The question is bound to be asked of Les Miles today, and depending on his mood, might be answered.
Better bet is that Miles will sidestep as much as possible what looms large now for top-ranked LSU moving forward: Who is the starting quarterback.
Jarrett Lee had been splendid for eight games, managing the Tigers’ offense to bear perfection with a minimum of mistakes and shay decisions.
That screeched to a halt against Alabama with two really bad interceptions. And he understandably was replaced by Jordan Jefferson, sporadically in the first half and for good in the second half.
“I just kind of felt like, in this game, a couple of scrambles made differences,” Miles said. “Just moving the chains in this game may well have been an advantage. (Jefferson) gave us a little something there.”
What Jefferson gave LSU, or at least lent a huge hand toward, was a massive, season-defining victory against the No. 2-ranked team in the country and the best defense the Tigers will see the rest of this season and maybe for years to come.
Jefferson wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. He finished 6-of-10 passing for 67 yards and ran 10 times for 43 yards.
But the one-time starter delivered two of LSU’s two biggest offensive plays with a 34-yard pass to Russell Shepard that set up a game-tying field goal right before halftime and an 18-yard scramble late in regulation that got the Tigers out of trouble and Brad Wing a chance to punt from near midfield.
Jefferson should have had a touchdown pass on a throw that clanged off Rueben Randle’s hands in the end zone shortly after the throw to Shepard.
As Miles said, Jefferson’s biggest value was his mobility and sometimes just the threat of it, especially on option runs when the aggressive Crimson Tide defense had to step back and wait to see where the ball was going and with whom.
That option wrinkle hasn’t always been popular with LSU fans, but it was a major element to the win Saturday and should be a staple of the offense moving forward because of how well Ford and Jefferson team up to run it. Ford has gotten better at being decisive on when and where to cut as well. There are also different wrinkles upon that wrinkle that be incorporated against defenses not as tenacious as Bama’s.
|LSU's Jarrett Lee: Step in the wrong direction against Alabama|
Assuming then that Jefferson’s role will continue to increase, where does that leave Lee? Is he still the starter or does he now take a step back and become the situational QB?
For what and who the Tigers face the rest of this season, I think the best option is to stick with Lee as the starter because LSU will have to throw the ball to get where it wants to go. It may be throwing out of the play-action, and that’s where Lee has a decided advantage over Jefferson – just as distinct as Jefferson’s edge as the more mobile threat.
Jefferson has seemingly handled his role as the backup fairly well and if he can continue to manage that dynamic, he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to make meaningful impacts in games.
But Lee got LSU to 8-0 – 4-0 without Jefferson – and deserved a shot to get back on the horse after his dismal day in Tuscaloosa when he completed only one more pass to his teammates than the guys in red.
Miles was fairly non-committal about any looming changes when asked about it Saturday.
“We’ve gotten this far with two quarterbacks,” he said. “He’s made a tremendous contributions; he will continue to be a key contributor. I really haven’t given any thought to it more than that.”
A day and a half has passed since then, though – plenty of time for thought and evaluation.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Miles’ response will be.