One drive tells you a lot about Anthony Jennings.
The freshman quarterback who will start for Louisiana State in the Outback Bowl put on a show two weeks ago –— leading the Tigers 99 yards downfield to beat Arkansas in the final minutes.
“He’s been preparing for this time, really, all along,” LSU coach Les Miles said Monday during a teleconference. “I think we can look forward to a quality performance from him in the bowl.”
Jennings will be an X-factor when the 14th-ranked Tigers (9-3) meet Iowa (8-4) on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Fla.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Marietta, Ga., played sparingly most of the season, leaving a void in the scouting process.
“We’ll look at whatever tape is available,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I doubt we’ll look up high school tape.
“We just have to try and prepare as best we can.”
Jennings, a four-star prospect coming out of high school, received scholarship offers from Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska and dozens of other schools.
He was LSU’s backup, until senior Zach Mettenberger suffered a knee injury during the fourth quarter of the Arkansas game.
“I was calm and relaxed because I knew my teammates around me had my back,” Jennings told reporters. “I’ll always remember this, because this is my first significant time playing and I executed.
“I couldn’t do it by myself, obviously.”
The Razorbacks held a 27-24 lead, and downed a punt at LSU’s 1-yard line with 3:04 remaining.
Jennings, a dual-threat QB, completed passes of 16 and 11 yards, then ran for 21 yards.
On third-and-10, he lofted a pass to Travin Dural that resulted in a 49-yard touchdown with 1:15 left. The Tigers won 31-27.
“He was calm, cool and collected,” offensive lineman Vadal Alexander said afterward. “If Anthony has time, we knew he could pick apart a defense.”
Mettenberger was completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Jennings is more of a mystery.
“I know nothing about the young quarterback, other than I’m sure he was very highly recruited,” Ferentz said. “And it sure sounds like he came in and did a wonderful job.”
From a Hawkeye perspective, Jennings brings back memories of the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
Iowa beat LSU 30-25 in Orlando, Fla., when Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown to Warren Holloway.
Lost in the dramatic finish was an impressive performance by then-sophomore JaMarcus Russell, who replaced starter Marcus Randall.
“The only time I felt good at all during that game was when (Russell) came in,” Ferentz said. “I thought for sure he would throw one to us.
“Next thing you know, he led them back on a furious charge.”
Russell completed 12-of-15 passes for 128 yards, including a 3-yard scoring strike that put LSU ahead 25-24 with 46 seconds left.
“Probably as good a half of football as he played during the course of his career,” Ferentz said. “So much for my scouting report on new quarterbacks.”
The question this time around: How will Jennings respond as a starter?
“We have another challenge,” Miles said, “but I suspect the young quarterback will be ready to step in and play.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football