“Offensively, nobody is satisfied in our building,” said LSU head coach Les Miles at his weekly press luncheon on Monday.
Translation: nobody is happy with the passing game.
Through four games, Jordan Jefferson has thrown only two touchdowns to four interceptions. His two passing scores both came in the first half against North Carolina, meaning that Jefferson hasn’t found the endzone through the air in 14 straight quarters.
Jefferson’s season high passing total: 151 yards. On the other three occasions, the junior threw for less than 100 yards. He’s been intercepted in every game but Mississippi State.
Just don't call - or boo - for the backup just yet.
Despite benching Jefferson on the second to last series against West Virginia, Miles will stick with his struggling starter – who, despite obvious missteps, remains a perfect 4-0 on the year.
“I’ve had quarterbacks that have not played well, but they seem to play better, and they seem to get better,” Miles said. “I suspect that will happen yet again.”
Jefferson was 10-for-22 passing for 75 yards and two interceptions in LSU’s 20-14 win over West Virginia on Saturday, statistically his worst outing on the year, finishing with a 55.91 passer rating and 45.5 completion percentage, both lows on the season.
While Lee stepped in for only a series and completed only one pass, his practice performances have Miles at least entertaining the idea of putting his backup – and one-time starter – into meaningful live action.
“Frankly, it’s getting closer and closer, and we like him,” Miles said. “It’s never going to be necessarily the fact that the other guy is just doing poorly. It’s with the compliment of the efforts that Jarrett Lee has. He’s worked hard at it. He has continued to compete and continues to improve, so my view is looking for opportunities to get him on the field.”
As for Jefferson’s bad night against the Mountaineers, Miles wasn’t ready to put the offensive struggles on Jefferson – at least not solely.
“Our quarterback didn’t throw three balls well at all,” Miles said. “He threw one right at them and two that were bad and need to be fixed. I can tell you that it wasn’t a great night to be a quarterback in our offense, no matter who the quarterback was.
“Anytime you are in a game where you are penalized as often as we were, that quarterback has a very difficult situation.”
The Tigers were hit with 12 penalties for 120 yards, nine more penalties than West Virginia was flagged for. As a result, Jefferson and the offense were held to 3-of-13 on third downs.
“Instead of going back there second and two, (Jefferson) is going back there at third and 12,” Miles said. “I can also immediately tell you the answer to your next question, and that is the new guy. Whoever the new guy is, we are going to send the new guy in, and he would have had a miserable night.
“At third down and eight and you rush three and drop the rest of them or you break down in the protection, that is a tough day to play quarterback.”
With LSU's defense and special teams ranked among the nation’s best, Miles said the central focus of the coming week would once more be on getting his 115th ranked passing offense on track.
“I think our team understands it,” he said. “I’m going to make that point again and again.”