Scooter Hobbs column: It wouldn’t be August without a QB duel

Published 7:23 am Monday, August 22, 2022

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Head coach Brian Kelly announced that freshman Walker Howard will most likely redshirt.

OK, I said it was breaking news, not to be confused with earth-shattering.

So, if you’re still at home keeping score of this quarterback derby, that’s one more down, after the week began with Myles Brennan retiring from football despite still being a few years shy of qualifying for Social Security.

But still very unclear is who will step up and take the starter’s role. It’s a two-man race between the flashy Arizona State transfer, Jayden Daniels, and strong-armed redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier.

An impatient fan base waits with bated breath.

Too close to call, he said. Both did a lot of good things.

It was noteworthy, though, when he added:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they both get the opportunity to play sometime this year.”

Hmmm …

Yes, we’re at that stage of August camp when we’re reduced to reading between the lines and considering the strict definitions of every word uttered and those not said.

So I guess I’d point out that he said “this year,” which we should take to mean at some point in the season — not necessarily that both will play in the season opener against Florida State.

That would be admitting that he has a two-quarterback system, which we know goes against every fiber and strand of his coaching DNA.

He’s made that much clear from the beginning when this whole quarterback shingdig started in the spring.

But with that threat possibly looming, let’s get another definition out of the way.

A “quarterback competition” does not morph into a “quarterback controversy” until a clear starter is named and that starter then performs in such a manner — an interception or two, maybe an ill-timed overthrow — that alerts the cheap seats that surely the backup would do better if the pig-headed coach would just listen to them and give him an honest chance.

We’re nowhere near that dangerous territory yet.

“But we’re going to have to name a starter and that’s going to happen pretty quickly,” Kelly said.

I’ll interpret that, again, to mean he wants no part of two quarterbacks, none of this 1A and 1B business.

Maybe it is that close. There doesn’t appear to be any ulterior motive in waiting to crown a starter. In some situations like this you’d have to massage it carefully, lest the loser start eyeing the NCAA transfer portal. That doesn’t appear to be a factor on this one.

So if you’re handicapping, Daniels would get the edge on experience, with three years starting at Arizona State.

He’s also the bigger dual threat and supposedly has improved his stationary footwork when remaining in the pocket.

Nussmeier has the stronger arm, maybe better positioned to utilize that embarrassing wealth of talent the Tigers have at wide receiver.

My guess is that a decision, coin flip or not, will be made early this week.

And that will be that.

Or not.

For what it’s worth Kelly said Howard would only be used in emergencies this year (he can play in four games without burning his redshirt, as Nussmeier did last season).

Still, before we move on from the redshirt news, keep in mind Kelly has also said a lot of very encouraging things about Howard, another cannon arm.

So get ready.

That likely means that, regardless of how this thing plays out this year, short of a Heisman Trophy, LSU will likely be back in this spot trying to answer the same questions again next August.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at