Hawkeyes to Face True Freshman LSU Quarterback
For the record, his name is Anthony Jennings. He really has a name, first and last.
If you went off Monday morning's teleconference, you'd think LSU's new starting quarterback was named "Young Guy," or maybe "Anthony Young Guy." We should note here that this is the very, very early stages of Iowa's Outback Bowl matchup with Louisiana State. Videos have not yet been scouted. Scouting reports have yet to be crafted.
So, outside of the headliners, the working terminology runs along the lines of No. 44 or Anthony Young Guy.
"It does sound like the young guy came off the bench and did a wonderful job leading their team to victory in that last ball game," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday.
Even his coach blew through the introduction. Anthony Jennings is that new for the Tigers (9-3).
"I suspect that the young quarterback will be ready to step in and ready to play," LSU coach Les Miles said.
Jennings was ready Nov. 29. The 6-2, 211-pound true freshman was really, really ready. After starter and star Zach Mettenberger suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, Jennings came in and engineered LSU's game-winning drive, hitting freshman wide receiver Travin Duval for a 49-yard TD with 1:25 left to lift the Tigers over Arkansas.
Mettenberger is considered a no-brainer for the NFL. The strong-armed senior is ranked No. 41 on ESPN.com's list of draft-eligible players. Mettenberger passed for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns this season and had a 64.9 completion percentage, all of which rank third in LSU history. He finished his career with a 19-6 record as a starter.
Back to Anthony Young Guy. Jennings completed 4 of 7 for 49 yards and rushed three times for 26 yards against the Razorbacks. This season, he's completed 6 of 10 for 99 yards and a TD and has rushed 14 times for 49 yards.
The Arkansas appearance was Jennings' first meaningful appearance in his true freshman season. He'll be the starter for the Outback Bowl (noon kickoff on ESPN on Jan. 1).
LSU might lean a little more on running back Jeremy Hill (175 carries, 1,185 yards and 14 TDs) and the running game, which averaged 200.3 yards a game, No. 6 in the SEC, but don't expect wholesale changes.
"The first thing you do," Miles said when asked about changing quarterbacks on the fly, "you always take into account the things you've done and done well, because he's the playcaller and you're not going to change your team.
"He's been preparing for this time all along. This fall, he's been our second-team quarterback and has gotten the lion's share of snaps after our starter. We feel he's prepared, we feel he's grown, we feel this is timely, the end of the season. If this happened the third game, it'd be different. We're really ready to see what Anthony can do best."
Jennings was a four-star recruit out of Marietta, Ga., High School, where passed for 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and added 5.0 yards a carry and 800 passing yard as a senior. He had 22 scholarship offers including Alabama, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
"I know nothing about the young quarterback, other than I'm sure he was highly recruited," said Ferentz, who prefaced with a statement saying he hadn't cracked a book on LSU. "LSU has a tremendous history of recruiting very well. He sounds like he came in and did a wonderful job.
"He might be a little different style, but I'm not sure styles matter. It's about leading your team, moving them down the field and scoring points. It sure sounds as though he has that quality to him. We'll dig up all the tape available, but I doubt we'll go back to high school tape."
Cam Cameron, a former NFL head coach and Big Ten head coach, was hired this year to take over the Tigers' offense. He helped Mettenberger realize his potential. And now Miles will lean on Cameron heavily in the three-plus weeks before the Outback Bowl.
Jennings is off to a good start.
"He [Jennings] comes in for the last last drive of the regular season and starts with 99 yards to go and is very efficient," Miles said. "He does the things he's supposed to do, shows poise. I think his start and what Cam has done with him really all year long, I think we can look forward to a quality performance from him in the bowl."