September 29, 2014
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, file photo, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Malachi Dupre, not pictured, during the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico State in Baton Rouge, L
Gerald Herbert, File

After leading touchdown drives on nine of his last 10 series in a backup role, LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris is slated to make his first start in the 15th-ranked Tigers' first Southeastern Conference road game of the season at No. 5 Auburn this Saturday.

LSU coach Les Miles announced the change in the pecking order on Monday, two days after Anthony Jennings, who started the first five games for LSU (4-1) had arguably his worst outings of the season before Harris entered the game and led seven straight touchdown drives.

''It stands to reason that (Harris) will get the first snaps in the next game,'' Miles said. ''He has done the things we have asked him to do. He has made quality decisions with the ball.''

However, the LSU defense will be without one of its statistical leaders for the game and likely for the rest of the season.

A person familiar with the situation said safety Dwayne Thomas, who was helped off the field Saturday night against New Mexico State, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because LSU has not announced Thomas' injury.

Thomas, a redshirt sophomore, did not start but played regularly. His 24 tackles rank fifth on the team. He also has 1 1/2 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Freshman Jamal Adams could see more playing time in six-defensive back, or ''dime'' formations during Thomas' absence.

As for Harris, his performance has ranged from efficient to spectacular since he relieved Jennings in the final five minutes of LSU's 34-29 loss to Mississippi State two weekends ago.

Jennings completed 13 of 26 passes for 157 yards in that game, which he left in the fourth quarter with LSU behind 34-16.

Upon taking the field, Harris quickly marched the Tigers 95 yards, capped by a 31-yard scoring pass to Malachi Dupre. And after LSU recovered a fumbled snap, Harris hit Dupree with a 30-yard scoring strike to put the Tigers within one score with 1:27 left.

LSU got the ball back once more on its own 20 with 20 seconds left, and Harris quickly moved the Tigers across midfield to set up a failed Hail Mary attempt, marking the only time in Harris' last 10 series in which the Tigers failed to reach the end zone.

''It's just more about staying focused and not getting complacent about a little success,'' Harris said following last Saturday's victory over New Mexico State. ''I knew when my opportunity came I wanted to make the most of it just to show everybody, and show the coaching staff that I could play.''

Harris' success against New Mexico State immediately followed a miserable stint for Jennings, who committed three turnovers - two interceptions and one fumble - on LSU's first seven offensive series of the game. Harris followed with seven straight touchdown drives in which the strong-armed QB with the quick feet threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores.

''Harris has some ad-lib to his game which is very, very positive,'' Miles said. ''He is really fast and can really throw the ball. He can extend a play so really good things can happen.''

Jennings has completed 51 percent of his passes (42-of-83) this season for 734 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions. In a smaller body of work, Harris has completed 73 percent (22-of-30) for 394 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.

''I am comfortable with Brandon as the starter,'' senior tailback Terrence Magee said. ''I told Brandon after the game Saturday to stay focused and stay humble. He just needs to continue to grow in the offense.''

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Bryan Lazare contributed to this story from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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