Examining which LSU QB has the edge as Brian Kelly sets the stage for a high-profile fall camp battle

Brian Kelly is entering his first season as head coach at LSU, and he has to resolve one of the most intriguing quarterback battles in the country before he takes the field this fall. Veteran Myles Brennan, Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels and redshirt rookie Garrett Nussmeier are vying for the top spot on the depth chart this offseason, and the battle is far from over.

Kelly set up the basics in spring practice, but will tweak the offense as needed once fall training begins.

“We needed to put in a new offense. That offense really needed to take precedence over tailoring it to any particular quarterback,” he said in an interview with Fox 8 in New Orleans. “The reality is that everyone has a different skill set. So what’s going to happen now as we go into camp is the real work begins because we’re going to need to tailor the offense to each of their skill sets. So, the separation will take place at preseason camp.

However, what does that really mean? Kelly has typically used a quarterback who primarily deals damage through the air but is mobile enough to get 300 or 400 yards a season on the ground including catching yards. However, it doesn’t seem like he’s married to that style at LSU based on his comments.

Let’s break down how each candidate might fit into Kelly’s first offense in Baton Rouge.

Jayden Daniels

arizona state

29

6,025

32

13

1,288

13

Myles Brennan

LSU

18

1,712

13

6

-one

0

Garrett Nussmeier

LSU

4

329

two

two

-46

0

Jayden Daniels

The senior was a three-year starter at Arizona State, and while he hasn’t had a shot at purple and gold, he is by far the most experienced of the bunch. He threw for 6,025 yards and 32 touchdowns in 29 games with the Sun Devils and added 1,288 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns during those three seasons. His ability to emphasize defenses in a variety of ways fits right in with what Kelly normally demands out of the position. After all, he lured Daniels to Baton Rouge for a reason.

However, there is a downside to Daniels’ resume. Her passer rating has dropped in each of her three seasons, including a 136.19 mark last year, seventh in the Pac-12. She threw for as many touchdowns as interceptions last season (10) and her average yards per attempt dropped each year from 2019-21. To put it more simply, she has regressed. That probably played a big role in Daniels’ decision to enter the portal in an attempt to boost her career.

Myles Brennan

Brennan was handpicked by former coach Ed Orgeron to replace Joe Burrow, and he did well through the first month of the 2020 season. He threw for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first three games while only throwing three interceptions. He tore abdominal muscles and ligaments midway through the third game of the season against Missouri, and his season ended before Week 4. He led the Tigers in passing in 2020 even though he only played in those first three games.

Brennan entered the final offseason battling Max Johnson, but a shoulder injury ended that battle before fall camp. Johnson transferred, which might have made Brennan tempted to return, but he entered the trade portal in November before Kelly lured him back to Baton Rouge.

His ability to stretch the field and find receivers on the field makes him an important weapon. But if Kelly is trying to match his offense to his quarterback, the offensive line will play a big role. Cam Wire is the only lineman to return with significant early experience, which could leave Kelly’s quarterback running for his life. Brennan has a grand total of -1 career rushing yards from him since the start of the 2017 season, so the offensive line will probably have to come together for Brennan to have a legitimate chance.

Garrett Nussmeier

Nussmeier could be considered the third wheel in this race, but don’t count out the redshirt freshman. He got four games of experience last season, including against then-No. 21 Arkansas when he was 18 of 31 for 179 yards and a touchdown. He, like Brennan, isn’t exactly a threat on the ground, which will certainly leave a hole in his résumé.

That said, Kelly is clearly a fan of Nussmeier’s perks.

“He has ‘fitting in a phone booth’ shots as well as anyone I’ve ever been with,” Kelly said, via 247Sports. “He has the structure of a great quarterback. But there’s been this development, technically, that has been, I think, from my perspective, nice to see as we go into the spring. And yeah, he’s doing a really good job.” . .”

That quote suggests that Kelly believes Nussmeier has what it takes to win the job at fall camp despite his relative inexperience. Spring practice provided more of a draft for the offense, and Nussmeier was able to impress Kelly in a big way during those 15 outings.

Who has the advantage?

Daniels has to be considered the favorite heading into fall camp. He was Kelly’s target, he has all the attributes Kelly has normally valued in a quarterback and he is the most experienced of the trio. LSU has big questions along the offensive line, so having someone other than a statue take plays will at least minimize the impact if Kelly can’t stabilize things in the trenches.

That said, don’t rule out the other candidates. I would give Nussmeier the advantage over the other two players because of his advantage and the fact that his career doesn’t suggest he’s as much at risk of injury as Brennan. Kelly has to have consistency under center because a musical quarterback game won’t do anyone any good.

Whatever happens, the LSU quarterback battle will be one of the most dominant stories to watch this fall.

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