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Transfer of Lowell Narcisse leaves LSU dangerously thin at quarterback

Lowell Narcisse

It would be so easy to write a column about another quarterback failing to realize his potential at LSU. That, however, has been done many times—too many times.

With redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse announcing Tuesday his intent to transfer from LSU, the former four-star joins an expansive list of talented prep prospects that never materialized during a stretch of incompetence under center in Baton Rouge that’s entering its second decade.

Since 2005—Les Miles’ first signing class—Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson are the only quarterbacks who signed with LSU out of high school and completed their eligibility as Tiger signal callers.

(Note: Russell Shepard signed as a quarterback, but finished his career as a wide receiver)

I could rattle off names like Zach Lee, Chris Garrett, Hayden Rettig, Lindsey Scott, Jeremy Liggins and Anthony Jennings. I could keep going, but I’m sure you don’t have all day and I said this wasn’t going to be a column about swings and misses under center.

No, the 2018 Tigers have far more pressing matters facing it than to worry about the program’s sordid past at quarterback. Four games against preseason Top 10 opponents and seven against the Top 30 is attention-grabbing. The Tigers will face those battles with a new offensive coordinator who is replacing his quarterback, top two rushers, top two receivers and three starting lineman from a year ago.

Considering LSU opens the season in Arlington against No. 8 Miami in less than three weeks, it would stand to reason that identifying a starting quarterback and affording whomever that might be—cough, Joe Burrow, cough, cough—as many reps as possible would be a top priority.

Instead, LSU has put on a charade masked as a quarterback competition among four players since fall practice started. Nobody actually believed that Narcisse or redshirt junior Justin McMillan was going to win the job. After all, they didn’t bring Burrow to Baton Rouge from Ohio State to fill a roster spot and signal in plays from the sideline.

That is a reality that apparently became clear to the two after the team’s first scrimmage of fall camp this past Saturday. Both missed practice Tuesday with Narcisse announcing hours later that he is bouncing to greener pastures with an announcement from McMillan expected soon. (McMillan subsequently announced his intention to transfer from LSU Wednesday morning).

Ed Orgeron has been playing a dangerous game. By rotating all four quarterbacks evenly, he was attempting to keep them all happy to prevent a transfer and maintain his depth at the position. The same strategy failed a year ago when Scott saw the writing on the wall and bolted after the first week of fall camp. Rotating the quarterbacks also sabotaged the offense by robbing Burrow of reps with his new teammates. At this point, every quarterback-center exchange, every timing route with a receiver, every handoff to a new running back is vital for developing continuity within this new offense. And every rep that went to a player that isn’t going to play delayed that progress bit by bit.

RELATED: Sean Salisbury ‘bummed’ he won’t be joining LSU coaching staff.

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