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badgerwolf Offline
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From the Advocate (http://www.2theadvocate.com):


Saban hints of using two quarterbacks Saturday


By CARL DUBOIS
cdubois@theadvocate.com
Advocate sportswriter


Who will be LSU's starting quarterback Saturday against Arkansas State? Coach Nick Saban didn't say Monday, and he suggested that might not be the best question to ask.
He hinted the Tigers will use two quarterbacks for the second straight game.

"I'm not sure that I'm ready to say who's going to start the game, but I'm not sure that that's really the issue here," Saban said at his weekly news luncheon. "I think the issue is that we need better execution at the quarterback position."

Fifth-year senior Marcus Randall, who won the starting job in the spring and in fall camp, said Saban told him the job is open again. Randall also said he and redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell split the practice snaps 50-50 with the first-team offense for the first time Monday afternoon.

Randall started and played the entire first half in a 22-21 overtime victory Saturday over Oregon State. After he struggled, Saban sent Russell onto the field to start the second half.

With LSU trailing 9-0, Russell rallied the Tigers to a 15-15 tie that forced an overtime period. Russell left twice with cramps, and Randall made big plays on each of LSU's last two touchdown drives.

The biggest was a 5-yard run on a draw play for the winning touchdown.

"I think it's a tribute to both guys that they went in and out of the game in the second half, and both ended up making plays that contributed to the success that we had coming back in the game," Saban said. "So I think that it would be safe to say that we'll probably end up playing two quarterbacks."

Saban said he told both players Sunday night he didn't know who will start -- and that each should prepare to play against the Indians. He indicated playing time could come down to who's best equipped to be a starter and who can be like the "sixth man" on a basketball team, coming off the bench in relief.

"We want both guys to continue to improve, we need both guys to continue to improve, and we're going to work both guys so that they can improve and give them both an opportunity to most likely play in this game," Saban said. "Our practice this week will have something to do with how those guys do."

Russell was 9-for-26 for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His first five passes fell incomplete. Replays appeared to show he got away with a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand before the forward throwing motion.

The game was played after a heavy downpour that delayed the start.

Saban said Russell showed a good ability to shake off mistakes and move on to the next play, something Saban values throughout the lineup but said is "most important" at the quarterback position.

Russell said he had butterflies that lasted until about an hour or two after the game. He said he knew he'd play, but he had no idea when.

"Coach warned me and told me that I would get a chance to get my feet wet," Russell said, giving no indication of whether the pun was intentional.

"But I never thought I'd get into that situation (a late-game comeback). Once I calmed down a little, it seemed like I was still in high school."

Randall, who appeared dismayed after Russell took his place Saturday, said after practice Monday he knows he's in a battle for playing time, and he said he's comfortable with the situation.

"That just makes the competition better," Randall said. "We're not competing as enemies. He's my teammate. We push each other hard in practice and now in the game. That helps us both."

Randall said Saban met with him before practice and told him the situation.

"He called me in like a man, and he talked to me," Randall said. "He didn't want it to be a surprise to me. That's the way coach is -- he's straightforward with you.

"He told me the situation, that he's going to try to use us both during this game coming up. I took what he said, I respected that and basically went out to practice today knowing we would be sharing reps."

Can a two-quarterback system work?

"I'm not really sure," Randall said. "That's a coach's decision. I think coach will sit down and analyze that. I feel comfortable with whatever coach feels."

Saban shrugged off a suggestion that his preseason comments about Randall were designed to boost or protect Randall's confidence. He said spring and fall practice "clearly" showed Randall deserved to be the starter.

Saban also downplayed a question about the difficulty of choosing to pull Randall from the game because of the possible blow to Randall's psyche.

"Based on history, not just that game, when Marcus didn't start out well in the game and struggled a little bit early, it was our purpose to try and take him out and let him settle down," Saban said. "We gave the other guy an opportunity to play, but it wasn't like we benched the guy and weren't going to put him back in the game."

After Russell fought through freshman jitters, Saban said, he played better and put together a touchdown drive, convincing LSU coaches to leave him in.

Saban said some of Russell's mistakes owed to problems with his footwork.

"A couple of bad throws he made, he slipped when he set his feet. One thing about being a good passer is most people just look at this part of the throw," Saban said, gesturing to his upper body, "but if your feet aren't right -- just like throwing a baseball or anything else -- it affects where the ball goes."

LSU sophomore tailback Alley Broussard said he has no idea what Saban will decide about the quarterbacks, but he gave a brief analysis of their abilities.

"Marcus Randall is more of a scrambling quarterback," he said. "JaMarcus Russell can run, too, but he's better at throwing. His arm is a cannon."

Saban gave his own summary.

"Right now, we have a guy that has some talent, relatively inexperienced," he said, "and another guy that has a lot more experience and has enough talent to be an effective player, but which one of these guys can bring it to the field and do it in the games is, I guess, what we're trying to establish by looking at both."

LSU junior offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said it would be unfair to put all of the blame at quarterback for the Tigers' sluggish offensive play.

"A lot of times the quarterback's fighting uphill," Whitworth said. "The play gets messed up, somebody falls down, and he's got to try to make a play out of something different than what he expected, so I don't think you can put any of that on him.

"That's what was so frustrating Saturday night. Every play, there was one guy that missed something or did something wrong. Ten guys did something right, and one guy messed up, and that allowed us to be stopped."
09-07-2004 10:23 AM
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badgerwolf Wrote:From the Advocate (http://www.2theadvocate.com):


Saban hints of using two quarterbacks Saturday


By CARL DUBOIS
cdubois@theadvocate.com
Advocate sportswriter


Who will be LSU's starting quarterback Saturday against Arkansas State? Coach Nick Saban didn't say Monday, and he suggested that might not be the best question to ask.
He hinted the Tigers will use two quarterbacks for the second straight game.

"I'm not sure that I'm ready to say who's going to start the game, but I'm not sure that that's really the issue here," Saban said at his weekly news luncheon. "I think the issue is that we need better execution at the quarterback position."

Fifth-year senior Marcus Randall, who won the starting job in the spring and in fall camp, said Saban told him the job is open again. Randall also said he and redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell split the practice snaps 50-50 with the first-team offense for the first time Monday afternoon.

Randall started and played the entire first half in a 22-21 overtime victory Saturday over Oregon State. After he struggled, Saban sent Russell onto the field to start the second half.

With LSU trailing 9-0, Russell rallied the Tigers to a 15-15 tie that forced an overtime period. Russell left twice with cramps, and Randall made big plays on each of LSU's last two touchdown drives.

The biggest was a 5-yard run on a draw play for the winning touchdown.

"I think it's a tribute to both guys that they went in and out of the game in the second half, and both ended up making plays that contributed to the success that we had coming back in the game," Saban said. "So I think that it would be safe to say that we'll probably end up playing two quarterbacks."

Saban said he told both players Sunday night he didn't know who will start -- and that each should prepare to play against the Indians. He indicated playing time could come down to who's best equipped to be a starter and who can be like the "sixth man" on a basketball team, coming off the bench in relief.

"We want both guys to continue to improve, we need both guys to continue to improve, and we're going to work both guys so that they can improve and give them both an opportunity to most likely play in this game," Saban said. "Our practice this week will have something to do with how those guys do."

Russell was 9-for-26 for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His first five passes fell incomplete. Replays appeared to show he got away with a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand before the forward throwing motion.

The game was played after a heavy downpour that delayed the start.

Saban said Russell showed a good ability to shake off mistakes and move on to the next play, something Saban values throughout the lineup but said is "most important" at the quarterback position.

Russell said he had butterflies that lasted until about an hour or two after the game. He said he knew he'd play, but he had no idea when.

"Coach warned me and told me that I would get a chance to get my feet wet," Russell said, giving no indication of whether the pun was intentional.

"But I never thought I'd get into that situation (a late-game comeback). Once I calmed down a little, it seemed like I was still in high school."

Randall, who appeared dismayed after Russell took his place Saturday, said after practice Monday he knows he's in a battle for playing time, and he said he's comfortable with the situation.

"That just makes the competition better," Randall said. "We're not competing as enemies. He's my teammate. We push each other hard in practice and now in the game. That helps us both."

Randall said Saban met with him before practice and told him the situation.

"He called me in like a man, and he talked to me," Randall said. "He didn't want it to be a surprise to me. That's the way coach is -- he's straightforward with you.

"He told me the situation, that he's going to try to use us both during this game coming up. I took what he said, I respected that and basically went out to practice today knowing we would be sharing reps."

Can a two-quarterback system work?

"I'm not really sure," Randall said. "That's a coach's decision. I think coach will sit down and analyze that. I feel comfortable with whatever coach feels."

Saban shrugged off a suggestion that his preseason comments about Randall were designed to boost or protect Randall's confidence. He said spring and fall practice "clearly" showed Randall deserved to be the starter.

Saban also downplayed a question about the difficulty of choosing to pull Randall from the game because of the possible blow to Randall's psyche.

"Based on history, not just that game, when Marcus didn't start out well in the game and struggled a little bit early, it was our purpose to try and take him out and let him settle down," Saban said. "We gave the other guy an opportunity to play, but it wasn't like we benched the guy and weren't going to put him back in the game."

After Russell fought through freshman jitters, Saban said, he played better and put together a touchdown drive, convincing LSU coaches to leave him in.

Saban said some of Russell's mistakes owed to problems with his footwork.

"A couple of bad throws he made, he slipped when he set his feet. One thing about being a good passer is most people just look at this part of the throw," Saban said, gesturing to his upper body, "but if your feet aren't right -- just like throwing a baseball or anything else -- it affects where the ball goes."

LSU sophomore tailback Alley Broussard said he has no idea what Saban will decide about the quarterbacks, but he gave a brief analysis of their abilities.

"Marcus Randall is more of a scrambling quarterback," he said. "JaMarcus Russell can run, too, but he's better at throwing. His arm is a cannon."

Saban gave his own summary.

"Right now, we have a guy that has some talent, relatively inexperienced," he said, "and another guy that has a lot more experience and has enough talent to be an effective player, but which one of these guys can bring it to the field and do it in the games is, I guess, what we're trying to establish by looking at both."

LSU junior offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said it would be unfair to put all of the blame at quarterback for the Tigers' sluggish offensive play.

"A lot of times the quarterback's fighting uphill," Whitworth said. "The play gets messed up, somebody falls down, and he's got to try to make a play out of something different than what he expected, so I don't think you can put any of that on him.

"That's what was so frustrating Saturday night. Every play, there was one guy that missed something or did something wrong. Ten guys did something right, and one guy messed up, and that allowed us to be stopped."
Good Luck.


Beat L$U.
09-09-2004 11:34 AM
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