BATON ROUGE (AP)—Stability at LSU's quarterback position disappeared as Zach Mettenberger launched his final college pass and then fell to the field clutching his left knee.
Some think it returned moments later when freshman backup Anthony Jennings led a 99-yard game-winning drive.
It's not that easy.
Mettenberger's season-ending injury on that pass against Arkansas two weeks ago shifts focus on the position's future a few months earlier than expected.
After all, everyone wants to know: Who will be LSU's starting quarterback next season and beyond?
While the battle for the No. 1 job won't officially begin until spring practice, coach Les Miles says, bowl practice begins Monday with a new quarterback leading drills for the first time in two years.
It is clear who that'll be: Jennings.
"Absolutely," Miles answered when asked if he expects Jennings to start No. 14 LSU's Outback Bowl game on Jan. 1 against Iowa.
The other four quarterbacks are chasing the fleet-footed young gun from Georgia in a competition that kicks off unofficially next week.
The quarterback battle will shape LSU's offense and affect its depth for years to come.
Will the Tigers switch from their recent trend — a strong-armed pocket passer with little mobility? Or will LSU return to its old form — a shifty dual-threat playmaker with quick feet?
Either way, the result is likely to send someone looking for another team.
After all, LSU is expected to have five scholarship quarterbacks on its roster when spring practice begins: redshirt sophomore Stephen Rivers, redshirt junior Rob Bolden, Jennings, true freshman Hayden Rettig and new early signee Brandon Harris.
All but one — Rivers — was a consensus four-star-rated prospect out of high school.
The same four were ranked top five at their position styles: Jennings, Harris and Bolden as "dual-threat" quarterbacks and Rettig as a "pro-style" passer.
Rivers has the best football pedigree of the lot. His brother is San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, and his father is a long-time successful high school coach in Alabama.
Rivers, Miles confirmed Sunday, has been promoted to No. 2 behind Jennings. As starter, Jennings will receive twice as many reps as he did as the backup, the coach said.
Rivers is expected to get first-string reps, too.
The bowl practice reps will set up that impending official battle in the spring.