Back Joe Burrow on the Rise

Back To SEC

Joe Burrow on the Rise

By BJ Bennett
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page

Joe Burrow returns as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the SEC, with a trajectory that very much mirrors his team's.

At first glance, it's easy to scout LSU and see another edition of the program blueprint; the Tigers will again be physical at the point of attack, athletic out wide and downright dominant at football's timeless fundamentals. With the return of quarterback Joe Borrow, however, this LSU side is worth a second look. The former Ohio State-transfer returns as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the SEC, with a trajectory that very much mirrors his team's.

Earning MVP honors by completing 21-of-34 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns in a high-profile PlayStation Fiesta Bowl triumph over undefeated Central Florida, Burrow, simply put, had one of the best quarterback performances of the entire bowl season. He ended his first year at LSU with the best outing of his career, also ending the longest winning streak in all of college football. Burrow's showcase out west has him positioned to emerge as a national name this fall, likely for a final four contender.

The record-setting grand finale, for Burrow, was the culmination of a strong finish overall. After LSU's disappointing shutout loss to Alabama, he responded to complete 67% of his passes for 1,166 yards with ten touchdowns and one interception over the Tigers' last four games, adding, in an overtime loss at Texas A&M, 100 rushing yards and three more scores. Beyond Burrow's athletic abilities, comfortability and confidence became part of his skill set later in the year.

Burrow, after transitioning to a new team and role, settled in and stepped up in Baton Rouge. He scored ten total touchdowns with zero 250-yard passing games in his first nine games at LSU, compared to 13 scores over his last four, closing out the year with 307, 270 and 394 yards through the air, respectively. All of Burrow's options at wide receiver return, most notably standout Justin Jefferson. Hence the high expectations for this fall.

What is interesting about Burrow is his efficiency last season was more notable than it may seem. Three Power Five signal callers had a year with at least 2,800 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions: Trevor Lawrence, Sam Ehlinger and Burrow. Before that group, the previous ten P5 quarterbacks to meet those distinctions were all selected in the NFL Draft: Mason Rudolph, Dak Prescott, C.J. Beathard, Brad Kaaya, Marcus Mariota (2x), Cody Kessler, Brett Hundley, Bryce Petty, Teddy Bridgewater and A.J. McCarron.

The end result of Burrow's LSU debut, with the Tigers going 10-3 and finishing as high as sixth in the national polls, was history. Individually, he became the first LSU quarterback ever with 2,500 passing yards and 350 rushing yards in a season, finishing second on the all-time charts with 3,292 total yards. Along the way, Burrow became the first LSU quarterback ever to lead the Tigers to wins over four top ten opponents. In a year where he set or tied eight different school marks, Burrow was named a permanent team captain for the 2018 season. 

Burrow, overcoming adversity early, earned his prominence and production alike.

Accolades aside, Burrow is a football player. His father Jimmy has been the long-time defensive coordinator at Ohio. Joe's older brothers Jamie and Dan both played at Nebraska. All of that moxie and toughness was on clear display late last year.  

LSU is a team many are talking about this pre-season and for good reason. With blue-chip recruits everywhere, Ed Orgeron has one of the nation's most talented rosters. The defense, led by stars like safety Grant Delpit, corner Kristian Fulton and lineman Rashard Lawrence, is as good as it gets. Burrow is a big reason for optimism as well. With him in rhythm, the Tigers lost just once down the stretch of last year; it was in a game where they scored 72 points.

Entering this past season as a question mark, Burrow finished it with an exclamation point. He is now a key leader for a team with national championship aspirations.

There is a lot to like with LSU, quarterback included.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports