not forcing things, how would you break down the Syracuse and Troy games?
Troy, I still remember Tory. It was my first interception. My eyes were in the wrong spot. They were supposed to be in the inside throwing the dig (route). I went outside and a flat defender was right underneath the curl route. That’s just a lot to learn, where you’re eyes are supposed to be, coverages. I learn every day and move forward.
How did you handle the shuffle with you and Danny, going back and forth?
It was a lot, but at the end of the day, I was just doing what the coaches asked me to do. On the headset, they would (say) ‘Go get warm.’ That’s my job to go get warm and go in and perform the best I can do. Coach O had a plan. I had to follow that.
How’s the transition been from Canada to (Steve) Ensminger as a coordinator?
Coach Canada was a really good coach. Now that he’s moved on, I love Coach Ensminger. Very positive guy. He doesn’t like to harp on the negative things, but we have to talk about it, because that’s how we learn. He’s always up-going, upbeat, brings a lot of energy to the table. He’s a very good coach and has played the position, which helps out a lot.
How do you balance the quarterback competition while trying to emerge as a leader of the team?
You’ve got to let the quarterback competition play out. I’m trying to be a leader as well as everyone else on this team. We’re all going out there and trying to lead each other. That will take care of itself.
Who did you turn to last year when you needed advice or help through rough spots?
My family for sure. They’re the ones always going to be there for you – good, bad or indifferent. As we all know, LSU fans are crazy. Got to block that out. Mentally, you’ve got to be very strong. My family was there for me every game.
The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy. Did you feel that last year and did it make things awkward between you and Danny?
Not really. Him and I were roommates every game. We got a lot closer, and one things I admire from him was he was always trying to help me out, never got salty I was behind him. He was always there helping me learn.
What did you learn from him?
He was smart with the ball. Two interceptions. He took what the defense gave him. That was the biggest thing. At this level, being a quarterback, it’s just taking what they give you and being smart with the ball.
How much did it help rooming with him before games?
It helped a lot, especially this year. Knowing what his pregame rituals were and going over the game plan and studying what things he needed to study. I think that helped a lot.
What were his pregame rituals?
The funniest one for me… when we were at the bowl game, we had downtime. He had his little Nintendo DS, playing his games or listening to music, or going over the game plan, drawing plays or going over the game plan together. Just staying focused and ready for the task at hand.
What are your pregame rituals?
Pretty similar. I don’t own a Nintendo DS. I might have to get one. Going through the game plan, drawing all the plays, certain coverages and watching the film and being ready for the different blitzes.
How have you performed in the scrimmages?
I felt like I’ve done well. There’s a lot to improve on and learn and get better at. I take it a day at a time, scrimmage at a time and try to pick something out every day to get better on.
Lowell has the legs. Justin has the veteran leadership. What do you bring to the quarterback room?
I feel like I do what the coaches ask. Obviously, Lowell and Justin both are fasters than I am. But if they ask me to run, I’m going to run. If they ask me to throw, I’m going to throw. Whatever they ask me to do, I can do.
Where are you at weight wise and where do you want to be?
Right now I’m at 195, 196. My goal weight is 210-215. It’s tough right now with the spring because we’re constantly going, but definitely this offseason I’ll get it up there.
It’s just my body, being so young. It hasn’t matured yet, but I’m capable of doing it, so I will do it. It’s part of it.
Do you eat at Brennan’s restaurants in New Orleans (a lot)?
I do. Good food.
What’s your diet like?
I’m on an insane meal plan. I come in here early in the morning and get breakfast and shake. I’m eating six to seven meals a day.
Must be rough…
It is rough. I’m having to force food in my body that it obviously doesn’t want to take in, because I’m not used to it. I’m eating to the point where I’m basically about to throw up.
How do you fit into an RPO offense?
If it’s part of the offense and if that’s the offense that’s going to be successful, then I have to learn it and perform. Whether it’s running, throwing or an RPO, I feel like I’m capable of all of the above.
How is this offense similar to the one you ran at St. Stanislaus?
We are doing RPOs. I feel like it’s going to be a successful offense. I do see myself being successful in this offense like I was in high school.
How much do y’all talk about and work on preparing for Miami in the season opener?
Not really. We don’t really focus on that. Going into scrimmages, we try to get a mindset of a game, but we’re trying to install the offense and find our identity and find the leaders and guys who can make plays. We’re not focusing on Miami right now.