Coach O says both freshman QBS will play Saturday vs. No. 1 Alabama

LSU coach Ed Orgeron hasn't announced a starting QB for Saturday's home game vs No. 1 Alabama, but said both Max Johnson (14) and TJ Finley (11) will play.

One season removed from an undefeated national championship ,LSU’s 2020 football season has been a rather forgettable one, marked by a 3-4 record going into Saturday’s 7 p.m. Tiger Stadium SEC matchup with top-ranked and undefeated Alabama.

However, one area where LSU’s program hasn’t slowed down is on the recruiting trail. The Tigers, with 21 commitments, boast the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class according to 247Sports.

Even though LSU’s Class of 2021 incurred the loss of long-time defensive tackle commitment Anthony Hundley of IMG Academy, who decommitted Tuesday, Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron believes his program has positioned itself well going the NCAA’s early signing period Dec. 16-18.

“We’re looking forward to that,” Orgeron said during Wednesday’s weekly SEC coaches teleconference. “Not everybody’s going to sign that we want. We’re targeting a bunch of them to sign. The mid-year graduates are going to sign. I think we’re going to have the majority of our players sign, but we’re going to have to leave some scholarships open. There’s going to be some big guys out there that don’t want to sign until February and also graduate transfers.”

Here’s what else Orgeron had to say:

Opening remarks

“Obviously we’re very excited to have Alabama this week. A great football team, a great football coach. We’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be a big challenge. They’re very explosive on offense, one of the best offensive lines we’ve seen in a while. Great skill players. Mac Jones is having an outstanding year. Najee Harris, Devonta Smith are excellent players. It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re ready for it.”

On expected return of Myles Brennan for the 2021 season

“We have not discussed that. We’re just taking it one game at a time. Those are those things we’re going to discuss. I have not talked to his parents. The first thing we’re concerned with is Myles’ health and getting him better and whether that be with an operation or something we can get better through rehab”

On the impact of having Brennan at all games this season

“Myles has been invested in LSU football since he was a young man. He’s a great young man, he’s good to have around, he’s good to have around for the quarterbacks and be in the quarterbacks (meeting) room. He’s a good team player.”

On the idea of starting the season in a 3-4 defense and gradually changing to a 4-3

“I don’t think that has a lot to do with it. Most of our mistakes were explosive pass plays. It was in the coverage. Whether you’re playing a 3-4 or 4-3, those coverages can still be run out of both fronts. I thought we had personnel that fit more of the 4-3 scheme than the 3-4. I don’t think that had much to do it.”

On the reasons why the defense struggled earlier in the season

“We didn’t have spring football. Lot of new guys in live action. Missed assignments and the explosive plays. A lot of them came down to communication, a lot of them came down to technique and fundamentals that we weren’t executing at a high level. And we could have called better defenses and better coverages and made better adjustments.”

On the availability this week of safety Mo Hampton

“He’s available this week and ready to go. Also, (fullback/tight end) Tory Carter got reinstated yesterday and is available for this game. He will play.”

On how both quarterbacks are doing in practice and the benefit of an open competition

“It is good for both (TJ Finley, Max Johnson) of them. Probably both of them will play as you saw in the Texas A&M game. The one thing I wanted to give them confidence was it’s about all 11 (players) protecting the football. It’s not all about one guy. I can’t blame turnovers on the young quarterbacks. We’ve got to protect them better.”

On the ability to win a game (at Arkansas) after being off for three weeks

“For us, we had a three-week layoff after a loss (at Auburn). Ain’t nobody was happy around here for three weeks. The practices were spirited. They were tough, they were physical. We had three weeks to get better and at LSU and that’s what you’re seeing. Instead of game planning each week for another opponent, we spent three weeks of getting better on ourselves.”

On the difference in the lengths of SEC-mandated quarantines on contact tracing being shortened from 10-14 days to 7-10 days

“The less the better. If they approved it, I think it would help us.”

On what’s impressed you the most about Alabama’s offensive line

“They’re big, they’re physical. They’re fast off the football. They’re good zone, they’re good gap scheme. Obviously, Najee (Harris) helps them, but they all work in tandem together. I studied Alex Gibbs’ zone scheme and they’re running the same, exact thing. It’s a little bit different. Everything is tied in together. They work in unison together. They’re very well coached and they’re some really good players. They’re some NFL players up there, some potential first-round draft choices up there.”

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