Interceptions were once the low-point for Jarrett Lee, pick sixes in particular.
This fall the nightmare moment was a particular play, a snap that ended in Lee not throwing a pass at all. When the junior quarterback scrambled left on a fourth down and ran the ball out of bounds short of the sticks, Auburn took over the football and never gave it back.
“I wish I could have that one back,” Lee said.
The play appeared doomed from the start.
Coming out of a timeout, the Tigers looked confused. Russell Shepard wasn’t on the field when the offense went back to the field, and the sophomore receiver’s late arrival sent Terrance Toliver running confused pre-snap.
Miles debated calling a second timeout, but instead gave Lee the go-ahead on a play that finished as badly as it started.
“They went two-man, and Terrance was manned up and I feel comfortable with Terrance versus man,” he said. “The defender got in front of him, so it wasn’t there and I didn’t want to force anything.”
The result became a failed attempt to get the six yards on the ground, seeing Lee come up halfway and out of bounds.
Hit with injuries and carrying a loss on their record for the first time this season, the week nine bye couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
For the quarterbacks, it means extra hours in the film room.
“It’s very big, because game film and the classroom is real key,” Lee said. “We watched film on Auburn these last couple days. And playing a big time team in Alabama, we have a lot of film to watch, but it helps to have a week off going into this one.”
Lee said that he will continue to split time with Jefferson in practice this week, and the current plans are for their two-man attack to continue going forward. While the masses have expressed their distaste, Lee and Jefferson remain believers.
“I think it’s mental preparation, and even standing on the sidelines in certain situations is key,” Lee said. “I think it’s very beneficial. You have to make the most of it. Certain situations when Jordan is in there and they do a certain thing, then you get in there and they are doing the exact same thing, you should be able to pick it up and hurt them on it.”
Lee, the passing threat between the two, has been hot in spurts. After passing just twice across the first four games, Lee went 16-of-23 for 185 yards against Tennessee. On the road at Florida the following Saturday, he led the team on the game-winning drive for the second time in two weeks, this time throwing for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Then came games against McNeese State and Auburn, where Lee didn’t complete double-digit passes, never threw for over 100 yards and didn’t record a touchdown.
Bouncing back against Alabama will take all the extra prep hours that Lee can find. The Tide, also in a bye week, enter the week ranked as the SEC’s No. 4 pass defense and No. 2 total defense.
“Anytime you play Alabama and Nick Saban, that crew will get after you,” Lee said. “You have to be on your A-game and watch film on them and understand they are physical fast and smart.”