Flynn comfortable in command
QB quickly assumed lead role, now eager as team hits the field Sunday,
Sunday, August 05, 2007
By James Varney
BATON ROUGE -- Four years after arriving at LSU, Matt Flynn took the reins as the first-string quarterback at practice Saturday.
"If feels good," said Flynn, a senior from Tyler, Texas. "I'm not going to say it was a relief, but it's nice to go out there and know you're the guy and your team is looking up to you to perform and take a leadership role. We've been talking about if for a long time, so it felt good to go out there and actually play some football."
The opening practice, with the players in un-decaled helmets and shorts, was designed as much to get players used to the heat as anything else.
In the portion open to the press, Flynn threw to wide receivers running fly patterns, then, working with tight ends, threw short slants and both short and long out passes. For the most part, he looked sharp, and at times he shook hands and chatted with senior Early Doucet, a wideout expected to be the Tigers' main receiving threat.
Players said Flynn immediately embraced his new role after the departure of junior JaMarcus Russell, a first-team All-SEC quarterback who led LSU to an 11-2 season before leaving school early and becoming the top pick in the NFL draft last April.
In the previous two years in which Russell was the starter, Flynn appeared as a backup in 14 games and took over in the 2005 Southeastern Conference championship when Russell's shoulder was injured against Georgia. LSU lost that game badly before Flynn produced an outstanding performance against Miami in the Peach Bowl, a game on which most of his reputation among the Tiger faithful rests.
Flynn finished his junior season completing 12 of 20 passes for 133 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Considered a good runner, Flynn also scored his first career rushing touchdown against Tulane, and for the season he gained 86 yards on 13 carries.
He began to adjust to his new role during spring practice.
"Since JaMarcus left, I've believed that was going to happen -- and I've never really doubted myself," he said. "So, I've kind of taken the same attitude from the spring until now."
Under new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, Flynn said LSU has not completely abandoned its old offense
"There's going to be some changes, but nothing that people will step back and say, 'Wow, that's so much different than what they did in the past,' " Flynn said. "We're going to incorporate some of Coach Crowton's plays that he's run over the years, and we're going to keep some of (former offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher's) stuff because a lot of the older guys are comfortable with that, and it's been successful. So there's no reason to change what's been successful."
Flynn said the Tigers will incorporate more shotgun formations and some rushing wrinkles. Might one of those new wrinkles, given that Crowton's offense at Oregon last season led the Pacific-10 in rushing and Flynn's ability there, be a more scrambling signal-caller?
"Maybe," he said. "There could be."
Expectations are high for the Tigers, who are ranked No. 2 in most national polls. Flynn and other players said Saturday they will set high goals for this season and be disappointed if they are not met, but they declined to specifically address the national championship.
"We know how good we can be, and it's going to be a lot of hard work," Flynn said. "I mean, every year there's high expectations for this team, so you can't listen to what people are saying, what people are projecting us to do.
"You just have to be confident in yourself and your teammates."
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