- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quarterback is obviously the most important position group at LSU this season. No question about that.
The Tigers’ ability to find an answer at the position also ranks among the biggest issues in all of FBS football because it might mean the difference between LSU being a contender or a pretender.
Look around the roster. Sure, questions linger at a couple of positions because of inexperience (defensive end) or depth (linebacker). And some intrigue surrounds new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele as he takes the reins from old friend John Chavis. But there is depth and talent at every offensive position, and the defense has more than enough firepower to once again rank among the SEC’s best.
LSU should contend in the SEC West and could conceivably challenge for conference titles and College Football Playoff spots if -- and this is a gigantic if -- the quarterbacks turn things in the right direction.
Last season was simply not good enough. Jennings and Harris readily admit it. Harris has said he was not ready to be an SEC starting quarterback as a true freshman, and that prevented him from truly challenging sophomore starter Jennings.
However, Harris might now be the frontrunner for the job since Jennings has missed many of the team’s organized summer workouts following an offseason arrest that resulted in his temporary suspension. He’ll be back, but this was a neck-and-neck race at the end of spring practice and Jennings’ absence had to help Harris’ cause.
Not that Jennings’ performance as the 2014 starter was reason for much confidence, either. He started 12 of 13 games, completing just 48.9 percent of his passes for 1,611 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Individually, Jennings ranked 106th nationally with an average of 123.9 passing yards per game. Collectively, LSU ranked last in the SEC and 114th in the FBS with an average of 162.9 ypg.
LSU doesn’t need its quarterback to lead the nation in passing -- with Leonard Fournette back to lead a productive running game, that won’t be necessary -- but the Tigers absolutely need more efficiency from the position. They need third-down completions and at least the threat of a passing game that can stretch the field, allowing Fournette and the running game to thrive.
If they get that, watch out for LSU. If they don’t, the Tigers can forget about the playoff and, much like last season, contending in the West might even be a hill that proves too difficult to climb.
6dSam Khan Jr.