Why Brandon Harris Over Anthony Jennings For LSU?
LSU has yet to decide who its starting quarterback will be against Wisconsin, and most likely for the remainder of this season. The competition is between true freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings.
For me, this one is a no-brainer. Harris should win this battle based on arm-talent alone, but let's take a closer look at the matchup.
Jennings was the No.14 pro-style quarterback in the 2013 class according to 24/7 Sports. He is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback from Marietta, Ga. Jennings broke out last year when he was forced to replace Zach Mettenberger after Mettenberger was injured against Arkansas.
Jennings led a 99-yard game-winning drive with less than two minutes to play that included two carries for 23 yards and six completions for 76 yards, with the winning toss a 49-yarder to Travin Dural. Jennings was named the starter for the Outback Bowl against Iowa, but did not perform as well as some had hoped. He finished the game 7-for-19 for 82 yards and an interception with a total QBR of 19.7. LSU still managed to pull out the 21-14 victory.
That said, I was just as excited about Jennings as the next guy. He pulled off a miraculous victory against Arkansas and underperformed against Iowa, but he was still young so so i figured he could develop in time for 2014.
Jennings has grown since last season, but just not enough to give you a good feeling when you watch him play, especially alongside Harris. If you are curious as to which Jennings LSU would be getting if he were to start, it would be the Iowa Jennings. Maybe not that poor of a showing, but still not good enough.
I was able to watch him this spring and he was extremely vocal and encouraging when it came to drills and practices. He looks like the guy you want leading your team, but once he gets under center, you change your mind.
Jennings is pretty mobile and accurate from intermediate to short range. He does not have a lot of zip on the ball, but his placement is what makes him solid. He has almost zero arc on his long balls, making them easy targets for interceptions. The thing that really turned me off was his pocket presence. When he was pressured from the outside during the spring game, he never stepped up in the pocket. He would roll out, limit his options downfield and force throws. Jennings hardly looked comfortable in the pocket and threw two pick-sixes because of it.
Compared to Harris, Jennings was just mediocre and stood out in a negative way.
Harris was the No.3 dual-threat quarterback in the country in the 2014 class. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman out of Bossier City, La., enrolled early at LSU in the spring and shined during the practices and spring game.
Harris lacks experience, but from what I have seen in his high school film, spring practice and the spring game, he still gets the nod.
Harris was not as vocal early in the spring, but I did not expect him to be. He has been more vocal as of late now that he is more comfortable with the offense and has developed his relationships. He brings a "lead by example" demeanor that resonates throughout the offense and I think it rubs off on some of the other younger teammates.
Harris' best qualities come when he has the football. He has an absolute missile launcher for an arm and is capable of making all the throws. He definitely understands the "throw it where you only your guy can get it" aspect of passing. Harris' ability to avoid the rush and step up in the pocket is what really impressed me. With Danielle Hunter crashing from the outside, he knew that he needed to step up in the pocket and find his check-down receiver. That was something I did not expect from a "dual-threat guy." His best quality is his ability to look downfield in scrambling situations.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been working with Harris on his read-option for this fall and it will force defenses to spy him, making Harris' downfield vision that much more effective.
With Jennings, I think you get a quarterback who can escape pressure from time to time and has the ability to make the easier throws with precision. But he is not going to be the most dynamic quarterback and will not make a ton of plays, even though he takes his fair share of risks by rolling out of the pocket. Harris not only can make every throw as Jennings, but is also able to throw a better deep ball and keeps defenses on their toes with his speed and smart decisions.
Harris is my guy, and he will be LSU's too.