ATK Roundup: QB Preview
This week’s ATK Roundup takes a look at the QB position for both teams:
The Tigers’ starter at QB from the last 2 years, Zach Mettenberger, is gone, likely selected in the first few rounds of next Thursday’s NFL Draft. Who will replace him on August 30th? A couple of young and dynamic quarterbacks are looking to fill the role. Here are the likely candidates:
Jennings made his debut in the Tigers’ Outback Bowl win over Iowa after playing sparingly during the season as Mettenberger’s backup. The freshman had a somewhat up and down performance in the bowl game, passing for 82 yards but adding a touchdown on the ground. However it was the Tigers’ defense and running game that carried LSU to the 21-14 win, as runningback Jeremy Hill rumbled for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns.
This spring, Jennings was pushed by incoming freshman and early enrollee Brandon Harris. He threw for 157 yards and a touchdown in the spring game, but also tossed two picks that were returned for touchdowns. Will Harris nipping at his heels, Jennings will need to continue to improve to keep the starting spot some assumed he already had locked down.
Harris, a 4 star recruit from Bossier City, signed with the Tigers last summer after spurning offers from Ohio State, Auburn and Texas A&M among others. After throwing for 3,172 yards and 34 touchdowns and adding another 1,000 yards on the ground in his senior year, the 6’3″ 186 pound dual threat graduated high school early and headed to Baton Rouge in January to get a head start on one of the more intriguing quarterback battles in the country.
In the spring game, Harris showed the elite athleticism that made him such a highly sought after recruit. He racked up 195 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while also adding 77 yards on the ground, including 41 on an electrifying scramble in the second quarter. It’s also being reported that Harris will be spending a month with famed QB guru George Whitfield this summer, following in the footsteps of former high profile QB’s like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel.
What they’re saying: “The competition brings out the best in everybody. He (Harris) pushed me to do better, and I pushed him to do better.” Jennings on the competition throughout the spring
Steady starter Joel Stave has led the Badgers for most of the last two seasons, but a JUCO transfer who spent most of last season playing safety and wide receiver is making a run at the starting job. Will he make his QB debut for the Badgers on August 30th?
Stave, who has 19 starts to his credit, was hampered by a nagging shoulder injury throughout the spring that prevented him from taking most of the first team reps and opened up a race that some weren’t sure was going to be open at the end of 2013. The 6’5″ sophomore had a solid, but not spectacular 2013 season, throwing for nearly 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns while the Badgers mostly relied on their exceptional running game under first year head coach Gary Anderson.
Stave sat out the spring game due to the shoulder injury and will need to shine leading into the 2014 opener against LSU to pull away from redshirt junior transfer Tanner McEvoy.
McEvoy, a 6’6″ transfer from Arizona Western College who began his career at South Carolina, spent most of 2013 at safety and wide receiver. Anderson switched him back to his original QB position in the spring and it immediately paid off for the Badgers. While first half stats weren’t officially kept in the Badgers’ spring game format, McEvoy played very well, connecting with Corey Clement & Kenzel Doe for a touchdown each and showing his athleticism with a 7 yard touchdown scramble.
Anderson has trended towards athletic quarterbacks in his previous stints, so it’s not surprising that McEvoy seems to be pushing Stave for the job despite the experience gap. The second year coach has hinted that there will be more QB designed run plays next season, which would fit much better with McEvoy’s skillset. This is another QB battle that will likely stretch right up to the Badgers debut in Houston.
What they’re saying: “There’s a lot of offense that you have with an athletic quarterback that we’ll have with an athletic quarterback that did not show itself today.” Badgers HC Gary Anderson
We’re keeping running list of people taking about how great our game is going to be, because we’re a pretty proud of how great our game is going to be. First up: Bleacher Report. Feel free send us more if you see them!