All things considered, they had to have been encouraged by what they saw.
Trailing 21-3 with the offense once again struggling, LSU gave Jefferson a baptism by fire when starting quarterback Jarrett Lee went down with an injury. Jefferson entered the game and responded by leading the Tigers on one of just three successful drives all night which culminated in the team’s only touchdown of the night. The struggling offense also scored 10 of its 13 points with Jefferson under center.
“We made a change at quarterback because of injury,” said LSU head coach Les Miles. “Jordan Jefferson comes in and does a heck of a job. He gave his team a real lift with his feet and the throws, and it appears to me that will be the direction we go in as we go into the future … We look forward to seeing more of Jordan Jefferson.”
Although he was pressured by the Rebels’ pass rush and held in check for most of the first half, Jefferson showed glimpses of the dual-threat abilities Tiger fans were hoping to see from former quarterback Ryan Perrilloux.
Jefferson said the situation did not overwhelm him because of his experience in limited doses earlier this season.
“I’ve played before so [the game speed] is no different,” he said. “Running the plays made me feel more confident and I was just trying to help the guys win a game.”
Jefferson outgained the rest of the LSU backfield on the ground, rushing 10 times for 51 yards. He also showed some of the passing prowess he displayed at Destrehan High School, completing 10 of 20 passes for 129 yards with a pretty touchdown to Terrance Toliver on a fade route.
Despite his youth, he said he felt comfortable with his grasp of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s playbook.
“I feel comfortable with all of [the offense]. The coaches are very confident in me,” Jefferson said. “They call the plays that I’m adapted to. They had a lot of confidence in me … calling a lot of pass plays and some running plays, just playing our style of ball.”
Jefferson’s teammates had a similar sort of confidence in the young signal caller despite his inexperience. Junior tight end Richard Dickson said Jefferson’s preparation enabled the offense to maintain its original game plan.
“I wouldn’t really say [the offense] was limited at all,” Dickson said. “We actually ran a lot of things we put in just for him. He was practicing with us all week like he was going to play, and when he got in we worked from his side of the playbook and it worked well.”
Now, even with LSU in the midst of its worst season since 2002, Jefferson said he remains confident in the prestige of the program he committed to, and is looking forward to righting the ship against Arkansas.
“Every team makes mistakes,” he said. “We made a couple of them and that’s why we practice, to correct those mistakes that we had throughout the game. We’ve got to prepare ourselves for the rest of the teams we play – when the season ends we’re going to have to work hard to make sure we have a good season next year.”
With LSU visiting Arkansas on Friday, the Tigers must make some sense of their muddied quarterback situation and quickly. Miles referred to Lee’s status as “questionable,” while saying redshirt sophomore quarterback Andrew Hatch “may be back but may not.” Hatch has not entered a game since the Oct. 25 loss to Georgia.
“With upcoming Arkansas we’re going to have to watch a lot of film on them and prepare ourselves to be victorious,” Jefferson said. “I hope Jarrett gets better but that’s the coaches’ decision. Whatever their decision is, I’ll respect that.”