Sept. 6, 2004 wire reports

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell both struggled to move LSU's offense against Oregon State last weekend.

They changed places four times and between them managed to generate just enough points for an overtime victory.

That was enough to keep both of them in the plans for No. 6 LSU's game against Arkansas State on Saturday, coach Nick Saban said.

"I think it's a tribute to both guys that they went in and out of the game in the second half, and both ended up making plays that contributed to the success that we had coming back in the game," Saban said of the 22-21 win. "So, I think that it would be safe to say that we'll probably end up playing two quarterbacks."

Randall, a fifth-year senior whose experience came when he stepped in for an injured Matt Mauck for half the 2002 season, was supposed to have locked up the job. But he had problems in the opener, including seeing a touchdown erased by a penalty.

At halftime, Russell, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, was sent in. Based on history, Saban said, they had found it best when Randall was struggling to take him out and let him settle down.

Russell had his own problems, but he also threw two touchdown passes to tie the game.

Then in overtime, Russell had cramps and had to leave the game. So Randall stepped in again and ran for a touchdown that proved to be the game winner.

"I'm not sure that I'm ready to say who's going to start the game," Saban said. "But I'm not sure that that's really the issue here. I think the issue is that we need better execution at the quarterback position. We want both guys to continue to improve, we need both guys to continue to improve and we're going to work both guys so that they can improve and give them both an opportunity to most likely play in this game."

After watching the game film, Saban said there was no lack of effort or letdown even though the Tigers trailed until the final two minutes. There was a lack of execution at every position, however.

"We looked like seals running around on dry land out there," Saban said.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved