On Friday, one or two people on TigerDroppings accused me of idiocy because I
a. Said that Blake Mitchell was a pretty good quarterback, and
b. Said that at this point I would probably take Blake Mitchell over Matt Flynn.
Then on Saturday, eyewitness reports from the LSU Spring Game said that Flynn looked pretty average and that Perrilloux looked below average. Suddenly, LSU Nation had a bona fide quarterbacking crisis. I wonder if my statement that I would prefer Blake Mitchell at this point would be more popular. I didn't read all the "woe are us" threads, but I doubt anyone made any mention of my day-old statements. On such a high-traffic, high-content site like TigerDroppings, memories usually fade pretty quickly.
Believe me, I was as surprised as anyone could be to find out, through a look at actual statistics, that Mitchell was the second most productive QB in the conference last year, measured on a "per play" basis. I would have guessed he'd have come out behind Leak, Ainge, and Woodson at least. But no; he was ahead of all of them, and behind only Jamarcus Russell. People scoffed. People mocked. People pointed out that Mitchell was benched halfway through the year.
People also pointed out that Mitchell had Sidney Rice to throw to. I don't buy that this made that much of a difference. After all, Leak had Baker, Harvin, and Caldwell. Ainge had Meachem. Woodson had... umm.. well, I'm not sure he had anybody at all. Mitchell was ahead of all of them. Also, Syvelle Newton also had Sidney Rice to throw to, and he ended up behind Mitchell too.
Anyway, enough about Mitchell. This post is supposed to be about Matt Flynn. Reports out off pre-Spring Game practices were that he was doing well. Reports from the game itself differ. I haven't watched one second of practice, so I don't really know. However, I know one thing that troubles me terribly: No SEC team will be starting a QB who took fewer meaningful snaps in 2006 than did Matt Flynn. If that's not a potential team weakness, I don't know what is.
Only one other team will be replacing their full-time starting QB, and that is Florida. Florida at least has the benefit of having gotten Tim Tebow significant meaningful playing time in 2006. Don't get me wrong; Tebow still has to prove he can perform every down and deal with the inevitable adversity that comes with being a starter. For a sophomore, however, he has quite a bit of competitive experience.
Flynn, as a 5th year senior, has significant practice experience going against some of the best defenses in the country. He has a lot of mop-up duty experience. He had a very good game against Miami in the Peach Bowl two years ago. He had some other less than spectacular appearances in his career as well. I ultimately think Flynn will be a very good QB, but we can't overlook the fact that his level of responsibility has never been what it will be next year, and he is NOT the quarterback that Jamarcus Russell was. Russell was special, and could do things that a defense had never seen before. Flynn is a more conventional talent. There are bound to be some growing pains as he improves.
The good news is that he will have what may be an exceptionally good running attack to lean on while he gets accustomed to being The Man. And he will have an exceptionally good defense erasing any errors.