LSU junior quarterback Myles Brennan is officially out for the South Carolina game, coach Ed Orgeron announced on Thursday. True freshman TJ Finley will draw the start against the Gamecocks.
It was an outcome that became increasingly likely by the day as Brennan continues to nurse a lower body injury that has taken longer to heal than initially thought. Orgeron said Thursday that the decision to start Finley over Johnson was so close that it nearly came down to a coin flip.
"I wish I could start two and I told Max that I want to play him, but it all depends on the flow of the game," Orgeron said. "Hopefully they can play the same amount of reps."
Finley draws the start over fellow freshman Max Johnson, who figures to play plenty on Saturday as well. Orgeron said earlier this week that whoever looked better at practice would get first crack with the offense against South Carolina.
What separated Finley from Johnson this week was just a few better possessions in third down situations, which is an area LSU will need to address after most recently going 0-for-10 against Missouri.
"If we get in the game and TJ gets hot, I'm not gonna take him out," Orgeron said.
At 6-foot-6, 242 pounds, the Ponchatoula native is known for having a cannon arm and since dropping some weight in the offseason, has expanded his mobility in the pocket as well.
"TJ's a hard worker, he's very cerebral, always studying football and he's always had a cannon for an arm," Orgeron said. "I think he's come a long way and I do believe he'll do well."
South Carolina likes to bring pressure so Orgeron has had the conversation with Finley and believes he's ready to make throws with guys in his face. Orgeron said everybody has stepped up their game since it became more and more likely that Brennan would be out on Saturday.
"The offensive line has gotta block for him, everybody's gotta pick up their game," Orgeron said. "There's gonna be some times where he's gonna get sacked, he's gonna get hit but I think he's prepared, he's a big kid, steps up in the pocket and can run well. I think our football team has grown this week.
"I think we're gonna play lights out. I think we're gonna play our best game. You could feel the energy in the office, in the meetings and I see the corrections being made."
Speaking of Brennan, Orgeron did reveal that he did some light throwing on Wednesday and will suit up, though it's not expected that he'll play.
"We just gotta wait and see next week, this is a wait and see thing," Orgeron said. "We're gonna be patient."