Has anyone got an extra quarterback?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2000

Is it really fair to blame the quarterback for a team’s bad record?

I mean, there are 10 other guys on the offense, 11 more on defense, a host of special teamers and an entire coaching staff that all play a role in whether a team wins or loses.

Well, if you’re an LSU or a Saints fan, blaming the quarterback is not only fair – it’s necessary.

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I’ll start with the bumbling Bayou Bengals of LSU. If I sound particularly venomous about the Tigers, it’s because I just watched LSU for the first time this year and was treated to a 41-9 loss to the hated Florida Gators.

Admittedly, LSU has problems besides the quarterback position. But you take away the Tigers’ four interceptions, I think you have a different ball game.

The ailing Rohan Davey threw his first interception in a Tiger uniform early in the second half during a drive that would have brought LSU within a touchdown had it been successful.

Coach Nick Saban put Josh Booty in to no doubt provide a spark to the offense and rest the obviously hurt Davey. Booty responded as he has all year – throwing interceptions.

Yesterday’s three picks gives Booty 10 for the year, a pace that would shatter last year’s dubious mark of 19.

Booty’s first two against Florida both came during promising drives that might have at least swung the momentum in LSU’s favor. But alas, we’ll never know.

Some would say that Davey’s pick and Booty’s first two were not their fault; that linemen blew their blocks and pressure caused the errant throws.

Baloney. Good quarterbacks can sense pressure. They step up and make a throw or they tuck it and run.

If Davey’s too hurt to run, he shouldn’t be in. If Booty can’t make a quick throw to anyone but a Florida middle linebacker, then he shouldn’t be in either.

I know that puts LSU in bind. It’s not like they have free agency and cash to lure good quarterbacks to the team. It’s not like they’ve had about a thousand losing seasons and corresponding great draft picks to try to bring along a long-term quarterback prospect.

No friends, that is the situation of the ever-awful New Orleans Saints.

I was as excited as anyone when the Saints signed Jeff Blake. Compared to the other free agent quarterbacks, this guy was a gem.

But there was a small voice in my head (why did the Bengals draft Akili Smith) that worried that Blake wasn’t the answer. It worried that Blake (the Bengals have had a worse record that the Saints with Blake at the helm) was too old to learn any new tricks in New Orleans.

Well here we are – 1-3 despite the No. 1 defense in all the land, Ricky Williams producing back-to-back 100-yard games, and Joe Horn second among NFC receivers in catches.

Why the three losses? I notice Blake is the second-to-last rated passer in the NFC, second only to the brain-addled Troy Aikman, who has suffered too many concussions to know how bad he’s playing.

So the Saints’ record is all Blake fault? No, I can’t say that. The Saints might as well not have a tight end this season, and their offensive line has underachieved this season.

And let’s not forget what may possibly be the worst special teams unit in the history of the sport.

But I don’t think Blake is a part of the solution. I’m pretty leery of Jake Delhomme and Aaron Brooks leading the Saints to play-off glory, as well.

I think we need to accept this season for what it was supposed to be – a rebuilding year. We need to accept the losing record and do something drastic in next year’s draft – take a quarterback in the first round.

As long as it isn’t Booty.

Nick Adams is sports editor at The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3632, or by e-mail at nick.adams@natchezdemocrat.com.