BATON ROUGE – LSU’s offense is advanced to such a degree this season that a JV guy from Harvard could be its quarterback.
No kidding. Projected starting quarterback Andrew Hatch, who did not make the varsity at Harvard in 2005, finds himself among the shoulder pads of giants three years later.
“I was amazed at the speed and size of some of these guys when I first got here,” said Hatch, a sophomore who transferred to LSU before the 2007 season. “We have a lot of talent on offense. The quarterbacks just have to execute the offense, make good decisions and get the ball to those guys.”
They will not leave armed with Harvard Business School degrees, but several LSU players will be big earners in the real world of the NFL.
Protecting Hatch as well as rotating quarterbacks Jarrett Lee, a redshirt freshman, and Jordan Jefferson, a true freshman, will be a trio of returning starters destined for the NFL – junior left tackle Ciron Black, senior left guard Herman Johnson and senior center Brett Helms. There will be a budding star at right tackle in sophomore Joseph Barksdale with returning starter Lyle Hitt, a junior, at right guard.
Hatch and company will look to senior wide receiver Demetrius Byrd, another likely high round draft choice, for some of those big plays. Byrd led the 2007 national champions with 17.7 yards per reception and seven touchdown catches. He was third on the team with 35 catches for 621 yards, while junior Brandon LaFell was No. 2 with 50 receptions for 656 yards and four touchdowns. There is also tight end Richard Dickson, who was fourth on the team with 32 catches for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
“I like us rotating the quarterbacks and not picking one because all of them bring something different for the defense,” Byrd said. “We’re still going to make a lot of big plays even though the quarterbacks are young.”
But most of the time, the trio will likely be handing the ball or pitching it to tailbacks Charles Scott, Richard Murphy, Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday – a foursome that accounted for 1,396 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for the No. 2 rushing attack in the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers return most of the unit that finished No. 2 in scoring (38.6 points a game) in the SEC last season.
“We’ve got so much talent surrounding the quarterback, it’s going to be hard for them to lose a game,” said defensive end Tyson Jackson, who is in his fifth year of going against LSU offenses. “And with the coaching staff we have, we can make adjustments throughout the game and put our quarterbacks in the best position possible. We’ll be fine.
“Our offense is capable of making plays anywhere on the field. Charles Scott is a big pounder. He’s going to bruise your defense up. He’s about 235 pounds, and he’s going to run forward and through you. Keiland Williams is more of a finesse guy. He’s going to dance around the field and make plays. Richard Murphy – that guy’s a speedster. He reminds a lot of people of Reggie Bush, and he’s going to make plays all over the field.”
The fullback will be fifth-year senior and returning starter Quinn Johnson.