In 2020, I’d consider Myles Brennan’s path from 4-star recruit to starting quarterback an atypical one.

Rare now, it seems, that a blue chip recruit is willing to spend 3 years as a backup before finally taking over. Brennan’s journey has been well-documented. From his quest to add weight with 1,300-calorie breakfasts to his time dissecting LSU’s new offense backing up the Heisman Trophy winner in 2019, Brennan’s patience and persistence will be rewarded in 2020.

In the aftermath of LSU’s national championship was the new reality that Brennan’s time has finally come. Whether or not LSU maintains its place among the college football elite could fall on the growing shoulders of Brennan.

During a recent appearance on ESPN Radio 104.5 Baton Rouge, Ed Orgeron highlighted the redshirt junior’s dedication to stick it out.

“He has sat patiently… him and his family,” Orgeron said. “They have believed in LSU. I told them we believe in Myles. Now it’s his time. We believe that he is very talented but there are some things that he has to get better at but Joe had to get better his first year too and continue to grow. Like I said before, all we want is the best Myles Brennan and that’s going to be good enough for us.”

Orgeron will hold Brennan to a high standard. The question now is what those expectations should look like.

If we’re being honest, we should probably treat Joe Burrow’s season as an outlier as it relates to expectations for Brennan. Being judged against what I considered the best individual season in college football history isn’t fair to Brennan, or anyone really.

At the same time, expecting Brennan to play like Danny Etling or Brandon Harris is lowering the bar too much. It’s a different system and a much better time to be an LSU quarterback.

There’s a middle ground. We just have to find it.

Is a middle ground saying a successful Brennan season would include a second-team All-SEC honor at season’s end? I’d say that’s fair. Zach Mettenberger didn’t achieve that kind of success. Four LSU players in the 21st century were first- or second-team All-SEC quarterbacks — Burrow, Matt Mauck, JaMarcus Russell and Rohan Davey.

This might sound a bit crazy on the surface, and I’m not saying that they’re physical comps at all, but why can’t Brennan put up numbers that rival Russell’s 2006 season?

  • 3,129 passing yards
  • 67.8% accuracy
  • 9.1 yards per attempt
  • 28-8 TD-INT

(It’s amazing how much the sport has changed in a decade. Russell deserved all the praise he got as a college player, but in 2019, 9 players averaged more yards per attempt, 19 players threw at least 28 touchdown passes and 27 players had more passing yards.)

Again, that’s not my way of saying I believe Brennan is just as talented as one of the most gifted quarterbacks that college football saw in the 21st century. But in LSU’s system, which isn’t going to change even with the loss of Joe Brady, Brennan should be able to put up numbers that are at least comparable to that.

Despite all the talent LSU lost on offense, Brennan still gets to throw to the best receiver in college football in Ja’Marr Chase. And Terrace Marshall, who was seventh in FBS with 13 touchdown catches, is also back. In other words, Brennan still as at least 2 pass-catching options who can more than overshadow some of those early mistakes. Having an entire offseason to get reps with them will be pivotal. Ask Burrow about that.

Brennan also still has Steve Ensminger calling plays, which he did on first and second down last year. We should still expect some big windows for Brennan to throw the ball into. Will he have 24 tight-window touchdown passes like Burrow did last year (via PFF)? I wouldn’t count on that, but I would expect Brennan to make plenty of next-level throws like this:

Brennan looked really good throughout that spring game. It was evident then and now that he throws a pretty ball. His ability to spin it isn’t in question.

Our sample size of Brennan is still so limited. It’s hard to evaluate him on anything pre-2019 because obviously it was a different system. And in 2019, of course his snaps (and 40 pass attempts) basically all came in garbage time so take this with a grain of salt. We don’t know how he’s going to command the locker room, we don’t know how he’ll adjust when teams have more film on him and we don’t know how he’s physically going to hold up for an entire season.

But I’ll say this — he checks a lot of boxes at this point in his career. In addition to watching Burrow up close and getting a year to learn this offense, we’ve heard about Brennan’s maturation. The weight gain, which was up 30 pounds in December from the previous year, could be at the root of someone who is more confident in the pocket and more confident scrambling in the open field.

That’s 1 play, yes, but that’s telling. A willingness to stick his head in there and take some contact is huge. Burrow played without any fear. It allowed him to keep his eyes downfield and turn broken plays into long gains. That was especially evident in 2019 once he had that rapport with LSU’s receivers.

I tend to think Brennan, entering his fourth year, isn’t going to be overwhelmed by the speed. If anything, he’ll probably deal more with learning how to get rid of the ball after sitting too long in the pocket and taking a sack. That’s fixable.

Scott Linehan’s job will be to help in that area. The new LSU passing game coordinator is going to be tasked with developing a college quarterback for the first time in 20 years. We won’t really know how developed Brennan is until that Texas game in Week 2 (apologies to UTSA). Sure, the spring game and offseason headlines will let us know how he’s developing in practice, but how he flips that switch will determine how high he’ll fly in this offense.

As much of an outlier as Burrow was, there’s still reason to believe that LSU can start cranking out All-SEC quarterbacks. They’ll keep surrounding quarterbacks with 5-star weapons who will have more of a reason than ever to come play in LSU’s modern offense.

Brennan’s surroundings are favorable to be that guy in 2020. In a best-case scenario, he plays so well that he’s an obvious first-round NFL pick by season’s end. He puts up numbers that are at least in the same galaxy as Burrow’s, and the Tigers again find themselves in the Playoff. The worst-case scenario is that Brennan gets hurt early in the season and his durability becomes a bigger storyline than a potential breakout season.

My guess? Brennan comes closer to the best-case scenario.

Orgeron is betting on that, too.