Where does LSU’s quarterback battle stand? We dive into the competition in Week 2 of spring

March 22, 2018

Myles Brennan throws a “bullet” and possesses a “sharp eye.”

Justin McMillan has a “cannon” for an arm and can scramble.

Lowell Narcisse’s passes have “beautiful touch.”

During the second week of LSU’s spring practice, the three-man quarterback competition wages on without a leader, according to coach Ed Orgeron and players.

The three quarterbacks have not yet been made available for interviews this spring, but their teammates are not shy about dissecting their skills. Tight end Foster Moreau took his turn Tuesday, using the aforementioned words to categorize each player.

On the standing of the competition, Moreau fell in line with his head coach.

“I’d say dead even,” he said.

This has been a theme so far this spring, a banner Orgeron himself has carried. Any public discussion from LSU’s football facility paints this quarterback competition as still very much up for grabs, a tight battle that will probably rage into preseason camp.

In his two spring news conferences so far, Orgeron has mentioned the underdogs, McMillan and Narcisse, more than the favorite, Brennan — an attempt, potentially, at publicly leveling the playing field.

So many signs point to Brennan as the man to beat. The sophomore from Mississippi topped his two competitors just seven months ago for the backup job to Danny Etling in a battle that Orgeron described then as “very close.” He is taking the first snaps during team and individual drills, something that began Day 1 of spring on March 11.

Orgeron referred to Brennan last fall as a “pure passer” and described him earlier this month as a “drop-back passer” — the type of QB who fits a pass-leaning scheme that Orgeron and new coordinator Steve Ensminger say they’re planning.

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But Orgeron has spent the early portion of spring praising McMillan and Narcisse. After spring’s opening day, he said Narcisse “looked the best he’s been.” Asked then about Brennan, he began his answer with the other two: “I thought Justin had a tremendous day, and so did Lowell. It looks like it doesn’t bother them whether they’re with the first or second or third team.”

Orgeron has stressed all the quarterbacks are taking “equal reps,” and that there is “no first-team quarterback.” Practices are open to reporters for a limited time during individual drills. The pecking order of the quarterbacks has remained somewhat steady since spring began: Brennan-McMillan-Narcisse.

“They all have great work ethic. It’s a great competition,” Moreau said. “We have three great, talented quarterbacks, which is why it is a competition. If one was easily better than the other one, we’d probably say, ‘OK, you’re the starting quarterback. You guys take it from him.’ It’s an open competition because they’re all such great players.”

McMillan, the redshirt junior from Texas, is the only name Moreau mentioned when asked if anyone had taken steps in the battle thus far this spring.

“They’ve all had great plays, but they’ve all made a few mistakes, read a few coverages wrong, threw the wrong ball,” Moreau said. “Justin’s looked really good. I’ll say that.”

The standing of the competition at spring’s end could lead to a potential transfer from the quarterback room. It is something Orgeron has suggested over the past few months, mentioning a need to sign a transfer quarterback after the spring.

Scrimmages often shine the light on QB battles. These pressurized game-type situations normally determine a leader or winner. LSU’s 58-play scrimmage in Tiger Stadium on Saturday was closed to the media, but the defense held the offensive units scoreless, defenders said during interview Tuesday. McMillan saw at least brief time with the starting group during that scrimmage.

“Lowell, he’s such an athlete, can make plays,” defensive end Breiden Fehoko said. “Justin McMillan is the same way. He’s a grownup and a leader, knows what defenses are bringing. He knows how to dissect what our secondary is doing. Myles is a gunslinger, got a cannon of an arm. We were watching the 2s go, and me and Rashard were watching Myles throw a slant route, nailed it right between the two linebackers.”

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