LSU coach Ed Orgeron anointed sophomore Max Johnson as the Tigers’ starting quarterback at the start of preseason training camp two weeks ago after senior Myles Brennan broke his left arm in a freak accident.
But so far, statistically, true freshman Garrett Nussmeier has outplayed Johnson in the first two scrimmages throwing for a combined 533 yards and six touchdowns compared to Johnson’s 252 yards and two TDs
In Saturday’s second preseason scrimmage in Tiger Stadium, Nussmeier completed 18 of 32 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson’s stats – 11 of 17 for 125 yards and one TD – were almost identical to his first scrimmage.
So why did Nussmeier attempt 15 more passes Saturday ?
“That’s just the way (new offensive coordinator) Jake (Peete) called it,” Orgeron said. “Max is on the first team and we’re trying to run the ball with the first team. It all depends on the way Jake calls it.
“He (Nussmeier) had some big plays. It might have been fourth-and-27, he threw a bomb for about 60 or 70 yards. He had some big plays down the field.
“Max is our starting quarterback. I have no problem if Max goes down (with injury) getting Garrett in the game. That doesn’t mean that Garrett can’t compete for the starting position.
“But right now, I feel good with Max as the starting quarterback and Garrett’s behind him. But I think Garrett is going to be great quarterback. . .dynamite.”
The scrimmage featured the 1s against the 1s and the 2s against the 2s in game-like situations with a two-minute drill to end the day. During special teams work, junior All-America placekicker Cade York hit a 54-yard field goal.
Orgeron said the offense played better than it did the first preseason scrimmage a week ago “because they scored some points,” he said.
But he noted the offensive line struggled again somewhat and the running game is still hurt by nagging injuries to juniors Ty Davis-Price and John Emery Jr.
Sophomore Josh Williams led all rushers with 66 yards and a TD on seven carries. True freshmen Armani Goodwin (25 yards on six carries) and Corey Kiner (15 yards on five attempts) added to the rushing attack that needs to quickly improve.
“These young running backs have been out there every day,” Orgeron said. “We need these guys (Davis-Price and Emery) to come out and perform and Tyrion and John have been off-and-on.
“I believe in them. They’re great backs, but we need some consistency out of both of them and we haven’t gotten it really at camp.”
Junior Devonta Lee, listed as a tight end, had five catches for 85 yards. Freshman Malik Nabers had four receptions for 79 yards and a TD while freshman Deion Smith had three catches for 67 yards and a TD.
Junior safety Jay Ward led the defense with eight tackles, freshman defensive tackle Maason Smith had three sacks and freshman end Xavier Carter had two.
Orgeron liked the fact his team “didn’t blink” playing temperatures with a heat index of 108 degrees.
LSU will begin putting in a game plan for Sept. 4 season opener at UCLA next week and will hold a dress rehearsal game in Tiger Stadium next Saturday.
It’s the same day UCLA opens its season at home vs. Hawaii.