LSU’s football team is 10-0 for the first time since 1958, ranked No. 1 in every poll imaginable and is in line for another shot at a national championship.
Yet the story that won’t go away was front and center again Monday when Les Miles met with the media.
Whether it’s a quarterback controversy, a two-QB system or perhaps just Miles’ way of keeping opponents guessing and second-guessing, one common thread is confusion about the job shared by Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.
|Les Miles and Jarrett Lee rebuilt their fractured relationship after a rugged 2008 season|
Or is that Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee? It seems murkier than ever exactly what the pecking order is for the Tigers’ QBs.
“I recognize that we have two very quality quarterbacks and both will play,” Miles said Monday. “We will consider that position and how we will go a little bit later in the week. I think it’s specific to who we play and how those guys are playing. We need both. We’ll use both.”
That’s been the case for the last six games since Jefferson returned from a suspension related an off-the-field fight outside a Baton Rouge bar.
And slowly, the roles have changed with Jefferson getting his first start last week against Western Kentucky and Lee playing only in the fourth quarter.
|Jefferson turned in his best game of the season last week in his first start|
Jefferson has his busiest and best day against the Hilltoppers with 168 passing yards and a touchdown and 20 yards rushing.
“The things that Jordan Jefferson did in that game are certainly things that we’ve seen throughout his career and certainly in his development in the last year,” Miles said. “Those things are not surprises to us.”
On a night when LSU was lethargic on both sides of the ball in the first half, Jefferson guided the Tigers to their first five touchdowns, including three in the first 16:08 of the second half.
Lee came in with 12 minutes to play and engineered a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown march to draw the praise of his coach and curious comments regretting not getting the fifth-year senior into the mix before then.
“I really enjoyed Jarrett Lee came in and moved the team,” Miles said.
“We’re very fortunate to have two quality quarterbacks.”
But would Miles rather have one he could count on to take all the snaps?
In the past, the Tigers’ coach has professed a desire to have a clear-cut starter with a strong veteran backup who could add different wrinkles when needed.
That was how Jefferson and Lee operated much of last season and they were likely headed down that same path before the arrest that decked the first third of Jefferson’s season.
|Lee was at the controls during the Tigers' 9-0 start but took a back seat against WKU|
Lee jumped in as the starter, established himself as a reliable game manager and guided the Tigers to an 8-0 record with Jefferson serving as the situational change of pace for four games.
Then in the ninth game in a battle of No. 1-ranked LSU at No. 2 Alabama, Lee never got comfortable, throwing two bad interceptions in the face of the Crimson Tide’s heavy pressure. Jefferson relieved and added a more mobile element himself and as a tandem with Michael Ford on the speed option.
Jefferson took 47 of LSU’s 58 snaps in Tuscaloosa, almost every one in the second half and provided an occasional spark.
That earned him the start against Western Kentucky – Miles shot down the rumored notion that Lee’s three-quarter absence was any kind of suspension for academic reasons – stirring up more hints of a brewing controversy.
At least with the fans.
For Miles, it’s simply a matter of circumstances – and at least with this team this season, a beneficial situation.
“I would like to have one quarterback that had the same skills and/or a second quarterback that was exactly the same as the first quarterback. You can train two quarterbacks in the exact same offense and the exact same plays and there would not necessarily a change in script.
“I think you have to have two quarterbacks and be prepared to play then in key times of a season so you can win a championship.
“I don’t necessarily have to have two quarterbacks. That’s not the issue. The issue is, I have two quarterbacks that both deserve to play and I have two quarterbacks that have differing skills. I want both those skill sets on the field. It just happens to benefit our team in a long season and hopefully in a championship run to have two quarterbacks ready to play.”