Statistically, Brennan had greatest 1st start for LSU QB ever; Stingley practices
BATON ROUGE — Who knew that the disastrous debut of LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and the mysterious illness of cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. would take away from the projected most significant debut of LSU's season opener on Saturday?
That of new starting quarterback Myles Brennan.
After a slow start, Brennan ended up playing well, but he could not overcome the above as the No. 5 Tigers lost, 44-34, to 17-point underdog Mississippi State at Tiger Stadium.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Pelini will try to re-work the defense, and they are expected to have Stingley back when the No. 17 Tigers (0-1) play at Vanderbilt (0-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network. Stingley participated in practice on Monday.
"I'm glad that he's back, and he's healthy," LSU senior safety JaCoby Stevens said on a teleconference Tuesday afternoon. "He's ready to go. I mean, yesterday he was running around during individual (a portion of practice) and being Derek."
"It's always scary for a teammate to have to go to the hospital all of a sudden," Stevens said. "Or just anybody in general, so to see him back with a smile on his face and back healthy and participating in practice is always a good thing to see."
As State quarterback K.J. Costello was shredding LSU's secondary without Stingley and the Southeastern Conference's passing record for a game with 623 yards and five touchdowns on 36-of-60 passing, Brennan quietly made history himself.
The red-shirt junior from Long Beach, Miss., only had the greatest statistical first-time start for a quarterback in LSU history. The 27 completions, 46 attempts, and 346 yards passing broke all records of previous first-time LSU starting quarterbacks. He did that around seven sacks and three interceptions.
Former quarterback Joe Burrow completed 11 of 24 passes for 140 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in his first LSU start in 2018 in a 33-17 win over Miami.
"We started slow and got going in the second half," Brennan said. "I'd say we need to start a little bit quicker."
Brennan completed just three of his first eight passes for 27 yards into the second quarter. He then hit four of his next five for 72 yards with a 2-yard touchdown to true freshman tight end Arik Gilbert to get the Tigers within 14-10 with 5:20 left before halftime. Brennan found sophomore wide receiver Jaray Jenkins of Jena twice on the drive, first for seven yards and then on a 47-yard connection to the State 10-yard line.
Jenkins finished with five catches for 85 yards.
Junior wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. of Bossier City led the Tigers with eight catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Brennan to give LSU a 24-20 lead with 5:01 to go in the third quarter. But the defense could not hold.
Marshall caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brennan to get the Tigers within 34-31 with 11:01 to play. Gilbert finished with four catches for 37 yards. Senior wide receiver Racey McMath caught three passes for 50 yards. Sophomore tailback John Emery Jr. caught three passes for 25 yards.
True freshmen Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore had one catch for six yards and one catch for five yards, respectively.
"I think all of our young guys played really well," Brennan said. "This is big time football, and the freshmen were went to the fire the first game. Obviously, there's a lot to learn and a lot to correct, and we're going to be able to do that. I think we're going to be just fine looking forward."
"Myles did make some good plays," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "But we dropped too many balls. The offense woke up in the second half. But we made too many mistakes."
Not all of the seven sacks were the offensive line's fault, though, as Brennan was slow to decide where to go with the football.
"We did not protect the quarterback, and when we did, we were late on some reads," Orgeron said.
"We've got to watch our film," Brennan said. "Execution all around the board just wasn't there."
Brennan's deep game looked good at times as he hit passes of 47, 20, 28, 37, and 33 yards.
"I liked the long ball," Orgeron said. "I thought Brennan threw the long ball very well. He missed a couple down the pipe there. The skinny post (to Marshall) was really good. One of (offensive coordinator) Steve Ensminger's strengths is taking shots, and one of Myles' strengths is his arm strength."
Orgeron said Brennan needs to work on his pocket presence and play and think faster.
"He needs to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker," he said. "He was a little bit hesitant in the pocket. He needs to stay in the pocket a little bit more and make better decisions. When Myles feels a little pressure, he wants to scramble outside. He's got to sit in there. But sometimes he can't. He made some good throws, but he was inconsistent."
In other words, Brennan needs to be more like Burrow.
"Myles knows what he's looking at," Orgeron said of Brennan's knowledge of the offense. "There's no question. But it's a matter of making a decision, making a decision. And what Joe did is make a decision quick and let go of the ball quick. He (Brennan) has to learn how to avoid the rush by stepping up in the pocket like Drew Brees instead of going outside. Be patient and let receivers come open. And pull the trigger, pull the trigger, just like any great quarterback would."
Punter Zach Von Rosenberg honored
LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg was named the Ray Guy Award punter of the week for his game against Mississippi State Saturday. Von Rosenberg, a senior from the Baton Rouge area, averaged 49.4 yards a punt through seven with a long of 58.
LSU-Mississippi State most watched
The Tigers' loss to Mississippi State Saturday was the most watched game of the young college football season with an average of 4.4 million viewers, according to CBS. The game that kicked off at 2:30 p.m. peaked late in the fourth quarter with 6 million viewers between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. The game ended at 6:41 p.m.
The game had 23 percent more viewers than the Alabama-Ole Miss game on Sept. 28, 2019, which averaged 3.6 million viewers. Alabama won that game, 59-31.