Ranking LSU QBs

Kyle Riviere
LSU starting quarterback Danny Etling. Photo by

After LSU’s 24-10 loss to Alabama, I didn’t jump on the “Bench Danny Etling” bandwagon, but I surely wasn’t sugarcoating my thoughts on his play either.

The Tigers outplayed Alabama in many aspects. The difference in the game was Etling’s inability to connect with open receivers downfield.

All of the back-and-forth debate on who should be the LSU starting quarterback got me missing some of the QBs we’ve had in the past.

In the last 20 years, there have been 13 quarterbacks that have started at least five games for the Tigers. So, I decided to rank them.

Pulling up the rear in dead last, I have Josh Booty.

Booty went just 8-12 as a starter for the Tigers and never played in a bowl game. In two seasons, he threw a whopping 34 interceptions and never completed more than 50 percent of his passes. Ouch.

You don’t have to go as far back to remember No. 12. That would be Anthony Jennings.

Jennings did have a 10-3 record, but he completed just 49 percent of his passes in his only full season as a starter.

His play was so bad during 2014 that he was temporarily benched for freshman Brandon Harris, before permanently losing his job at the start of 2015.

Marcus Randall is No. 11.

He did have a legendary moment back in 2004, when he threw the touchdown pass against Kentucky in what is now known as the “Bluegrass Miracle,” but great moments like that were few and far in his career.

He went 0-2 in bowl games and threw just 16 touchdown passes in two seasons.

We remember No. 10 Brandon Harris quite well.

Harris got off to a great start in 2015, before falling apart late in the year and eventually losing his job just a little more than a game into the 2016 season.

Jarrett Lee is No. 9.

Lee had a miserable freshman year that saw him throw 16 interceptions, nine of which were returned for touchdowns.

After being Jordan Jefferson’s backup for two years, he returned as the starter during his senior season when Jefferson was suspended.

He played very well until he threw two first-half interceptions against Alabama. He was benched and never saw the field again.

I’ll rank Etling at No. 8.

He has been in no way elite, but he’s been serviceable for the Tigers. He has gone 14-6 as a starter and thrown just seven interceptions in two seasons.

Jefferson is at No. 7.

He had a great first season as the starting QB, throwing 17 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, but he regressed as a junior and senior.

Still, he went 25-7 as a starter and won two bowl games.

Zach Mettenberger was LSU’s last great quarterback. I have him at No. 6.

Mettenberger had a terrific senior season, as he completed 65 percent of his passes and threw for 3,082 yards with 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

I have Rohan Davey at No. 5.

Nick Saban will go down as arguably the greatest college football coach of all time, but he was dead wrong in not starting Davey over Booty in 2000.

In Davey’s senior year as the clear-but starter, he threw for 3,347 yards and 18 touchdowns as he led the Tigers to an SEC title and Sugar Bowl victory.

He set school records for most passing yards in a regular-season game (528) and bowl (444).

Everyone forgets about Herb Tyler, but I have him at No. 4.

Tyler helped turn LSU back into a winner in the late ‘90s. He went 27-11 as a starter. Tyler also went 3-0 in bowl games and accounted for 73 touchdowns in his career.

Oh yeah, he led the Tigers to that huge upset victory over No. 1 Florida in 1997.

I have Matt Flynn at No. 3.

Flynn only started one season, but he led LSU to an SEC title and their third national championship. Along the way, he threw 21 touchdown passes.

JeMarcus Russell was terribly under-appreciated when he was at LSU. He’s even more maligned now after his disastrous stint in the NFL, but he’s No. 2 for me.

Russell went 21-4 as a starter and led LSU to six fourth-quarter comeback victories in his career.

His junior season was sensational as he threw for 3,129 yards, 28 touchdowns, just eight interceptions and he led them to a 41-14 beatdown of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. In that game, he threw for 332 yards and two scores.

Matt Mauk, who went 18-2 as a starter, is No. 1.

In his final year at LSU, Mauk threw for 2,825 yards and 28 touchdowns as he led the Tigers to an SEC title and their first national championship in 45 years.

In 20 games as a starter, he threw 37 touchdown passes.