The battle to follow throughout fall camp at LSU will be on the quarterback position and whether it'll be veteran Myles Brennan or rising sophomore star Max Johnson.
Both put up numbers in there few starts throughout the COVID-19 shortened season and leave Ed Orgeron and the offensive staff with a challenging decision throughout the course of fall camp. In three starts, Brennan completed 60% of his passes for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns while Johnson completed 58.7% of his passes for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns in six appearances with two starts.
Of course Johnson's two wins over a top 25 ranked Florida and then Ole Miss to close out the season helped him earn the first reps in spring camp but Orgeron insists this job is wide open with less than two months until the season opener against UCLA.
"We've got a battle at quarterback, I think it's healthy for our football team, I believe in both quarterbacks," Orgeron said. "Myles Brennan and Max Johnson I think are two championship quarterbacks, whoever wins is going to do a great job at LSU. It's going to be a great battle and we'll see what happens."
For Brennan, a quarterback battle is nothing new for him as he experienced it back in 2018 when Joe Burrow came in from Ohio State in what started as a four man battle. It very quickly turned into a two man race, with Burrow edging out Brennan as a two-year starter.
If not for that abdomen injury that cost him all but three games of the 2020 season, Brennan was putting up such impressive numbers that it's fair to wonder if we would've ever seen Johnson or TJ Finley. The one thing that both Johnson and Brennan have going for them is confidence in the scheme brought in by new offensive coordinator Jake Peetz.
Brennan remembers it from his days in 2019 behind Burrow and Joe Brady and while the terminology may be a bit different, the schemes won't be. As for Johnson, the opportunity to get a little bit of film out in the wins over Florida and Ole Miss, showed of the variety of ways his skills can be used not just in the spread but as a runner in the option as well, a forgotten part of the offense with Burrow under center.
While Orgeron doesn't expect either to live up to the lofty expectations set by Burrow, the protections and checks within the offense are the areas he'll be looking at in terms of deciding the quarterback for the 2021 season.
"I don't know if we're gonna see another Joe Burrow," Orgeron said. "I hope we do and I can't wait to see him. I hope Max and Myles or Garrett Nussmeier, they develop into that. But the type of offense that we're gonna run, the style of offense we're gonna run is 2019. The type of checks we had, the types of protection, that's the stuff I'm talking about.
"Whether or not Max or Myles can run it like Joe, I'm not expecting that but I want to see the same type of plays, the same adjustment that was so successful for us. That doesn't mean it's going to be the only thing we run but that's going to be the basis of the whole offense, which we ran under Joe Brady."
Of course one of the guys who will have a front row seat to seeing it all play out will be Derek Stingley, the Heisman candidate at cornerback whose job it'll be to make Johnson and Brennan's life difficult in practice. He's seen how both have operated over the last 12 months together and couldn't be more excited to see how the battle plays out over the coming months.
"I'm proud of them both, they both work hard, they both work real hard and I'm excited to see how it all plays out," Stingley said.
"It's amazing really because you have both of those guys and they are like human highlight reels because they're fighting for everything," tackle Austin Deculus added. "They're fighting for that spot. So they're going to give their best every day, and regardless of who it is, they're both going to do a great job for us."
Surely there will be other important battles to follow throughout camp but both quarterbacks have stepped up from a leadership perspective, leaving Orgeron and Peetz with that much harder of a decision to make.
"I love the mindset of this football team, the leadership of this football team," Orgeron said.