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LSU Tigers head football coach Les Miles has tapped true freshman Brandon Harris as the starter for the upcoming Oct. 4 road game against the Auburn Tigers.
ESPN’s David Ching reported on the development in his Sept. 29 blog:
“LSU’s coach did it in his own oddball way. In his postgame press conference, Miles instructed a local TV anchor who requested to interview the freshman quarterback to say ‘pretty please’ and then told the reporters in the room not to ask Harris any difficult questions. It was fitting, as he has handled the Tigers’ quarterback battle in uniquely Miles fashion.
“No matter what Miles says to the contrary, that battle is over. By letting Harris face the media, Miles all but admitted — even if he refused to confirm — Harris will start ahead of sophomore Anthony Jennings with No. 15 LSU (4-1, 0-1 SEC) visits No. 5 Auburn (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday.
“‘We have always done things in a measured fashion,’ Miles said. ‘We will go back, look at the film, communicate with our team and not do so through the paper…That’s not necessarily the splash you want, but that is how we do things.’
“Fine. Miles is doing the respectabe thing by taking Jennings’ psyche into account while making the inevitable quarterback switch.
“Jennings is a 19-year-old kid who seeemed to say and do the right things throughout his competition with Harris, and he might not have played his last important snap as a Tiger. Jennings is also 5-1 as LSU’s starting quarterback — including wins against Iowa and Wisconsin — so he deserves far better than the boos that rained down each time Miles sent the struggling starter back into Saturday’s game before ultimately benching him in favor of Harris.
“The fans who booed and chanted ‘We want Harris!’ at Tiger Stadium were ultimately proven correct, at least in their expectations for the freshman quarterback. Harris was nothing short of phenomenal and lead LSU to seven touchdowns in seven drives and 429 yards of total offense in roughly two quarters of work.
“Miles can publicly handle the situation however he sees fit, but aside from on-field experience (and nobody would describe either of them as a veteran) there is no measure that indicates Jennings is a superior option to start over Harris — not the scoreboard, not the stat sheet and certainly not the eye test.
“(The) Mississippi State (Bulldogs) shut down the Jennings-led LSU offense for the first 56 minutes two weeks ago before Harris came on and nearly led the Tigers to what would have been a miraculous comeback win. Miles showed loyalty to his starting quarterback — when he started Jennings for the sixth consecutive game against New Mexico State and left him in despite three turnovers and two three-and-outs in LSU’s first seven possessions.
“Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have given Jennings every opportunity to claim this job, and he simply hasn’t been able able to get it done. Harris has, and sometimes in spectacular fashion, with the Tigers scoring points at a far greater rate with him under center.”
NOLA.com’s Ron Higgins argues it comes as no surprise Miles named Harris his starter against Auburn:
“The surprise on Monday wasn’t that LSU football coach Les Miles named true freshman Brandon Harris as the Tigers’ starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at No. 5 Auburn.
“The shocker was Miles made the announcement within the first 30 seconds in the opening statement of his weekly press conference.
“Usually, you have to ask Miles questions about personnel, injuries or suspension, and his responses often are textbook gobbledygook. He’ll say a whole lot of nothing and work the phrase ‘interesting piece’ somewhere in his response. His nickname should be ‘Stonewall Jackson’ instead of ‘The Mad Hatter.’
“But there was no hiding the obvious of what took place Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, especially after Miles reviewed the game film of now-No. 15 LSU’s 63-7 victory over New Mexico State. It confirmed what he saw up close and personal.
“Harris came off the bench to guide the Tigers to seven touchdowns in seven possessions, throwing for three TDs and running for two more. Sophomore starter Anthony Jennings produced one TD and three turnovers in seven possessions.
“‘Our offense was much more productive, much more motivated, and had much more energy,’ Miles said of the Harris effect. ‘He just took the plays that we gave him and did just what we asked him to do. He’s a special guy who can be a good quarterback long term.
“‘We have to keep him managed emotionally from not trying to do too much. Quarterbacks, because criticism is so steep, think they have to do more than what only they are supposed to do.
“‘It’s like being the best volleyball player in gym class and you think if you don’t get to every ball that your team is going to lose. While you’re busting your butt to get to every position, you find out all the other team is doing is hitting balls to where you are supposed to be, costing your team points.”