Has the time come?

When freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson signed with the LSU football program back in February, he did so with the foresight that he would take a redshirt, pick up a clipboard and learn offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's spread system.

When Tiger head coach Les Miles dismissed Ryan Perrilloux from the team prior to the start of the season, Jefferson moved a bit closer to the field.


Still, sitting behind two older quarterbacks, Jefferson entered the season without much thought of ever leading the defending national champions down the field at Death Valley.


Fast forward to the present and a three-loss LSU team is down two quarterbacks, losing junior Andrew Hatch to a leg injury suffered during the Oct. 25 Georgia game.


With Jefferson the only viable option remaining behind struggling starter Jarrett Lee, Miles feels that the time to give the Destrehan-native a stronger look is now.


Jefferson saw some mop-up action against North Texas and Tulane, and got on the field for one play against Mississippi State. The Tiger head coach talked about giving Jefferson some action last week against Alabama, but that didn’t come to fruition.


Several factors have led to the headman being hesitant about throwing Jefferson into the fire and one is the limited amount of practice reps the young signal caller received earlier in the season.


"Until Andrew exited, [Jefferson] was getting a very small percentage of the plays," Miles said. "Some of the handoffs to the run and some checks and he'd throw some one-on-one, but seldom would he get into even our seven-on-seven.


"Now, as the second quarterback he's getting at minimum half the reps," Miles added. "Half the reps in the seven-on-seven and a lot of the team reps. He's much more prepared, and again, he's in every meeting and as time goes on for a young guy, it allows him to gain experience, and that's the piece we're at now."


With the pieces in place, the only thing left is for Jefferson to take advantage of the opportunity if it presents itself.


While he has yet to be given that opportunity to prove himself at the college level, his high school billing could not have been more successful.


The 6-4, 210-pound rifleman was voted Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana as a senior and took home several other awards as well. He finished his career with 4,446 yards and 44 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes. The key stat, however, was that he only tossed seven interceptions in 433 passes over a two-year period.


"Jordan is an amazing quarterback," said Destrehan head coach Steve Robichaux. "We all saw that during his time at Destrehan. He won a state championship and never lost a football game in two years as a starter.


"The thing I think that LSU will get out of him when he gets the chance to get out there is that he takes care of the ball really well," Robichaux added. "He only threw three interceptions in two seasons as a starter."


In addition, Jefferson's athletic ability should help the Tigers to become even more multi-dimensional when he lines up under center or in the shotgun.


"I think Jordan will give us a lot with his feet," Miles said. "I think he's the kind of guy who will stand back there and throw it in there and if he does not have the opportunity to make the throw, when he pulls it down, you'll notice a great speed and athleticism which you'll enjoy. I think there will be some option and probably some quarterback carry when we put him in the game."


"He's real athletic and he's able to make a lot of plays just with his feet alone," said senior defensive end Tyson Jackson. "With his size he's able to see the field and get the ball to the receivers."


The receiving corps, led by senior Demetrius Byrd and junior Brandon LaFell, has seen sporadic production behind the arm of Lee.


With Jefferson thrown into the mix, the Tigers will hope to capitalize on the change of pace that he provides.


"It will help out a whole lot and balance the offense out and make people think," Byrd said. "Most people see us as we don't have a quarterback that is going to get out and run so they can send everything at us."


"It's real important to keep Jarrett in there to pump his confidence back up," LaFell said. "But it's also important to get Jordan in there to get him some game experience and see if we can add another dimension with his legs, kind of similar to Hatch."


Robichaux points to Jefferson's senior season at Destrehan as the turning point to the player he has become as a freshman at LSU.


"He went down with an injury his junior year," Robichaux said. "From there he just came back a lot bigger and stronger. His junior season he was sitting back in the pocket a lot, but last season we saw him really use his feet to get out of the pocket and make some plays running the ball. He had become a better athlete, and not just a quarterback. I think he has all the tools now."


The Tigers are hoping that having Lee on the sidelines while Jefferson shares snaps will give the starting quarterback a chance to see things from a different perspective.


"I think it will help [Lee] a lot," Byrd said. "It will take a little pressure off of him sometimes. It will help him out just like last year when Matt [Flynn] was in and they took him out to put [Ryan] Perrilloux in to run some plays."


Junior running back Charles Scott remains grounded in what to expect from the freshman if he gets a chance to take the field.


"I don't think he knows the offense well enough to come in and take over the game," Scott said. "That's the main thing that's holding him back right now. All the talent is there, but if you can't get in there and mentally make the checks you need to make, the talent is useless. If you can't put people in the right places and get the ball to the right place, all that talent is useless."


Regardless, Scott remains interested as to what Jefferson can do when the ball is in his hands.


"We're kind of curious," Scott said. "He can run the ball pretty fast and has a strong arm. It depends on how he gets in there and reacts to live fire.


"I think the best way to learn is baptism by fire," Scott added. "It's starting to get to the point of the season where you want somebody to play and see if they make a difference with the team, see what they can do in a real situation."


Whether the true freshman is ready or not remains to be seen, but there will be a lot of people in the stands hoping to hear Jefferson’s number called at some point on Saturday.


"I think there will be things that Jordan is really good at," Miles said. "I think it'll be a cross section of the offense. I don't know if it's as clean as Andrew Hatch's and Jarrett's definition would be, but he really took a lot of snaps last week, and he's really improving. We really think he's readier now than he's been. We are going to take a cross section of our offense and the things that he does best and do it and see how he plays.


"I think he's plenty talented enough," Miles added. "That's not the issue. It's making sure he's comfortable to do things we're going to ask him to do."

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