“The quarterback play, we have to get better at it,” said Miles during his opening statement at Monday’s weekly press luncheon. “I think everybody knows that.”
As quickly as he went on record about Jefferson’s poor play, Miles pulled back and defended his starting quarterback amidst a barrage of “where is Jarrett Lee” questions.
When asked if Lee – the team’s backup and one-time starter - would share snaps against Mississippi State, Miles put a lid on the conversation.
“It is a game feel and not something that we are envisioning at this point,” he said.
With a junior quarterback that often plays with the hesitancy of a freshman, the question becomes where to go from here?
“Maybe it's simplifying the game plan, or maybe it's giving him the checks that he's most comfortable with and really let him have some input on it,” Miles said.
Deep into preparation for the team’s home opener, the news back from the team’s closed practices has been positive across the board – starting with the play of Jefferson.
“He is busting his behind and doing the right things,” Miles said. “He had a really crisp practice (Wednesday).”
Last season LSU and MSU went down to the final minute, where a goalline stand by the Tigers spoiled a picture-perfect afternoon for the Bulldogs in Starkville. And while it wasn’t a banner day for LSU, Jefferson finished with a personal best 233-yard, two-touchdown performance.
A year later, Jefferson opened the MSU game week playbook to familiarity.
“I think that (MSU) is a kind of game that the checks and things we have done in the past really fit well,” Miles said. “There is not a lot of new stuff that we are putting in, and I think (Jordan) is going to be really comfortable with the calls.
“It takes some work, it’s not like we have eliminated anything in any way. It’s just the same and we think that he will be more familiar and better.”
Because of inconsistency from Jefferson, LSU’s trio of talented receivers – Terrance Toliver, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard – have combined for just 16 catches through two games, not the sort of production that Crowton and Miles envisioned given the plethora of five-star prospects at their quarterback’s disposal.
When Jefferson went into the second half against Vanderbilt and still couldn’t find his feet, Crowton – perhaps at the request of Miles – went away from Jefferson and the air game for good.
The result: the Tigers pulled away safely for the win.
“We could have thrown it a bunch more, but we didn’t,” Miles said. “We had 70 snaps to our opponents 48. We enjoyed the way that the game ended.”
When LSU gets to the meat of their schedule they won’t have the luxury of being bailed out by the ground game, meaning sub-71.0 passer rating nights need to quickly become a thing of the past. If not, Jefferson will.
For now No. 9 has the starting job and doesn’t plan to let it loose, and all Miles can do is keep the faith.
“Understand this, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked at the quarterback position, but we think that the quarterback position is going to play better,” Miles said. “We’ve put some time in and the guys are working at it hard, and we expect (Jordan) to play better.”