I'm high on LSU QB Joe Burrow, but I'm not high on his Week 1 outlook vs. Miami
I can already see the tweets coming in now.
“Remember that time LSU fans thought they had a quarterback? Lol.”
“Joe Burrow (trash emoji).”
“This was the guy that LSU was all excited about?!?!”
New LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will be the subject of those tweets Sunday night when the Tigers are deadlocked in a defensive struggle against No. 8 Miami. Many will claim that it’s the same old LSU, where quarterbacks go to disappoint.
It’ll deflate the offseason hype surrounding Burrow, which seems to have reached new levels following the announcement of the worst-kept secret in Baton Rouge that he will indeed get the start in Week 1 in Arlington, Texas.
If that happens, I suggest you head to Twitter and use the underrated “mute” function for “Joe Burrow.” Why? It’s not that hearing about the LSU quarterback is such a nuisance. It’s the conclusions that’ll be jumped to from one Sunday night game — all eyes will be on Jerry World — in which Burrow is making is first college start against one of the nation’s top defenses.
Here’s a take that’s actually worth listening to — it’s OK to think that Burrow will struggle in the opener, while also thinking he’ll turn out to be a pretty good quarterback.
This won’t be an ideal way for Burrow to kick things off at LSU. Someone who arrived on campus this summer will open his career as the only college game on national television against a defense that led all Power 5 teams in takeaways last year. There’s a reason we saw this so much in 2017:
— The Ms T (e1Ri) (@6OnTheWay) August 23, 2018
Miami returns 70 percent of its defensive production from its burst-onto-the-scene 2017 squad. That includes the likes of preseason All-American safety Jaquan Jackson, as well as a pair of preseason All-ACC picks in cornerback Michael Jackson and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman.
It’s because of that defensive foundation that Miami will begin the 2018 season as the No. 8 team in the Associated Press Top 25, and the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division.
In other words, yeah, Miami obviously isn’t Austin Peay.
It would have been nice for Burrow to get his confidence up with an easy opener like that. Even though he has 3 years of college experience and Ohio State players and coaches raved about the progress he made, it’s still the guy’s first career start, and in a new offense. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest there will be some lapses in communication playing in a big-time, unfamiliar venue like that. These are talented receivers with Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles and Justin Jefferson, but who knows how in sync they’ll be with Burrow after just a few months.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not like Burrow has a Leonard Fournette or a Derrius Guice to turn and hand the ball off to. This is an LSU backfield that’s atypically unproven. For once, the Tigers’ backfield is as big of a question mark as the quarterback situation.
LSU fans have been hearing about that all offseason. Why provide the reminder?
Because these are all important things to remember when you’re evaluating Burrow’s play this weekend. I’d be more focused on whether it looks like he has any limitations than if he’s throwing for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Can he escape an untouched edge rusher? Can he step into a deep ball and take advantage of a mismatch on the outside? Can he make a back-shoulder throw against press coverage?
These are things that I realize LSU fans are not accustomed to seeing. Well, at least not by someone in purple and gold. There’s a chance that Burrow struggles to execute those things in his LSU debut. That’s OK.
LSU pursued the Ohio State transfer to be that difference-maker. He’s starting because he has a better chance of becoming that than Myles Brennan, at least according to the coaching staff. Even though Burrow is a grad transfer, this is about the long-term projection. That isn’t my way of saying that Brennan would fare better against Miami. Rather, don’t convince yourself that if Burrow struggles against Miami, there’s a better option sitting on the LSU bench.
Technically now, Brennan is the only other option. The Tigers won’t turn to him barring injury or a complete collapse from Burrow. I’m not sold we’ll see the latter in 2018.
Have patience if Sunday winds up being a 17-14 defensive slugfest. Maybe wait a few weeks before you decide if Burrow’s the guy who can end the Alabama losing streak. Don’t sell your Burrow stock if we see the Turnover Chain a couple times.
If and when Burrow’s LSU debut isn’t a raging success, remember that it’s a long season with plenty more chances for him to prove his worth. Oh, and 1 other thing to remember if Burrow doesn’t set the world on fire.
The Twitter mute function is your friend.