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Take Two: Is LSU finally ready to start developing QBs?

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow (Jesse Johnson)

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling an issue in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and an expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites or a regional analyst.

MORE: SEC tops in producing NFL Draft picks

THE STORYLINE

LSU can recruit running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen. The Tigers are one of the best teams nationally when it comes to developing defensive players, especially defensive backs.

But when it comes to quarterbacks, the SEC powerhouse has not figured out the magical formula yet and it might be what’s holding LSU back from taking that next step to national dominance.

Only one LSU quarterback since 2010 has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season and that was Zach Mettenberger in 2013 with 3,082. Five times in the last nine years, the Tigers have averaged fewer than 30 points per game, and LSU has not won a conference title since 2011.

In Rivals history dating back to 2002, LSU has signed two five-star quarterbacks in Russell Shepard and Ryan Perrilloux and 12 four-star quarterbacks, but the Tigers have never been a juggernaut throwing the ball all over the field. There are 48 players from LSU in the NFL and the only quarterback is Danny Etling, who came to LSU after transferring from Purdue. Shepard is in the pros but he’s converted to receiver.

It’s not necessarily the case that LSU needs to throw the ball more to win. But with so many elite receivers throughout the years – and now again the Tigers are loading up in the 2020 class with five-star Rakim Jarrett and four-stars Kayshon Boutte and Jermaine Burton so far – it could give LSU that added punch on offense.

The defense is going to play well. The question is always whether the offense can score enough to beat Alabama, win the conference and be in the playoff hunt.

LSU has two quarterbacks committed in this class in four-stars Max Johnson and T.J. Finley and coach Ed Orgeron loves working with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. Can LSU start developing quarterbacks better to compete more on a national scale?

FIRST TAKE: Jerit Roser, TigerDetails.com

“Almost every LSU season for more than a decade now has seemed to start with: Will the quarterback and offensive play-calling be good enough for yet another talented team to compete for the national championship?

LSU enters the 2019 season confident in its direction in those regards following a strong bowl performance by returning starter Joe Burrow and the offseason staff addition of former Saints assistant Joe Brady.

“And Orgeron and his staff continue to piece together an impressive 2020 class, including the most recent additions of Jarrett and Antoine Sampah. The foundation the Tigers are building for the future only further spotlights the quarterback position. They feel good about current commitments Finley and Johnson, while continuing to monitor other top passers.

"So there are reasons for optimism from both coaching and personnel standpoints. But the storyline is so deeply ingrained that any optimism will remain cautious at best until proven otherwise.”

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SECOND TAKE: Mike Farrell, Rivals.com

“They recruit four-star quarterbacks just like every other power program, but LSU just hasn’t developed them. I’m not sure if that’s going to change. They have a four-star on the roster in Myles Brennan, they have two four-stars in this class already, so it’s not like they’re not recruiting at a high level at the quarterback position. They’re just not producing very good quarterbacks.

“People always say it’s about the offense because they run a pro-style offense and they run the ball so much, but Stanford did that with Andrew Luck and he emerged, and K.J. Costello is doing well there. You can’t really hang your hat on that. Georgia has a pro-style offense and Jake Fromm has done well. It comes down to coaching. I’ve been asked that question every year for probably 15 years so until they can produce a quarterback who can win big games and lead them from behind, I won’t believe it until then.”