Press "Enter" to skip to content

Brian Kelly Has 2 QBs & Need to Make Sure One of them Stays happy & on LSU Roster

Brian Kelly’s political chops will be put to the test this spring as the LSU coach aims to retain the Tigers’ remaining quarterback depth.

Persuasive rhetoric and a bit of back-slapping is not to be ignored when trying to preserve your best reserves in this college football era when a talented backup quarterback can be on your roster today, in the portal tomorrow and atop a conference rival’s depth chart within a week.

LSU is blessed with two talented quarterbacks, but retaining two talented quarterbacks has never been tougher.

You don’t want your incumbent thinking he’s at risk of losing his starting job. He probably isn’t in the case of LSU’s incumbent Jayden Daniels. Kelly said

“Jayden is the No. 1 quarterback,” Kelly said after that game. “Garrett will get an opportunity to compete, though.”

I suggest punching up that language to ensure Nussmeier knows his value and opportunity at LSU, both as a key backup and a potential quarterback of the future.

uch after Daniels and backup Garrett Nussmeier teamed up to torch Purdue 63-7 in the Citrus Bowl.

Heck, draw up some campaign-style purple and gold buttons for Tigers fans to wear: Daniels 2023. Nussmeier 2024.

Kelly ought to know the power of messaging. He’s the son of an alderman, and Kelly himself graduated from Assumption College with a political science degree. He worked for Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign.

Providing a power-of-persistence success story is a favorite method of persuasion when working the stump.

In this case, Kelly could point Nussmeier to the story of Tony Pike, the former Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback who played for Kelly.

Pike attempted just 20 passes through three years in UC’s program while buried on the depth chart. Pike once joked to the Cincinnati Enquirer that all he got through three years with the Bearcats was a school-issued clipboard. Pike became a Bearcats legend for what came next. Injury pressed him into duty in 2008, and he earned All-Big East honors in back-to-back years as UC compiled a 23-4 record from 2008-09.

If this were a different time when transfers weren’t so prevalent, LSU would be positioned to keep its offense in a capable quarterback’s hands, long term.

Daniels, a proven veteran, would remain the starter as a senior in 2023, then pass the baton to Nussmeier, a big-armed redshirt sophomore who would take over the starter’s role after backing up Daniels for a second season. That would position Nussmeier for two seasons as LSU’s starter before he executed a handoff of his own to a player whom Kelly signed and developed.

Rarely is it that simple anymore.

Spending multiple years as a backup quarterback within the same program like Pike did at UC is as out of style as the wishbone formation.

In a sign of the times, Walker Howard, a ballyhooed recruit from Kelly’s first signing class, transferred last week to Ole Miss rather than spend another season as LSU’s No. 3 quarterback behind Daniels and Nussmeier.

That leaves Kelly needing to walk the tightrope this spring, because Daniels and Nussmeier are LSU’s only quarterbacks with college experience. Four-star freshman Rickie Collins is LSU’s third quarterback.

Keep Daniels and Nussmeier in the program throughout 2023, and LSU will be well armed. But if Nussmeier enters the transfer portal when it reopens in April, LSU would navigate the season with concerningly little depth at the game’s most important position.

So, Kelly must persistently remind Nussmeier of his value.

What better way to do that than to award Nussmeier ample first-team reps throughout spring practice?

That wouldn’t mean Nussmeier is unseating Daniels, who ranked among the SEC’s best quarterbacks in his first season at LSU after transferring from Arizona State.

But Nussmeier’s performance off the bench in the final two games of last season showed he’s worth a spring audition with the first team. In the short term, that would polish his readiness as a backup, in case Daniels encounters injury or a rough game. Plus, Nussmeier exiting the spring thinking he has a shot at the starting job would dissuade him from the portal. Big picture, giving Nussmeier a fair shake would prepare him to seize the starting reins in 2024, if he sticks around until then.

“You can’t be closed-minded when you’re looking at two elite quarterbacks,” Kelly said after Daniels and Nussmeier combined for 379 yards of offense in the Citrus Bowl.

After Nussmeier threw for 294 yards against the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship, I wondered whether he might transfer this winter to an SEC program in need of a starter.

Now that he stayed and the portal is closed until April, though, it would seem prudent for Nussmeier to consider remaining with LSU regardless of whether he’s No. 1 or No. 2 on the depth chart exiting the spring.

He’s an important piece of a team that profiles as a College Football Playoff contender in 2023, and he profiles as LSU’s quarterback of the future.

Kelly just has to convince Nussmeier that’s a path of persistence worth embracing.