There’s a lot to digest for Myles Brennan this spring, as he battles to become LSU’s starting quarterback.
He’s devouring a new playbook. He’s tasting that familiar flavor of competition under center. And he’s consuming six to seven calorie-packed meals a day, including three breakfast sandwiches and a shake before sunrise and a midnight snack after sunset.
“I’m on an insane meal plan,” he says. “I’m having to force food in my body which it obviously doesn’t want to take in, because it’s not used to it. I’m basically eating to the point where I basically have to throw up. It’s tough, but it’s going to pay off.”
What’s tougher for Brennan to stomach, though, is the memory of his shortcomings a season ago. Most would probably not consider his freshman season a bust. He did, after all, manage to beat out three other quarterbacks to emerge as LSU’s back up in his freshman season. He even got to throw 24 times, including his first career touchdown pass against Troy.
It’s the other pass from that game that leaves his stomach reeling, all these months later.
“I certainly remember Troy because it was my first interception,” Brennan said Tuesday, his first media appearance of the spring. “My eyes were in the wrong spot. They were supposed to be on the inside, throwing the dig. I went outside, and the flat defender went to the curl route. That’s a lot to learn, where your eyes are supposed to be on the coverages.
“I learn every day, and I’m moving forward from my mistakes.”
The only quarterback in the three-man race under center with a somewhat substantial sample size to work from, Brennan returns for his sophomore season as the favorite to replace two-year starter Danny Etling. He’s leaning on that game experience, however small – he completed 14-of-24 passes for 182 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions – to take the next step forward in year two.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable, playing a few games in Tiger Stadium and in this level, I can take a deep breath and relax,” Brennan said. “I’m getting better every day and I’m excited for this year.”
He’s also drawing on Etling’s experiences, too. Brennan and Etling roomed together for every game, and the protege picked up a few tricks from the vet. Brennan watched Etling’s pre-game rituals – including playing his Nintendo DS – and his studying of the game plans. Brennan doesn’t own a Nintendo DS, but he is picking up on other aspects of Etling’s prep and play.
“He never got salty that I was behind him or coming after his job,” Brennan said. “He was always there helping me learn. He was smart with the ball. He only had two interceptions, and he took what the defense gave him.”
When it’s time to eat, Brennan takes what the trainers give him – which is a lot of food. He’s up to 195 pounds from the 179 he arrived weighing last fall, but he’s still 15 pounds short of his target weight of 210. That means six to seven meals a day, with plenty of Cane’s and pizza.
But food isn’t the only thing Brennan is digesting this spring. He spends even more time cramming a new playbook under new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, which is a fresh start from the motion and shift-heavy concepts he learned under Matt Canada a year ago.
“It’s not much different,” he says. “As a quarterback, you have to know everything. You have to know the routes, the protections, where the blitz is coming from, the coverages. We’re taking out the motions and the shifts…I feel more comfortable. I feel like it fits my style a little better. I’m excited to see where it goes.”
The scrimmage stats back up the prevailing perception that Brennan is the leader under center, at the moment. In the two scrimmages LSU has released stats from, Brennan is 22-of-31 for 317 yards, 3 touchdowns and just 1 interception. Neither of the other two quarterbacks has completed more than 50 percent of his passes in either outing. If LSU really is going to a shorter, controlled passing game, as head coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger have indicated, it would appear Brennan is in control.
Even if that’s the case, Brennan says his focus is elsewhere. His competition isn’t necessarily the other players in the quarterback room. It’s to be a better quarterback than the one who took the field last season wearing No. 15 – and maybe put on a few more pounds.
“There’s a lot to learn, a lot to improve on,” he says. “The biggest thing is not forcing throws. If they’re going to give you the intermediate route, take it. You don’t need to hit a home run shot every play. Just erase the bad plays and move forward.”