Joe Burrow has been through this whole spring football thing a few times before, but never quite like this.
In his previous three springs, all at Ohio State, Burrow was battling for either the starting quarterback job or to be the backup. That’s no longer the case.
Now Burrow is firmly entrenched as LSU’s QB1 coming off a 10-3 season, which frees him up to worry about his own game as opposed to jockeying for position on the depth chart,
“You always focus on getting better as a player, but I don’t have to worry about playing better than the other guy,” Burrow said. “I can focus on being a leader, trying to get better at making explosive plays; things like that instead of playing better than that guy.”
Burrow underwent a procedure on his left arm following the Fiesta Bowl, but the senior insists it hasn’t limited him at all this spring. He practices in a yellow non-contact jersey, but that’s standard operating procedure for LSU quarterbacks most of the time anyway.
As far as team work goes, Burrow has taken all of his prescribed reps. He had to learn Steve Ensminger’s offense on the fly upon transferring to LSU last year, and he doesn’t want to fall behind on any of the new wrinkles being installed by passing game coordinator Joe Brady.
Brady has a reputation of being an expert on the run-pass option, which Burrow confirmed has been a focal point this spring.
“He was at Penn State, so he’s bringing in some stuff he got from Penn State,” Burrow said. “He’s bringing in some stuff he got from the Saints, and we’re kind of mixing it all in to what we have now. Spring is a time for creative innovation, and we’re in that process right now of seeing who we’re going to be.”
He continued: “I really like our new offense. You guys are really going to like where we’re going. Unfortunately, you can’t see it for eight months.”
While Brady and his modern spread concepts will be the sexy storyline of the spring, Burrow seemed equally focused on working on himself as a leader.
The offseason represents an opportunity to build greater reports with teammates he’d never met at this time last year.
Burrow completed 57.8 percent of his passes last season with 16 touchdowns against five interceptions. He did it with a receiving corps that he’d never thrown to before last summer.
Aside from Foster Moreau and Nick Brossette, who both graduated, LSU’s entire crew of pass catchers will be back this season. Burrow will have eight weapons back next season who caught at least 10 passes in 2018.
“They were all freshmen and sophomores last year, and when you have that much inexperience, there’s going to be some growing pains,” Burrow said. “Those young guys are making big strides, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they’re going to go.”
By his own admission, Burrow wasn’t much of a talker when he first arrived on campus. He felt it best to earn the trust of his teammates by example, whether that meant organizing throwing sessions with receivers during the summer or working his butt off during conditioning drills.
“I’m definitely being more vocal than when I first got here,” Burrow said. “It doesn’t really feel any different. I’ve just been here a year and I’m more familiar with everybody. It feels like I’m just one of the guys now. I don’t even think about it anymore. I’m just here now.”