Shortly after his team reported for camp on Sunday afternoon, LSU coach Les Miles said he will not set a deadline for when his staff must pick the starter for the Aug. 30 opener against Wisconsin.
“I never have, never will,” Miles said. “We’ll have to see each day, how they proceed, how things go.”
The competition between sophomore Jennings and freshman Harris started in the spring, shortly after Harris arrived on campus as an early enrollee. Jennings has a slight experience edge, having played as Zach Mettenberger's backup in 2013, but Harris clearly outperformed him during the Tigers’ spring game.
However, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said at the time that he was in no rush to establish a quarterback pecking order -- and Miles said on Sunday that their abilities to make big plays, and avoid devastating ones, will factor heavily into the decision.
“I think maturity’s the whole deal. I think it’s the deal for both of them. I think recognizing the style of throw and the kind of play and seeing them understand what we’re trying to get accomplished, how we’re attacking a defense,” Miles said, “I think that is something that both guys have a good, solid base premise, but it’s going to be that time in the game where you have the opportunity to extend the play and make a play and their self-interpretation at some point in time will be, in my opinion, the criteria by which you pick the starter.”
For the first four practice days, the Tigers will split into two groups -- one that works out in the morning and one that practices in the afternoon. He said the quarterbacks will rotate between the two groups.
“We’ll give both guys an opportunity at helmet practices and shells [shoulder pads] practices with the first and/or the second center,” Miles said.
Valentine, a four-star defensive tackle prospect, has not yet been academically cleared to enroll at LSU, but Miles hopes a resolution will come soon.
“The high school and the [NCAA] clearinghouse have to communicate,” Miles said. “I think they’re doing that, I think they’re trying, so sometimes there’s easy answers and sometimes there’s not. Hopefully this will be an easy answer.”
Starting safety Mills remains indefinitely suspended following an offseason arrest, and his legal case has not yet been settled. Miles said “I don’t know what’s going on” with where Mills’ case stands, “so I’ll just go forward.”
“I really don’t know. I have not tried to, nor do I intend to pressure the process in any way. ... Jalen Mills, everybody in this room has a responsibility to handle his business and this is his business,” Miles said.