But LSU coach Nick Saban has bad news. The Tigers’ 22-21 win over the Beavers has been the exception for his signal-callers rather than the rule, Saban said. Starter Marcus Randall was 7 of 18 for 66 yards, one interception and no touchdowns against Oregon State on a wet and sloppy field. He played so poorly that redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell entered the game, and a quarterback rotation was born.
However, since that game, Randall is 16 of 23 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Oregon State game “wasn’t a fair assessment of him,” Saban said. “Since that time he’s played very consistently and very well, and he’s starting games very well.”
Russell was 9 of 26 against Oregon State but is 24 of 42 for 411 yards, three touchdowns and one interception since. His quarterback rating (138.5) is higher than that of Georgia’s David Greene.
“It seemed like things slowed down for him a little in the last game,” Saban said, “and he had a little more poise and confidence in what he was doing.”
Like Georgia coach Mark Richt, Saban has gone through two versions of the rotation. He first tried to script how much each quarterback would play. Going into the Auburn game two weeks ago, Saban decided each quarterback would get 15 plays to start the game.
Randall opened the game with a 14-play touchdown drive. Russell entered on the next series and led the team to a field goal. Saban went back to Randall on the next series, and the Tigers never scored again.
That system quickly was dropped, and Saban said this week he will start Randall and leave him as long as he’s productive.
“I feel more comfortable now than ever basically,” Randall said.” I think that’s going to be a big thing to go out there and feel comfortable with my team.”
While Georgia’s quarterback rotation features the unique styles of starter David Greene and backup D.J. Shockley, LSU’s quarterbacks are very similar, except for the fact that Russell is 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, which Bulldog defensive tackle Kedric Golston pointed out will make him tough to bring down.
“Both of them are just about identical,” cornerback DeMario Minter said. “Both would like to sit back and throw the ball, but they can make plays with their legs. No matter what quarterback is in, they’re still going to run the same plays.”
There are subtle differences, Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said.
“I think they are both very athletic, but I think Randall will run a little bit more,” he said. “Randall is really a special running quarterback.”
Randall has carried the ball 15 times for 50 yards this year.
Having a clear-cut starting quarterback “has certainly got its pluses,” Saban said, “but I think our situation here right now certainly is working pretty well for us.”
Player Class Cmp-Att-Int Yds TDs
Marcus Randall senior 23-41-1 273 2
JaMarcus Russell redshirt freshman 33-68-1 556 5