Coach O says starting QB Myles Brennan “doubtful” for Saturday’s game at Florida

(Photo by: Chris Parent / LSU Athletics)

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said on Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference that starting quarterback Myles Brennan is doubtful for Saturday’s game at No. 10 Florida.

There’s no word yet whether the game will be postponed to later in the year on Dec. 12, the week the SEC built in for coronavirus-delayed game. Florida has 19 players and two coaches who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Brennan hasn’t practiced this week after taking a shot on his left shoulder scrambling for the goal line in last Saturday’s 45-41 loss at Missouri.

“He’s doubtful, I think maybe by Friday he’ll come around,” Orgeron said. “He didn’t practice yesterday (Tuesday) and he won’t practice today. I think he’ll practice by the end of the week.”

Brennan is ranked nationally in the top five in three categories — third in passing yards per game (370.70), fourth in TD passes (11) and fifth in completions per game (26.33).

Orgeron said true freshmen backup QBs Max Johnson of Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County High and TJ Finley of Ponchatoula (La.) High, who have yet to play a snap in LSU’s 1-2 start, are getting equal reps in practice.

“We have to (start Johnson or Finley),” Orgeron said. “Max and TJ both had great practices yesterday and both are equal right now. If we have to start one of them, I’m going to do it and we’ll believe in them.”

Johnson, a 6-5, 219-pound left hander and son of Super Bowl winning quarterback Brad Johnson, was the state of Georgia’s 2019 AAAA Offensive Player of the Year throwing 2,143 yards, 30 TDs and only five interceptions. For his prep career, the four-star rated prospect threw for 5,140 yards and 47 TDs and ran for 289 rushing yards and 14 TDs.

Finley, a 6-6, 242-pound right hander, was Louisiana’s top high school QB last year as a three-star prospect. He completed career-high 168 passes as a senior for 2,738 yards 21 touchdowns and rushed for eight TDs. He accounted for 72 touchdowns during his three-year high school career (58 passing, 14 rushing) and had 7,357 career yards.

“Max is more of runner, TJ has a strong arm and had an excellent (preseason) camp,” Orgeron said. “Both are phenomenal players. It’s hard to distinguish the difference between both of them they are so good.”

Here’s what else Orgeron said Wednesday:

Opening statement

“This week has been about fixing LSU football first. Way too many mistakes on defense, too many mistakes on the goal line (offense), on third down (offense), so we’re working hard on fixing our miscues, simplifying our defenses, simplifying our schemes so our guys can execute and then preparing for Florida, a very talented football team. Playing in The Swamp is a big challenge.”

On if he would be surprised if Saturday’s game would be canceled because of the Florida team COVID-19 outbreak of positive tests

“No, not at all. In 2020 it’s what we’re dealing with. The safety of the kids is the primary focus this week. If it’s safe for us to play, we’re going to play. If the best thing for us is not to play, we shouldn’t play.

“We’ve heard rumors the game may not be played, we’ve heard for sure it’s not going to be played. But what is legit, I don’t know because (LSU athletics director) Scott Woodward has not called me yet.”

On how difficult it is for a coach to prepare his team with 19 players testing positive for COVID-19

“It’s very difficult, and then you don’t know how many more guys are going to get tested during the week. If you have an outbreak like that, maybe two or three more guys (test positive). You’ve got to look at the guys in quarantine. It’s very challenging.”

On LSU’s defensive changes

Some of its personnel changes, some of its just simplifying. (Florida head coach) Dan (Mullen) is a great gameday (play) caller, he’s going to make adjustments throughout the game. We’re going to have to make adjustments, but we have to make sure in our base defense we’re very sound and we eliminate the deep ball and stop the run. So, it’s just basic football that we have to start playing.

“Offenses in this league are difficult to stop. But that’s no excuse for missed assignments, missed tackles, not being physical. I’m just looking for us to play LSU defense. Be in right spot, put our face in the grass and make it hard for them to score instead of having people wide open down the field uncontested. Those are the things I worry about the most.”

On if he had any hint that LSU would have so many defensive issues early in the season

“It’s very surprising. It’s not the defense I saw in camp. The defensive I saw in camp was tight coverage, there was nobody open. There was pass rush, guys were causing turnovers. So, I’m very surprised the defense is playing so poorly right now.”

On the Saints possibly playing home games in Tiger Stadium

“I love it. It’s not my decision, but as far as me I like the Saints. Sean Payton was good to me (when Orgeron was a Saints defensive line coach in 2008), Mickey Loomis, Drew Brees. . .I’m a Who Dat fan, man, so bring ’em on to Baton Rouge, love to see them.”

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