Two days in and Anthony Jennings is already exhausting LSU’s starting defense.
Players had their first media interviews since Jennings’ 99-yard game-winning drive against Arkansas nearly three weeks ago, and the true freshman quarterback stole this show as well.
He was the topic of discussion – to no surprise.
Jennings completed his first two practices as LSU’s starting quarterback Monday and Tuesday, replacing the injured Zach Mettenberger. Players gave their take on the elusive, dual-threat passer from Georgia.
We’ve got the nuggets – golden ones – below:
- First off: Yes, LSU’s offense – at least in practice – does look different with Jennings at the helm, players say. LSU is running more read-option and option plays with the speedy Jennings at QB. In fact, he already made a few defenders look silly, DT Anthony Johnson said. The Tigers went starters vs. starters Monday and Tuesday. “He ran the option and we were in our two-minute drill and he ran for like 20 yards untouched,” Johnson said.
- So while coach Les Miles says the Tigers offense won’t change, it appears it will include a few more plays they didn’t run with the immobile the Mettenberger taking snaps: “They can put in a couple more things,” Johnson said. “Read-option. Read-pass. More play-action because he’s such more of a threat. Anthony Jennings allows us to open up the playbook a little more.”
- For receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Jennings throwing passes means adjusting to a different balls. Mettenberger’s passes were noticeably on the mark. After all, the QB was projected as a first or second NFL draft pick before the injury. “It’s not something that’s easy when you’re used to having these balls right there in front of your face and now you have them in different spots,” Beckham said.
- It’s more than just accuracy, said Beckham. Jennings’ release and his velocity are much different than Mettenberger’s. “Zach has probably the strongest arm in the nation and throws one of the tightest balls I’ve ever seen. He’s throwing the ball and it’s coming in, the for the most part, a perfect spiral every single time,” Beckham said. “Anthony has a little bit bigger hands so he’s throwing it and it doesn’t have the same release, not coming in with the same velocity.”
- Clearly, there are some timing issues with Jennings and his group of receivers. That’s to be expected. LSU has 10 more bowl practices before playing Iowa, though. Landry believes it can be rectified. “We’ve got to get a few timing things down. That just comes with time. If we can do that, we’ll be fine,” he said.
- More from Landry on Jennings and that timing and how it’s different from Mettenberger: “He has a little more anticipation,” Landry said. “He throws the ball a little sooner. His release is a little different. For receivers, for us, all year we’ve been turning around looking at a 6-5 guy. Now we turn around looking at a 6-1 guy. We’ve got to find his launch point. He throws the ball so early sometimes that you can’t pick it up out of his hands. You’ve really got to snap your head around and make some catches.”
- In the huddle, Beckham said Jennings has the typical “wide” and “big” eyes of a true freshman, but that fades. “It’s going to take him a few plays to get into the game, but after that I think he’ll be rolling,” Beckham said.
- Johnson said Jennings looked “poised” in practice. “He doesn’t get rattled. Poise. Making the right decisions. He’s going to be a good player,” Johnson said.
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