Ten days before their season-opener in Houston, neither Wisconsin nor LSU has publicly settled on a starting quarterback. The Tigers held their final fall scrimmage on Tuesday, and though head coach Les Miles admitted some positive takeaways, he insisted the team remains undecided between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris.
"I don't know that there's been separation, one from the other," Miles said, according to nola.com. "Both provided a high level of execution today.
"There's an opportunity to see both quarterbacks play. We have a full game week and several practices this week left. I think I'll wait before I describe exactly how I'd like to play these guys."
Jennings, a 6'2, 225-pound quarterback from Marietta, Georgia, is "the likely starter at the position," per his official bio on LSU's website. He appeared in nine games last season behind Zach Mettenberger and started one, going 13-of-29 for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He won that one game he started, a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl. In doing so, he became just the third LSU quarterback to start a game as a true freshman.
Jennings' biggest moment of 2013 came when he replaced Mettenberger vs. Arkansas following an injury. With the Tigers trailing 27-24 and 3:04 remaining on the clock, Jennings engineered an eight-play, 99-yard drive that culminated in a 49-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Travin Dural.
For kicks, here's the absolute gem Arkansas coach Bret Bielema laid after the game:
"I'm numb. I'm frustrated and wanted to have some good feelings heading into the offseason," Bielema said. "I just wanted to give these seniors that Golden Boot trophy and see them run across the field. I wanted to see them celebrate. I wanted our guys to taste it.
"I grew up on a farm," Bielema continued. "You didn't want certain animals to taste blood because once they taste blood you have got to kill them, because they will keep coming back for it. I think our players will do the same once they grasp it and truly get the feeling of what beating somebody's will out of them can do to a person. It'll come, but unfortunately it won't come until next year."
Anyway, that was LSU's final regular-season game before the Outback Bowl. Jennings' stat line vs. Iowa, though he led LSU to the win, was mediocre: 7-of-19, 82 yards, one interception and one rushing touchdown. Moving forward, the Tigers would like to see more of a steady pocket presence from Jennings, who came to LSU as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2013, per 247Composite.
As for his competitor, Brandon Harris is a 6'3, 188-pound freshman from Bossier City, Louisiana. 247Composite ranked him the country's No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2014, behind only Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Texas' Jerrod Heard (you can see Harris' Hudl tape right here). Harris enrolled early and enjoyed a strong performance in LSU's spring game: 195 passing yards, three touchdowns; 77 rushing yards and another touchdown.
Given the disparity in their sizes -- Jennings is nearly 40 pounds heavier, albeit still mobile enough -- and skill sets, talk of a two-quarterback system in Baton Rouge has collected steam. That's worked out just fine for LSU before: in 2011, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson led the Tigers to the BCS Championship Game.
Elsewhere in the offense, LSU has two freshman running backs (Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams) along with two seniors (Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard) behind a veteran offensive line. Of course, a prolonged quarterback battle also means the wide receivers are tasked with staying on the same page with whomever may be throwing them passes.
That all sound familiar? It should, as we've spent essentially all of fall camp wondering how Wisconsin's offense will shake out between the Joel Stave-Tanner McEvoy quarterback battle, previously unproven wide receivers breaking out and two freshmen pushing for the final running back spot. These similarities between LSU and Wisconsin should make for an enticing subplot to the Aug. 30 opener in Houston.