They’re pretty much dead even.
That’s just about all Ed Orgeron will tell you these days in regards to LSU’s three-headed quarterback competition, which is expected to rage on through the spring and into preseason camp.
The LSU coach has bent over backward to publicly project a level playing field. Ask about the presumptive favorite, sophomore Myles Brennan, and Orgeron will immediately sing the praises of his two challengers, junior Justin McMillan and redshirt-freshman Lowell Narcisse.
There’s still reasons to assume Brennan will ultimately be the guy under center. He beat out McMillan and Narcisse last fall for the backup job behind Danny Etling, though Orgeron called the competition “very close” at the time. Orgeron has also called him a “pure passer” in the past, which seems to fit the controlled, pass-heavy offense that’s presently being implemented by new coordinator Steve Ensminger.
And for what it’s worth, Brennan has taken the first reps in individual drills during the media viewing portions of LSU practice. McMillan and Narcisse, in that order, have followed, though there’s been some occasional flip-flopping.
Still, through two weeks of spring practice, Orgeron insists LSU is nowhere near close to deciding on a No. 1 quarterback.
“Nobody has stood out one way or the other,” the coach said last week.
Teammates have been a bit more forthcoming when it comes to the three quarterbacks, though none have contradicted their coach’s party line of the competition being a dead heat without a leader up to this point.
Senior tight end Foster Moreau parroted Orgeron’s words — “I’d say dead even” — but was at least willing to share some thoughts on the respective strengths of each signal caller. It’s all a bit subjective, but his opinion is more insightful than 20 minutes of watching quarterbacks throw against air.
“Myles has a really good, really sharp bullet pass that’s extremely accurate,” Moreau said. “Justin is a really confident guy. He exhibits a lot of confidence in the pocket, a lot of confidence in himself and his teammates, because he knows people a lot better than people know themselves. It’s funny, sitting down and talking to him. He’s a really bright guy. Lowell’s got great presence. He’s also got some of Justin’s confidence. They’re all three confident in their own ways. It’s funny to see how they all joke with each other, how they get along with other people. Justin can throw the ball. He’s got a cannon, but he can also scramble a little bit. Myles has a really sharp eye. Lowell’s got beautiful touch on the ball. He’s got really pretty touch on an outside shoulder 9 route.”
He continued: “They all have great work ethic, and it’s a great competition. We have three great, talented quarterbacks, which is why it is a competition. If one of them was easily better than the other, we would probably say, ‘Okay, you’re the starting quarterback, you guys go take it from him.’ But it’s an open competition because they’re all such great players.”
Defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko likened the competition to one he saw during his time at Texas Tech between Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield. Two of the three are already in the NFL while the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will be there soon enough.
“When I see this three quarterback competition, I see them every day, they’re slinging the ball,” Fehoko said. “It amazes me, because all of them are on the dime, every day. Lowell, he’s such an athlete, he can make plays. Justin McMillan’s the same way. He’s a grown up, he’s a leader. He knows what defenses we’re bringing, and he knows how to dissect what our secondary’s doing. And of course, Myles, Myles is a gunslinger. He’s got a cannon of an arm.”
That’s awfully high praise for a trio of quarterbacks who own a grand total of 25 career passes attempted and one touchdown — Brennan’s in an ill-fated comeback bid against Troy — between them, but Fehoko doubled down when asked if he was serious.
“I think the talent level reminds me of (Texas Tech),” the transfer insisted. “The talent level we have in the quarterback room, I think it’s overlooked. I think a lot of people overlook the fact that we have three quarterbacks who can play at the SEC level.”
Is that the truth or just lip service to keep whoever doesn’t win the job from transferring this summer? Orgeron himself has conceded that LSU is concerned about its depth at the position and may explore adding a graduate transfer, depending on how the spring shakes out.
That’s a question that only time will answer.