By Glenn Guilbeau
BATON ROUGE — LSU is playing in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla., but from the Tigers’ perspective the game really could be called the “Anthony Jennings Bowl.”
The true freshman quarterback, who barely played this season until starter Zach Mettenberger was injured late in LSU’s regular season finale against Arkansas, will be the focus of the Tigers’ preparations that began Monday afternoon for both the bowl and the future.
“Anthony had a good practice today,” Miles said Monday night. “One thing about it is he’s getting more reps, and he’s going to come of age very quickly. The good news is it’s the postseason, and we’ve had this (former) second team quarterback get a lot of reps anyway. So it’s not even like it’s just 12 practices. It’s really a whole season, and now 12 more where we can focus on him. And it’s really like we should expect to see him play well.”
The No. 14 Tigers (9-3), who play unranked Iowa (8-4) at noon on New Year’s Day, will practice seven times on campus before breaking for Christmas on Dec. 23 and leaving for Tampa on Dec. 26. They will practice five times in Tampa. Jennings will be getting most of the quarterback snaps ahead of No. 2 quarterback Stephen Rivers.
“There’s not going to be any pieces of what we do that he won’t be able to do,” Miles said of Jennings.
After completing 2 of 3 passes for 23 yards and rushing 11 times for 23 yards in mostly mop-up duty behind Mettenberger through the first 11 games, Jennings came off the bench cold against Arkansas when Mettenberger injured his knee in the fourth quarter. The 2013 signee from Marietta, Ga., completed 4 of 7 for 76 yards with a 49-yard touchdown bomb to Travin Dural for the game-winning touchdown with 1:15 to play in a 31-27 victory.
“It appeared to be very efficient and with big play potential in the last drive against Arkansas,” Miles said when asked about the kind of offense Jennings will direct. “Basically, it’s the same offense. I think the veteran wide receivers are enjoying him because he’s working hard to get them the ball and doing a good job.”
Landry named MVP: Junior wide receiver Jarvis Landry was named the winner of the Charles McClendon Award as the Tigers’ most valuable player at the team banquet Sunday night. Landry caught a team-high 75 passes for 1,172 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2013. Wide receiver Odell Beckham and tailback Jeremy Hill shared the outstanding offensive player award. Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson won the outstanding defensive player award.
Iowa defense: LSU’s high powered offense will be playing one of the nation’s best defenses in the Outback Bowl. Iowa finished No. 7 in the nation in total defense with 303.2 yards allowed a game, No. 11 in pass defense with 182.4 yards allowed a game and No. 17 in rush defense with 120.8 yards allowed a game.
“They are guys that really know football. They’re always in the right spot, read their keys extremely well,” Miles said. “Very disciplined. I really enjoy their defense. It’s a very, very disciplined group. They play extremely hard. I think they’re giving up 300 yards a game, or something ridiculous. I can see why. They tackle well. They’re physical. Very, very quality Big Ten defense.”
Ticket sales: After a full eight days since it was announced that LSU will be playing Iowa in the Outback Bowl, only approximately 6,000 of LSU’s allotment of 12,000 tickets had been sold through Monday. As of Friday, only 100 or so LSU students had purchased tickets.
“They’re going to miss a heckuva game,” Miles said. “It’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful competition. I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to go.”
Quote of the day: “Oh geez.”
— LSU coach Les Miles, while a reporter started to ask about his name possibly coming up for the head coaching vacancy at Texas. “Please, let’s not kick my name around,” he said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football