If you’re expecting Jarrett Lee to push Jordan Jefferson into the same dark corner of the bench that Lee inhabited in 2009, Les Miles will end the suspense.
Jefferson and Lee will both get snaps on the road this weekend when LSU meets 7-0 Auburn, and both will likely get their piece of the gameplan in the team’s remaining Southeastern Conference bouts – a stretch that includes Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas.
“We need both skill sets,” Miles said on Monday. “I think we are going to stay that way. I think there is time for this to play out.”
The struggles from Jefferson are as bad as they have ever been, making it a call that the fan base hasn’t welcomed with open arms.
While he remains the team’s starter and has rotated in with Lee in each of the last three games, Jefferson hasn’t thrown for a touchdown since the first half of the first game of the season, and he has thrown for over 100 yards only twice.
Against McNeese State he netted only four total yards on 12 snaps, and his 5-of-8 passing night ended in just 28 yards.
“We're seeing the ability to throw the football in practice, it just needs to manifest itself in the game,” said Miles in defense of keeping the junior involved. “It needs to show up.”
Miles didn’t let Lee of the hook, either.
Against the weakest competition the junior has faced in five appearances this fall, Lee was 9-of-14 passing for 75 yards and no touchdowns – statistically his worst game on the year.
“I think both quarterbacks will eventually get there,” Miles said. “It would be timely certainly this weekend.”
Fortunately, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton always seems to have an effective gameplan against the War Eagles.
LSU beat Auburn 31-10 last season and 30-24 in the national championship season. The last time the Tigers went to Jordan-Hare, Lee stepped into the first live action of his college career to lead LSU to a 26-21 comeback win on a night where he passed for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
This year Lee already has few comeback wins under his belt, but he remains relegated to a back-and-forth role. While Miles was unsure if the situation would stick, he maintained that it wasn’t about keeping the leash on Lee – who falls victim to the snowball effect once the turnovers come.
“I don't think we are really trying to reign him in, in any way,” Miles said. “I just think we are trying to allow the development to continue, but he'll have his chances. We think he's improved, and again, I think it will all play out.
“Would we like to have one guy? Yes, but honestly I like the two that we have. They just need to continue to improve, and knowing that they are both going to see action gives them great incentive to do so.”