April 1, 2006

LSU's Flynn making most of opportunities

Matt Flynn already seized one opportunity to make an impression.

Three months after leading Louisiana State to a 40-3 Peach Bowl demolition of Miami, the junior quarterback has another chance to prove himself.

Flynn played in the Peach Bowl after starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell separated his left shoulder in a 34-14 Southeastern Conference championship loss to Georgia. Russell later underwent offseason surgery on his right wrist.

The injuries have continued to limit Russell in spring practice, as the junior concentrates on making sure he's at full strength for the Sept. 2 season opener with Louisiana-Lafayette.

Russell's condition has given Flynn more work with the first-team offense and has allowed the backup to show he merits more playing time. Flynn insists he's not worrying about a potential quarterback competition as he gets ready for Saturday's spring scrimmage at Tiger Stadium.

Flynn is treating this more as an opportunity than an audition.

"You can't focus on what's going to happen in the fall," Flynn said. "I just worry about each practice and making myself a better quarterback. You can't make the coach's decision. I just want to take advantage of my opportunity."

Flynn certainly knows how to capitalize on an opportunity.

At the start of last season, Flynn seemed trapped on the depth chart between Russell and Ryan Perrilloux, rated as the nation's top quarterback in the 2005 recruiting class. That all changed one December evening in the Georgia Dome.

Flynn was named the Peach Bowl's most outstanding offensive player after going 13-of-22 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. In his first career start, Flynn engineered eight consecutive scoring drives against the nation's top-ranked pass defense.

He looked nothing like the untested quarterback who went 3-of-11 for only 36 yards after Russell went down in the SEC championship game.

"It was a confidence-builder," Flynn said of the Peach Bowl performance. "But I've never doubted my ability or doubted myself. I've never lacked confidence."

Now he wants to build on that momentum.

Although Russell remains the likely starter this fall as long as he stays healthy, Flynn knows opportunity could knock again soon.

LSU has a history of using more than one quarterback over the course of a season. Russell shared the job with Marcus Randall two years ago, then Russell's injuries forced Flynn into service last December.

And that isn't the only reason Flynn needs to stay on top of his game. Flynn and Russell aren't the Tigers' only talented quarterbacks.

Although Perrilloux was redshirted last fall, he still possesses the same arm strength and athleticism that made him one of the nation's most highly touted recruits. Having Russell, Flynn and Perrilloux on the same roster would seem to give the Tigers an embarrassment of riches.

Then again, LSU learned late last season that you never can have too much depth at the quarterback position.

For more coverage of LSU spring football, check out TigerBait.com.


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