A good, ol’ fashioned quarterback debate?
You could call it that - just not the standard variety.
Like it or not, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson will likely both play in every game left on the LSU schedule. The two senior quarterbacks have seen action every Saturday since Jefferson returned from suspension in the fifth week of the season.
But in Saturday’s 42-9 win over Western Kentucky, Jefferson – for the first time all season – got the start.
Through nine weeks of the season, LSU coach Les Miles called it Lee’s team. But on Saturday, it was Jefferson’s.
Now it’s up in the air which quarterback will be the first to the field when LSU travels to Oxford, Miss., next weekend.
“The decision made by the staff and myself on the quarterbacks was a one-game decision,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We’ll kind of go from there.
“Nothing is in stone in any way.”
Beyond being named starter, it was the length of time that Jefferson stayed on the field that left some fans scratching their heads.
On a night when the Tigers came out sluggish before putting away the Hilltoppers in the second half, Jefferson took every snap until Lee stepped in with 12 minutes left and the win already well in hand at 35-9.
“Early on it was a little more blitz and come after you, and we liked Jefferson in there in that situation,” Miles said. “We thought that we might go with Lee a little earlier than that. Western Kentucky proved that they could throw some wrinkles at us that we did not anticipate.”
In the postgame press conference, Miles told reporters that the coaching staff decided to go with Jefferson over Lee towards the end of the game week.
“We kind of like how Jefferson played in the last game (against Alabama),” Miles said. “I felt like he had an extra comfort.”
It might have been even more about how Lee played against the Crimson Tide. Lee finished 3-of-9 passing for 24 yards and two interceptions. He had only been intercepted once entering the game.
There were media reports after the game that Lee’s absence was because of a string of missed classes, but Miles made no mention of that being the case.
With the change in order, Miles said he had a conversation with Lee to describe his weekend plans.
“It was a game decision,” Miles said. “We described to Jarrett that he would play.
“Frankly, we would have considered him from the third series on.”
Jefferson finished 8-of-14 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed five times for a net gain of 20 yards.
In Lee’s only action, a 14-play, 82-yard fourth quarter scoring drive, the senior was 2-of-4 passing for 15 yards and a touchdown, and he added 15 yards on the ground.
“I certainly liked how both quarterbacks played,” Miles said. “Lee came in, took us down the field and did some of the things we asked him to do.
“I can tell you that we are in a position where we have two quarterbacks, and we certainly intend to use them both.”
Of course, Miles isn’t ready to name a permanent starter in the always-spinning LSU quarterback wheel.
“Depending on the style of defense that we are playing, I’m not certain who would start,” he said.
If you ask the players, the song remains the same.
Neither Lee nor Jefferson were made available to the media, but veteran players close to the quarterbacks – like fifth-year senior offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert and junior wide receiver Rueben Randle – said the team enjoys using both senior quarterbacks.
“This is one of those things where we have two great quarterbacks, and both of them can play,” Hebert said. “You just have to trust the coaches. They have made the right decisions up to this point. They are going to do the right thing.
“Anybody who wants to make this into a Jarrett-Jordan drama is just looking for drama for drama’s sake. This team just wants to come out and win every week. Everyone is dedicated, no matter how it has to happen.”
Randle added: “They aren’t really in a competition. When they get to play, they make the most of it. We have two great quarterbacks that can step in at any time.”
Second-half about-face Recruiting notebook