It was nice to have the weekend off to sulk in the despair of this 1-2 start. At least, it was significantly better than the inevitable ass beating that was coming to us in Gainesville. In many ways, this surprise bye week has been the best thing that has happened for this team in this wacky 2020 season. As I mentioned last week, the defense has a ton to fix, so having 2 weeks to adjust some scheme and personnel is huge. Not having to go into the Swamp with a 1st time starting true freshman at QB is also nice.
Myles Brennan was not going to play last Saturday, and based on what I’ve heard over the past 7 days, he may be out for a little while longer with what sounds like an abdominal tear. Coach O listed him as “questionable” for the game this week – but that dude ain’t playing. That leaves true freshmen Max Johnson and TJ Finley to battle it out for the starting job. Orgeron says that whoever practices the best this week will get the nod to start, but it’s worth noting that when Brennan went into the tent to get looked at, Max Johnson was the one to start warming up in case Brennan couldn’t come back in. So, who are these guys?
Max Johnson is the son of Super Bowl winning quarterback Brad Johnson and the nephew of long time Georgia head coach Mark Richt. Max is listed as 6’5 219 lbs. and is a lefty. Coach O described him as “a little faster than Joe Burrow.” In his senior year at Oconee County High School, he threw for 30 TDs and ran in another 7 leading Oconee to the State Championship game.
TJ Finley is all of 6’6 242 lbs. He threw for just under 3,000 yards with 21 TDs and another 8 rushing. TJ has an absolute cannon of an arm, and Coach O says that he uses his height to throw a great back shoulder pass.
Both of these guys enrolled at LSU early and actually got to practice with the team during the playoff run. I’d pick Max Johnson to get the nod if I had to pick someone, but whoever it is, don’t expect the offense to look the same. Neither will have the timing, accuracy, or grasp of the offense that Myles had developed in his 3 years and 3 starts. I’d imagine we’ll see a lot of short passes to help them to get in rhythm and a focus on the run game to try to take pressure off the young guns.
South Carolina isn’t going to make it easy on them, either. Jaycee Horn picked off Bo Nix twice last week. The Gamecocks don’t appear to be particularly good on either side of the ball, and yet they’ve played fairly well in all 4 of their games. They made Guarantano look elite in week 1, and yet they only lost by 4. They played Florida tough in the Swamp until what was some of the worst clock management I’ve seen late in the 4th quarter outside of Les Miles against Ole Miss and Tennessee. They beat Vandy by the exact score that we did. And finally, they beat Auburn last week. The offense hasn’t looked great, but it’s been enough. The defense is a very similar story. The main takeaway I have from watching them play is that they LOVE to grind games out.
With a true freshman running the offense, that’s probably exactly the type of game we’re in for. I believe the defense will be improved, but it still won’t be where we’d like it to be, and this offense is probably a few scores worse without Myles Brennan. So, I’ll give 2 score predictions this week:
LSU – 42
USCe – 31
LSU – 24
USCe – 31
Jackson Poss @jacksondposs
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