Role of freshman backup quarterback remains unclear for season opener
The topic of internally disciplined, soon-to-be-withheld-an-undisclosed-amount-from-play running back Jeremy Hill isn’t the only one that sends LSU coach Les Miles reaching for his tap shoes.
Miles is equally vague about his plans for backup quarterback Anthony Jennings.
In Hill’s case, Miles is noncommittal about whether further disciple for breaking probation will include benching the leading rusher from last year’s team for Saturday’s season opener against TCU.
In Jennings’ case, Miles is noncommittal about whether Jennings, a freshman dual threat, might get into the game as a complement to the pocket-passing Mettenberger.
“He brings something different for the offense than me with my five-flat 40 (time) can’t do,” Mettenberger said self-deprecatingly.
Though Mettenberger, like Jennings, is a native of Georgia, he demonstrated a historical perspective on Miles using dual quarterbacks. Mettenberger was the third-string quarterback two years ago, during the final season in which Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee shared the snaps fairly equally.
But Mettenberger said Jennings’ role — if he plays be design — would be more like that employed during the 2007 season when Ryan Perrilloux spelled Matt Flynn as a change of pace.
“(He is) a very different pace (from Mettenberger),” guard Trai Turner said. “You have to worry about him on his feet as well as his throwing ability. He’s really good — one of the best freshmen I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Miles said Jennings, who enrolled early, went through spring practice and passed up sophomore Stephen Rivers on the depth chart during preseason camp, is further along than other true freshman quarterbacks who have competed for playing time with the Tigers.
“I think you would find that Anthony Jennings would be suited to understand the offense pretty well, and we’d expect that if he goes into the game that he could execute anything that we asked him to do,” Miles said. “I see him more so as a guy that would come in maybe if needed to.
“But we like Zach, and we kind of see Zach taking the majority of the snaps, and certainly I don’t know that there’s any quotient that Anthony Jennings is going in the game. But it’s always nice to have a very quality quarterback in a position to go in and take snaps.”
Phillips sees faster Hilliard
Regardless of whether Hill plays, Alfred Blue will be the starting running back and Kenny Hilliard will see significant time.
Linebacker Lorenzo Phillips, who was a teammate of Hilliard’s at Patterson High School, said he can see a difference in Hilliard, who’s about 10 pounds lighter this season.
“He has toned up,” Phillips said, “and he’s definitely faster.”
Phillips, who was a year behind Hilliard in high school, remembered a practice day when the coaching staff was looking at players at different positions. Hilliard lined up at fullback and Phillips at halfback.
“It lasted for about a day,” Phillips said with a laugh. “I wasn’t a running back at all. They saw I couldn’t really move like Kenny could.”
So Phillips went back to developing as a linebacker, and Hilliard went on to become the leading rusher in Louisiana high school history.
Mills knows AT&T Stadium
Walking into palatial AT&T Stadium, where LSU and TCU will play Saturday night, can be a jaw-dropping experience for a first-time visitor.
Cornerback Jalen Mills, a Dallas native, remembers playing the first game of his senior season at DeSoto High School in what was then known as Cowboys Stadium and features a 72-foot by 160-foot overhead vide screen.
“I had jitters,” Mills said. “I’m not going to lie to you — I was nervous. As soon as you walk in, you look up, and you’re hoping to see yourself run out of the tunnel.
“Playing football in a place like that is heart-pounding, but once you get that first tackle or your first pass breakup out of the way, you’re OK after that.”
Mills settled down pretty quickly as DeSoto whipped Douglass (Okla.) High School 63-0.
Advocate on the road
Traveling to watch the Cowboys Classic doesn’t mean being without a copy of the newspaper.
Saturday’s edition of The Advocate will be available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the following locations, courtesy of Manda: the Omni Fort Worth (LSU team hotel), Worthington Renaissance (Fort Worth), Marriott DFW Airport South (Fort Worth), the Warwick Melrose (Dallas), The Joule (Dallas) and the Ritz-Carlton (Dallas).