Get ready to yell Happy New Year!
The traditional calendar does not begin until Jan. 1, but in these parts the year really starts with the beginning of football season. And that is Saturday at 4 p.m. when LSU hosts Appalachian State. At last, there will be something on television on Saturdays.
When the Tigers take their first snap in the ESPN-televised game, look for No. 14 to be at quarterback. That is sophomore Andrew Hatch. LSU coach Les Miles will not announce the starter. In fact, he may not even tell Hatch he is the starter until Thursday. But by process of elimination, I can't see it being anyone else. Miles has already ruled out true freshman Jordan Jefferson as the starter for week one, as he is just getting to know the offense. But he has said Jefferson will play throughout the seaosn.
Hatch and Jarrett Lee, a redshirt freshman, have been working with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's offense for a year. One of those two will start, Miles said Monday at a press conference. Since Lee has not practiced in a week, it's got to be Hatch. Lee conceivably could have a great week of practice and start Saturday, but I doubt it.
From a depth chart perspective, it doesn't matter that much who takes the first snap because both will play. But as far as LSU's performance in this game, it matters very much. And Miles should let one of the two know ASAP. Quarterbacks need to know they're starting as early as possible. That is particularly important this week as Appalachian State is a feared giant killer with its monumental win over Michigan last season. The way to beat upset-minded upstarts is from the opening bell - knock them in the mouth. The way to do that is with a scoring drive on the first possession. So it does matter who starts. I find it hard to believe that Hatch has not already been told he's the guy for now.
Whatever Miles does he shouldn't do what Nick Saban did often in the 2004 season when Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell traded starts. Saban wouldn't tell the guy he was starting until sometimes the day of the game. Both were struggling enough as it is, and this ploy did not work.
Meanwhile, App. State knows who it will start at quarterback. Armanti Edwards is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the nation, regardless of classification. When was the last time a I-AA school came to Tiger Stadium and had the best quarterback in the building?
LSU will win this game comfortably, but App. State will make it interesting early.