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LSU to Spend Final Three Weeks of Season Learning About Future of Quarterback Room

Max Johnson and Garrett Nussmeier to each play 'significant' snaps against Arkansas

Garrett Nussmeier walked into Ed Orgeron's office on Sunday morning and made his case for playing. Nussmeier watched on the bench as LSU's game against Alabama came down to the wire and was itching to get in the game. 

Up to this point, the true freshman quarterback has played in three games and had an agreement with his coach that he would play significant snaps for one more game in order to preserve a redshirt freshman season. But Nussmeier and his father, Doug, came to an understanding after the Alabama game that the freshman wanted to play, even if that meant having to give up a redshirt year.

So Doug called LSU offensive coordinator Jake Peetz and let him know of the family's decision while Garrett confirmed with Orgeron in his office. What surfaced is a gameplan that will likely see the future of the quarterback room start to unfold.

Orgeron announced Monday that sophomore Max Johnson would start against Arkansas but that Nussmeier would also play in the first half. Whoever plays the best will control the snaps in the second half and perhaps the rest of the season. 

"We'll let the best man play," Orgeron said. "We've decided to let the Garrett play, he's a great quarterback. I like Max a lot, he's still our starting quarterback but I will give Garrett a chance. He wants to play so we'll play him and the guy who plays the best will play the most."

Orgeron said that Johnson and Nussmeier will split reps in practice this week in preparation for a two quarterback week against the Razorbacks. Nussmeier played in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss, leading two scoring drives while throwing for 103 yards and a touchdown in the process, turning a lot of heads inside and out of the program. 

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Dating back to the spring, the word out of the program was just the energy spark that Nussmeier gives to this offense when under center, something that could've been useful down the stretch of that Alabama game as the offense stalled. Orgeron even mentioned Monday just how there doesn't appear to be much of an identity with the offense at the moment, which is why Nussmeier being willing to forfeit that redshirt year is so eye opening. 

Peetz and Orgeron haven't exactly gone through the whole gameplan in how the first half reps will be divvied up but a lot of it will depend on how practice goes this week and how the game plays out on Saturday. 

"If Max plays better than Garrett, he'll be the starter, if Garrett plays better than Max, he'll be the starter. Let them battle it out," Orgeron said. 

The program handled this situation perfectly by respecting Nussmeier's wishes and letting him make the ultimate decision about potentially giving up a redshirt season. Orgeron talked about how 'mad' Garrett was that he wasn't able to play because of the agreed upon structure and why Orgeron didn't want to throw him out there for just a few plays.

"I had talked to Doug on Thursday and that if we put him in it would have to be snaps that were significant," Orgeron said. "I didn't feel it was time to throw him in there for a couple of plays. He [Garrett] came to my office yesterday and was adamant about playing so that's what we're doing."

How this plays out will be fascinating for the future of this room. For Nussmeier, the perspective is easy to understand as if he plays well and gets some good tape for the next regime that only bodes well for his case next season. If Johnson should out perform Nussmeier this weekend, it's no harm no foul as Nussmeier gets to keep his redshirt availability. 

It's clearly a situation that's in the best interest of the program to see both this season and will be fascinating to watch unfold throughout the week.