Burrow has acclimated himself nicely in his first two NFL games after being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals first overall in April’s draft. Brennan now has his chance, getting the opportunity to showcase his talents and continue LSU’s dominant run when he makes his first career start Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State.
Facing an SEC defense is daunting, but the Mississippi native has faced bigger challenges in his life. When Brennan was 7, his home in Bay St. Louis, Miss. was destroyed by the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. The Brennans had lived in that house for just six months because a fire had destroyed their previous home on the same plot of land. For the next four years, he lived on a 70-foot houseboat docked in Destin, Fla. with his parents and two brothers.
“We look back on those four years as the greatest of our lives,” Brennan’s father, Owen, says of the period of familial bonding.
The family moved back to Bay St. Louis in 2009 and Brennan eventually became a high school football star. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder arrived in Baton Rouge as arguably the most storied quarterback in Mississippi high school history, leaving St. Stanislaus College High School as the state’s career record holder for passing touchdowns (166) and passing yards (15,138).
The 21-year-old is the only Tigers quarterback with collegiate game experience, having appeared in 17 contests as a reserve, completing 42-of-70 passes for 600 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Brennan will need to quickly make good use of that experience considering he will be working with a dramatically different supporting cast than his predecessor.
Star wideout Ja’Marr Chase, widely expected to be a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL draft, opted out of the 2020 college football season after setting an SEC single-season record with 1,780 receiving yards to go along with 20 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2019. After stellar seasons last fall, Burrow (5,671 passing yards, 60 touchdowns), running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1,414 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (1,540 receiving yards, 18 touchdowns) were selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
Other key cogs on the Tigers’ national championship offense, such as linemen Saahdiq Charles, Damien Lewis and Lloyd Cushenberry and tight end Thaddeus Moss are also in the NFL. Joe Brady, LSU’s passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach in 2019, left the Tigers In January to become the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.
With such a significant departure of talent, LSU Coach Ed Orgeron knows to keep this season’s expectations in perspective.
“We have a first-year quarterback,” Orgeron said. “I remember when Joe [Burrow] was a first-year quarterback. Not everything was perfect all the time, and I don’t think everything is going to be perfect.”
With Burrow out of the picture, Brennan is eager to make a name for himself.
“Joe came in here and he did his thing. What he did was great and it’s my turn now to do my thing and write my own story,” Brennan said. “I learned a lot from Joe and I took things that he did well and I used them to better myself. But the past is the past and I’m looking forward to being able to play this season and on Saturday.”
Orgeron is aware of the uncertainty surrounding Brennan but has faith in his quarterback.
“The only thing that we don’t know, and I do believe that he’s going to do very well, is how he’s going to do in the fire, and the only way to know that is put him in the fire,” Orgeron said. “I trust Myles. He’s become a team leader.”
Brennan also will be performing in front of an uncharacteristically small home crowd because of the pandemic. Attendance for Saturday’s opener at Tiger Stadium will be capped at 25 percent capacity (meaning a maximum of 25,580 fans in a stadium with room for 102,321) as a safety precaution.
Challenges aside, the Tigers enter Saturday as heavy favorites against the Bulldogs and new coach Mike Leach, who is known for his high-powered air raid offense.
Read more on college football: