One may have decisive edge in LSU quarterback derby

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
Max Johnson
Max Johnson won his first two college starts at quarterback, leading LSU to wins over Florida and Ole Miss in 2020 (Photo: Brandon Gallego).

At LSU, an open quarterback competition is underway.

And it is as sumptuous as a good Louisiana gumbo.

The most experienced quarterback, Myles Brennan, is also coming back from a serious injury. Before Brennan was shelved for the season, he had pieced together outstanding numbers. He tossed 11 touchdown passes, threw for 1,112 yards and averaged an eye popping 8.5 yards per pass attempt. His quarterback rating was a sizzling 154.7.

With Brennan down, true freshman TJ Finley from Ponchatoula was given his first college start against South Carolina. He finished the season with 5 touchdowns passes and 5 interceptions but his numbers come with an asterisk.

Three of Finley’s starts came at Auburn, at Texas A&M and against Alabama in Baton Rouge. Tough sledding.

In the final two games, head coach Ed Orgeron turned to lefty Max Johnson, son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson.

Johnson led a depleted roster to a pair of wins. He threw for 239 yards and rushed for 52 more in a 37-34 win at Florida. In the season finale against Ole Miss, Johnson passed for 435 yards with three touchdowns and ran for two more scores as the Tigers took a comeback 53-48 win over the Rebs.

As the offseason kicked off, Johnson left Orgeron with a question to ponder. How do I possibly keep that quarterback off the field when the 2021 season kicks off?

My guess? Orgeron won’t.

Johnson also gives the Tigers something that Brennan and Finley do not.  He is a serious running threat.

Brennan is a pocket passer. Finley is a pocket passer who can run, and his size makes him a huge weapon inside the five yard line.

But only Johnson is a runner who brings that extra dimension to the LSU offense.

If you don’t believe that, go back and watch the Florida game. Several times in the Swamp, he avoided pressure and turned negative yards plays into a positive gain.

This isn’t an acquired skill.

In the meantime, Orgeron has a dilemma that no LSU coach in recent memory has faced.

The last coaches to have it were Gerry DiNardo and Nick Saban.

And, that is three NFL draft picks fighting for the same job.

Craig Nall, named the starter in 1999, later transferred to Northwestern State before he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round in 2002.

In that same draft, Rohan Davey, who won the job and led LSU to a win over Illinois in the Sugar Bowl to cap a stellar 2001 season, was drafted in the fourth round by the Patriots.

One year earlier, LSU quarterback Josh Booty was selected in the 6th round by Seattle.

Two decades later, the LSU head coach still has three to choose, and only one can really play.

To add to the logjam, 2021 signee Garrett Nussmeier and high school quarterback commitment Walker Howard, son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard, are next to join the Tigers tussle on the depth chart.

At LSU, there are lots choices at quarterback, but you can only choose one.

  • < PREV Tulane set 2021 Spring Game for April 3 at Yulman Stadium
  • NEXT > Report: Caesars expected to land Superdome naming rights
Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

Read more >