Simply put, they weren’t happy about a portion of the Tiger Stadium crowd booing Jordan Jefferson when he made his 2011 debut after missing four games while he was suspended in the wake of an arrest of second-degree felony charges.
“I’ve been in that position before,” fifth-year senior Jarrett Lee said diplomatically. “We have dedicated fans and sometimes that happens. We’ve both booed on and off the field. You just have to shake it off.”
Lee stands to be most directly affected by Jefferson’s return after an East Baton Rouge grand jury reduced the charge against him to misdemeanor simple battery. After two years as the backup quarterback, Lee took over as the starter when Jefferson was banished.
The results in those five starts have been hard to argue with: 793 passing yards, seven touchdowns, one interception and, most importantly, five victories.
If any of the boos Saturday were a reaction to Miles’ decision – or the notion that he has plans for Jefferson to step back in as the starter – he did his best to put that to rest.
“I can tell you this: Jarrett Lee is our starting quarterback,” Miles said. “He continues to play well and he continues to do the things I ask him to do. He leads our team and that’s the way we’ll go from point forward.”
One worry with Jefferson back in the mix is that Lee’s confidence may waver – that he might look over his shoulder. No worries Lee says.
“No, not at all,” Lee said. “I’m just trying to get better every week. You can’t look over your shoulder in this league. We have great guys at quarterback and you have to keep preparing hard.
“Competition always makes you better. He’s going to push us. We’re all going to push each other.”
Taken a step further, Lee welcomes Jefferson back because of what he can contribute.
Jefferson’s abilities as a runner made an immediate impact against the Wildcats when he broke off back-to-back 12-yard option-read runs for first downs.
“He’s made big plays in big ballgames the last three years,” Lee said. “He’s got a great attitude and he’s a smart quarterback Sometimes on the field there’s some things you don’t see that the other guys does see.”
Defensive end Sam Montgomery said he was “surprised a lot” by the adverse crowd reaction, but liked what he saw as Jefferson’s first snap of the season unfolded.
“When Jordan Jefferson scored that touchdown and Jarrett Lee celebrated, that’s when I knew right there that the word team means so much more,” Montgomery said.
As for Jefferson’s psyche, Miles isn’t worried if the booing crowd will create a lingering effect.
The two-year starter coming into this season, Jefferson is likely to hear and see much more than boos – much worse – when the Tigers go on the road this season.
“He’s taken defensive ends on, he’s taken linebackers on and I suspect that he can handle 2,500 fans that are just a little disposed to bemoan a guy who’s busted his tail to do everything he could do for LSU,” Miles said.
Growing fan club
Freshman receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s flare for big plays has blossomed the last two weeks with touchdown catches for 52 and 51 yards, LSU’s two longest plays of the season.
On both receptions, Beckham turned short first-down gaining throws into electrifying scoring plays.
En route to the dazzling 51-yard TD Saturday, he angled across the field and either juked or blazed by five would-be tacklers.
“During the play I thought he was going to get stopped four or five times,” offensive guard Will Blackwell said. “After watching the replay, I think it was maybe seven or eight. I’m pretty sure everybody on the defense got a hand on him at some point.”
Just in a day’s work, the soft-spoken Beckham insisted.
“I’m just trying to make plays,” said Beckham, who leads the Tigers with 20 catches (268 yards). “That’s why the coaches put me out there, so that’s what I try to do.”
Another one of those playmakers has taken notice.
Mathieu was just as interested in talking up Beckham, though.
“I stood up on the bleachers and watched that play and said ‘Wow!’ ” Mathieu said. “That guy is going to be a star. He already is.”
That’s what he has been molded to be, Montgomery said.
“Great plays like that are expected,” Montgomery said of Beckham. “It’s not about age, it’s not about class. It’s something where we see someone who’s special … we grab those people and we train their minds to make adult plays like that, great plays.”
There were no official visitors at the LSU-Kentucky game, but several in-state prospects were at Tiger Stadium on their own dime.
The highest profile guest was five-star Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, who will be back in Baton Rouge next weekend for his official visit. Collins debated attending Alabama’s game at Florida, but opted to remain close to home after playing at Destrehan on Friday night.
Collins said that LSU and Alabama remain his leaders, and he plans on being in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5 for the matchup between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.
Other LSU commitments in attendance included Collins’ Dutchtown teammate Dwayne Thomas, West St. Mary’s lineman Jerald Hawkins, Hahnville safety Jerqwinick Sandolph and Breaux Bridge wide receivers Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes.
Loranger athlete Jeryl Brazil, the lone pledge the Tigers have picked up for the Class of 2013, was also in the stands. Other 2013 prospects on hand: McDonogh 35 lineman Kenneth Santa Maria, Redemptorist athlete Donald Gage and Walker High running back Carlton Perkins.
LSU (5-0, 2-0) SEC gets a much tougher challenge this week when Florida (4-1, 2-1) visits Tiger Stadium Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. showdown.
The Gators suffered the first loss of the Will Muschamp era on Saturday, 38-10 to No. 3-ranked Alabama in Gainesville.
“We always look forward to those kinds of games, those dynamic offenses,” Mathieu said.
“A lot of our guys look for that play that can be incredible.”
Les Miles describing Beckham’s touchdown
“I was born to be a Tiger.”
Odell Beckham Jr., whose father Odell Beckham was an LSU running back from 1989-92 and mother, Heather Van Norman, was an All-American sprinter during a span from 1991-93 when LSU won three straight national crowns.
Offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert sat out Saturday’s win after suffering a concussion at West Virginia. Miles said he hopes the Tigers’ starting left guard could be ready to play against Florida. With Hebert out, Blackwell started at left guard and Josh Williford took his place at right guard.
Safety Craig Loston also sat out after he needed help off the field at WVU with a concussion after a nasty hit on special teams.
Moving the chains
--- Mathieu forced two fumbles Saturday, the 8th and 9th of his career. The first established a new school record in Mathieu’s 18th career game. Including the one he pounced on for the touchdown Saturday, Mathieu has recovered five of the loose balls he’s forced.
--- For the first time this season, defensive backs did not lead LSU in tackles. Montgomery and linebackers Kevin Minter and Ryan Baker set the pace with 6 stops apiece. Mathieu was the first DB in the pecking order with 5.
--- LSU’s defense has held opponents scoreless in 15 of 20 quarters this season.
--- After Mathieu’s defensive touchdown, the Tigers have scored 57 points on 12 takeaways this season.
--- Jefferson’s 1-yard sneak for a TD was LSU’s first fourth-down try this season. It was the 10th rushing score of his career, tied for fifth on the program’s all-time list for QB touchdowns with current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger.
--- Beckham’s consecutive games with TDs of 50-plus yards are the first for a Tiger since Bennie Brazell snared a 55-yard bomb against Ole Miss on Nov. 19, 2005, and then a 50-yard strike the following week against Arkansas.
--- Kentucky’s first nine passes were incomplete and the Wildcats failed to convert on their first eight third downs.
--- Four UK players finished with double-digit tackle totals. Linebacker Danny Trevathan led the way with 13 to increase his SEC-leading total to 59, Winston Guy recorded 12, Ronnie Seed had 11 and Martavius Neloms was in on 10 stops.