LSU faces a problem that 10 years ago the program probably thought it'd never have to worry about. It's a good problem to have and one that will stir up offseason competition like never before. The Tigers have four very good quarterbacks on the roster capable of playing heavy snaps in 2021.
The quarterback room is the deepest and perhaps most talented from top to bottom that the LSU program has had in recent memory. Senior Myles Brennan, sophomores TJ Finley and Max Johnson as well as freshman Garrett Nussmeier make for one of the deepest rooms in the country as three of the four gained valuable SEC experience as starters in 2020 and all had moments to hang their hats on.
Though he's only spent a few days around the program getting to know the quarterbacks, offensive coordinator Jake Peetz is impressed with the character of the four guys who are set to compete for reps at quarterback.
“I’ll tell you what, we have some exceptional young men, and getting a chance to talk with these guys and getting a chance to talk with most of their parents at this point as well, you can see that it’s by no accident," Peetz said. "These are really good young men that are obviously very talented, but they’re good young men that I’m excited to work with and help grow them not only as players but as people. And we have great skill sets in there."
All throughout the 2020 season, the message was consistent out of Orgeron. While Finley and Johnson were earning snaps with Brennan out due to an abdomen injury, Orgeron reiterated that when healthy, Brennan was the quarterback.
Now, by bringing in Peetz and Mangas now running the show on offense, Orgeron admitted these are conversations that will need to be revisited and that he does expect competition in the quarterback room this offseason.
“Obviously, it’s a new offense so I need to talk to Jake and we need to make some decisions. But we’re not ready to announce that," Orgeron said. "Obviously, somebody has got to take the first snap. But it’s always going to be a competition. It’s always going to be the best guys play at quarterback, wide receivers, offensive line. It’s always a competition.”
The room is rife with talent but what Peetz likes more than anything is that there is enough difference between the four that make them all intriguing options. These are also four quarterbacks who Peetz believes can play in any system which makes the battle all the more intriguing this offseason.
"I wouldn’t say any of them are the same, which is good, right?" Peetz said. "That’s a good thing when we can draw different things, we can attack defenses in a different way. But it’s been a pleasure to get to know these guys, and I look forward to continuing to grow that.”
Peetz sees Brennan and Johnson in a similar light in the fact that both have mobility in the pocket and they both possess great footwork and poise. Brennan of course set program records in three starts before going out with an injury while Johnson was able to lead the Tigers to two straight wins to close out the 2020 season over Florida and Ole Miss.
Finley earned five starts throughout the course of the 2020 season and had his ups in wins over South Carolina and Arkansas but struggled with turnovers in losses to Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama. The talent is obvious and Peetz pointed to one player in particular that Finley reminds him of based off of just one meeting.
"TJ is a big man, now. Like we were talking earlier today. Seeing him the first time reminded me a lot of when I first came to Carolina and seeing Cam Newton," Peetz said. "I mean, these are big men. He is extremely talented. He’s a guy that can flick the wrist and the ball blow off of it. He’s a guy that you may not categorize him as a guy that can run and escape the pocket, but there are great examples on film where he’s able to move up and over."
As for Nussmeier, the freshman just arrived on campus this past weekend and is currently recovering from a broken bone on his non-throwing hand suffered in the final regular season game of his high school career. Unquestionably one of the leaders of the 2021 class, Peetz is looking forward to seeing what the freshman is like on the field.
"Garrett tore up 6A football in the state of Texas. He’s a guy that is extremely competitive, just like all these guys are extremely competitive," Peetz said. "But he’s a guy that I’m excited to see how he can move out of the pocket, in the pocket."
"All these kids, there’s not a limiting factor to their games saying, well we can’t play this style of football. But whoever the quarterback is, and whenever it is that they play, we’re going to play to their strengths."