Wisconsin has had an ongoing quarterback battle all fall camp, but last week word leaked that junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy would start for the Badgers against LSU. That was just one piece to the QB puzzle for the Advocare Texas Kickoff matchup against the Tigers though.
The other half was figuring out who LSU was going to start themselves. See, freshman Brandon Harris had been neck-and-neck with redshirt sophomore Anthony Jennings all camp long. Head coach Les Miles pulled a Gary Andersen and refused to publicly name a starter.
On Friday, sources have told Nola.com that the winner of that battle (at least for this week) was indeed Jennings. Apparently things were so close that it took all game week for LSU’s coaching staff to pick a winner.
The report indicates that Jennings only separated himself in practices over the last few days, but it was enough to give him the starting nod.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, as Jennings does have a distinct edge on the experience front. He played in nine games a redshirt freshman, starting in the Outback Bowl and leading the Bayou Bengals to a 21-14 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes.
For the season, Jennings completed just 44.8 percent of his passes for 181 yards and one touchdown to one interception. Admittedly it was a small sample size in the pass game, as Jennings threw only 29 passes in those nine games.
Most of the time, Jennings was brought in to be a running threat though. Last season he did have two rushing touchdowns on 19 carries.
Jennings’ most famous moment to date came as he engineered a 99-yard game-winning drive over rival Arkansas in the regular season finale, so he’s proven to be a quarterback who can play in the biggest of big moments.
However, Miles has indicated all along that regardless of the starter, he would be playing both quarterbacks in this game. It remains to be seen how that happens, or if that really does go down.
It’s honestly hard to see either coach switching up QB’s if this game is tight the whole way through. Nothing like messing up timing, rhythm and momentum to ruin a perfectly close game.
This decision likely doesn’t change much in the way Wisconsin will play on Saturday night, as both LSU quarterbacks have a very similar style of play. Both are mobile quarterbacks with above average arms, and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has likely devised a game plan around the style more than the individual at this point.
Besides, we all know this staff is great at halftime adjustments, so you can bet UW will be assessing Jennings all first half to make the necessary reads on his individual play.