April 1, 2006

Backup QBs shine in LSU spring scrimmage

BATON ROUGE, La. – As long as he regains his health, JaMarcus Russell figures to open the season as Louisiana State's starting quarterback.

But he might not be the only quarterback to earn significant playing time.

LSU coach Les Miles said Saturday after the team's spring scrimmage that he believes the Tigers have enough quarterback depth to create more competition at that position.

Miles made those comments after watching junior Matt Flynn and redshirt freshman Ryan Perrilloux split time at quarterback while Russell continues to recover from injuries to his left (non-throwing) shoulder and right wrist.

Flynn and Perrilloux lack the experience and savvy Russell gained by directing six career fourth-quarter or overtime victories, but they possess greater mobility than the incumbent starter.

"I think they have differing characteristics," Miles said. "Those characteristics give you differing weapons. In every event, you choose the best quarterback. I think it's going to be a more competitive position than it's been."

So is he open to using a two-quarterback system?

"I'm not ready to say that just yet," Miles said. "I certainly want to give our offense more advantages, period."

Flynn went 12-of-26 for 167 yards with two touchdown passes and one touchdown run in Saturday's scrimmage. Perrilloux was 11-of-26 for 145 yards with one touchdown pass.

Dwayne Bowe caught all three touchdown passes and finished the day with seven receptions for 126 yards. Bowe and junior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey won the Jimmy Taylor Awards that go to the two players who show the most outstanding combination of leadership, effort and performance in spring practice.

Neither quarterback was made available to the media afterward. Flynn said earlier in the week that he was just trying to get better without worrying about playing time.

"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 already showed what he could do in a game situation last year by going 13-of-22 for 196 yards with two touchdown passes in a 40-3 Peach Bowl victory over Miami after Russell separated his left shoulder in a Southeastern Conference championship loss to Georgia. Russell later underwent offseason surgery on his right wrist.

But this marked the first time LSU fans got to see Perrilloux, a consensus choice as the nation's top quarterback in the 2005 recruiting class.

Perrilloux looked raw at times – he sidearmed a couple of throws and didn't always have the best mechanics – but he showed off his arm strength and maneuverability by rolling to his right and finding Bowe for a 30-yard touchdown.

Flynn also revealed his mobility by running for a 2-yard touchdown to go along with his 25-yard and 15-yard scoring strikes to Bowe.

"You got to wonder if they're going to run or throw the ball," junior linebacker Ali Highsmith said. "They're both scramblers. They've both got good arms, too. You never know what they're going to do."

Although Flynn and Perrilloux both showed plenty of promise Saturday, Russell remains the favorite to start the Sept. 2 season opener with Louisiana Lafayette.

Russell went 188-of-311 for 2,443 yards last year with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The junior owns a 14-2 record as a starter.

"I think you can see it'd be difficult not to start with JaMarcus somewhere at some time, but you also can see those two guys (Flynn and Perrilloux) have played enough to warrant playing time," Miles said. "We'd have to operate on a little more of a competitive basis, in my opinion."

Russell wasn't the only starter who missed Saturday's spring wrapup.

Other injured players who sat out the scrimmage included running backs Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent, guard Will Arnold, center Ryan Miller, strong safety Jessie Daniels and free safety LaRon Landry.

The injury situation, however, wasn't the reason Miles decided to hold a scrimmage instead of a spring game. Miles believed a scrimmage would allow his team to run plays in all types of game scenarios, including short-yardage situations and two-minute drills.

"To come out and have a fun spring game and (give) hot dogs and steak to the winner is a lot more fun," Miles said, "but it's not necessarily as coach-friendly because the coach ¬gets to know (in a scrimmage) what the spring practice actually accomplished."



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