It’s time for LSU coach Les Miles to give former Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris some significant playing time.
The Tigers have two regular-season games left, Saturday at Arkansas and Thanksgiving Day at Texas A&M.
After last Saturday’s gut-wrenching 17-10 overtime loss to Alabama, all that’s at stake for the Tigers (7-3, 3-3 SEC) now is a berth in a second-tier bowl game.
Going into the Alabama game, LSU still had an outside shot at the SEC championship based on tie-breakers and depending on how other contending teams in the SEC West fared.
Because the Tigers allowed Alabama to drive for a game-tying field goal in the final 50 seconds, that’s out the window.
Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings completed eight of 26 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Admittedly, his receivers didn’t help him by dropping passes. The biggest one was on first down in overtime, a swing pass that Melvin Jones might have scored on.
Jennings has also come through in the clutch for the Tigers. LSU’s formula of wearing down teams with their big offensive line and powerful running attack has undoubtedly won them a lot of games.
But I just don’t think the Tigers can win SEC and national championships, which fans expect now, without a consistent passing game.
I admit I’m biased toward Harris.
I watched him play from the time he was the quarterback for the Parkway freshman team until he was one of the most sought-after players in the country after his junior season.
I watched him lead Parkway to the Class 5A championship game last season. During that time, I got to know him a little. He’s a very likable young man.
So of course I want to see him play and succeed.
Harris has seen significant playing time in three games this season.
He almost led the Tigers to a miracle comeback against No. 1 Mississippi State on Sept. 20, throwing two late touchdown passes. Then he came off the bench and led the team to a 63-7 victory over New Mexico State on Sept. 27.
Because of his play in that game, he got his first start at Auburn the next week. It was a pressure-packed situation against a team that finished as the national runner-up last season.
Things did not go well. Harris said he played “terrible” in the 41-7 loss.
Jennings has been the starter ever since, and Harris has seen very little action.
I’m not saying Harris should start. I just think he should get to play at least a few series, maybe even a quarter, in each half when there is pressure and the game is on the line to see what he can do.
The Tigers have a strong stable of running backs, including freshman Leonard Fournette, but they need a passing game to take some of the pressure off.
I believe Harris has the potential to be the quarterback LSU needs to diversify its offense. He can run and throw.
But for that potential to be realized, he needs to get another chance to show what he can do.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org