Maybe LSU’s Brandon Harris is ready to take off -- Harris certainly believes he is, and won’t hesitate to tell you about it -- but skeptics need to see consistency from the junior before becoming believers themselves.
Getting more out of the quarterback position would be a major boon for LSU, which has NFL-caliber weapons at receiver and arguably the nation’s best running back in Leonard Fournette.
Here’s how things are shaping up at quarterback for the Tigers:
2015 in review: Harris snatched the starting position away from Anthony Jennings prior to last season and held onto the job throughout the fall. He was solid in SEC play in the first half of the season, but faded badly down the stretch. Harris finished the season 149-for-277 (53.8 percent) for 13 touchdowns and six interceptions, capped by an outstanding performance in the Tigers’ bowl win over Texas Tech (14-23, 261 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, plus a 26-yard TD run).
What’s the buzz?: “He continues to improve. He understands the offense, has much more poise, has put people in position. He’s acting like a quarterback should act.” – Coach Les Miles on Harris’ development
Key weapons: LSU’s backfield is loaded, with Fournette (1,953 rushing yards, 22 TDs) and Derrius Guice (436 yards, 8.5 yards per carry) leading the way. And the receivers should be solid with Malachi Dupre (43 catches, 698 yards, 6 TDs) and Travin Dural (28-533, 3 TDs) back along with a multitude of talented-but-unproven wideouts like D.J. Chark, Jazz Ferguson and freshmen Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis.
What to watch: Harris has a boatload of ability, but needs to improve his completion percentage for LSU’s offense to click against the Tigers’ better opponents. Blessed with a strong throwing arm, Harris already tosses a dangerous deep ball. Keep an eye on his accuracy on short and intermediate passes. If he can complete those passes more consistently, watch out.
Next in line: Transfer Danny Etling (238-for-429, 2,490 yards, 16 TDs, 12 INTs over two seasons at Purdue) gives LSU an experienced alternative to Harris, and the Tigers also have redshirt freshman Justin McMillan and true freshman Lindsey Scott behind the veteran duo.
Grade: C-plus. The grade here could be much higher by season’s end. Harris is plenty talented, but has only flashed it in spurts. Perhaps he will take a big step forward in his second season as the starter. Should Harris hold onto the job all season, this will be the first time since 2012-13 with Zach Mettenberger that LSU has had the same starting quarterback for two straight years.