LSU mulls over starting quarterback selection
Aug. 15, 2005
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles appears to have a desirable dilemma at quarterback.
The first-year coach has two former high school All-Americans with experience and a freshman touted as the best prep QB in the nation.
But whether JaMarcus Russell, Matt Flynn or Ryan Perrilloux can bring stability and consistency to the Tigers' offense is the big question for a team with legitimate national title aspirations.
"I think all three of them are very talented guys. I think JaMarcus has a very talented arm and he's getting more comfortable with the system," Miles said. "Matt Flynn, again, can throw the football well and maybe is a little bit better at scrambling in the pocket.
"The young quarterback (Perrilloux) we have has all the talent. He can throw the football and is getting comfortable with the system."
So who's going to start? Probably Russell, but Miles isn't ready to completely commit.
"All three are coming along," Miles said. "They'll continue to compete for that position."
Star quarterbacks have been a rarity at LSU. Before the recent run on topflight passers, LSU hadn't landed a top high school signal caller since 1994 when Josh Booty signed, only to leave for professional baseball.
They have had solid but rarely spectacular players at the position -- Matt Mauck being the best example from LSU's national championship team of two years ago.
Potentially, LSU could have a star at quarterback this season.
Russell was among the nation's top recruits in 2003, and Flynn was right there with him. Perrilloux, a Louisiana native, was a highly sought star who spurned Texas to sign with LSU.
Russell shared playing and starting with Marcus Randall last season -- he started four games -- showing flashes of talent, but not nearly enough consistency.
Russell threw for 1,053 and nine touchdowns, but completed just 50 percent of his throws as the Tigers went 9-3 last season.
"I think I'm 100 percent better this fall," said Russell, who entered the fall practices as No. 1. "I'm more comfortable. I feel like I see things better and I'm a better leader."
Perrilloux alienated Russell and Flynn when he signed before national media at East St. John High and proclaimed that he would throw for "maybe 2,000" yards, rush for "maybe 1,000" and "I could definitely be a Heisman winner next year, or at least a contender."
That brashness has been toned down considerable since Perrilloux arrived at LSU. He acknowledges he may have come off as cocky and maintains he's really a team player.
"I've never had competition for playing time before," Perrilloux said. "I feel like I'm at the bottom, and I'm just working my way up. It's better to just wait your turn than go out there and get thrown in the fire and get burnt. So I'd rather watch and listen, try to watch and imitate JaMarcus, and one day I might be the same kind of player he is."
Flynn was the No. 3 quarterback last season, playing in three games.
"I think I'm part of the competition," Flynn said. "Nothing's decided yet."
One thing Miles does not want is to be forced to use two quarterbacks as Nick Saban did last year. He would not rule out putting a backup in at times. He hopes that will be an option, however, not a necessity.
Miles doesn't need his quarterback to carry the offense.
Even with tailback Alley Broussard lost for the season with a knee injury, the Tigers are deep at running back, excellent along the offensive line and have good speed at receiver.
In the end, it won't be arm strength as much as game control that settles the quarterback question for Miles.
"They need to make sure they can read what the defense is giving them," Miles said. "They need to know which play is the right play and look at the play and make the right decision with the ball. If they do those things and have the ability to compete, they would take the job."