Though Jordan Jefferson played in a total of seven games in 2008, the only two worth note were the Tigers’ final pair of games: in Little Rock against Arkansas and in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.
In his only two starts, Jefferson hit on 25-of-46 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns – splitting the contests at one a piece. After losing Andrew Hatch to injury and seeing Jarrett Lee caught in a downward spiral, the freshman’s error-free play was just what a broken offense needed.
Since that final night of 2008, Jefferson has had all eyes on Sep. 5. When head coach Les Miles pulled Jefferson – then caught in a position battle with Lee - aside in spring camp, the conversation left the Tiger quarterback hungrier than ever.
“[Miles] let me know I would be the starter, and he let me know things that I had to do over the summer to become a better player; and I did that,” Jefferson said. “I noticed that I had to prepare to become a great quarterback this year, and that helped me stay focused on what I had to do.
“Studying was my main focus.”
While Jefferson showed over the final two games that he could get out of the pocket and run, his chance to display his abilities through the air was held in check. Thanks to plenty of studying, that won’t be the case on Saturday.
“The Arkansas game I had a small packages that we would run,” Jefferson said. “With Georgia Tech I had a couple of weeks to prepare, and the weeks went on and the playbook expanded. Now I have a good feel for everything.
“This year, I am a lot smarter with my game,” he added. “I watch film for small things the defense does, whether they drop ends or safety blitz; just things defenses do that can help me out when I am in the game.”
Priority number one for offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is certainly to eliminate turnovers from the quarterback spot, which proved too much for Lee to handle during his redshirt freshman campaign.
Jefferson said that the same mistakes would not happen again.
“I am focused on being a leader on offense,” he said. “I want to control the offense. Go down and score is the main perspective. I just want to break apart the defense and do everything we can to score. I feel a lot more comfortable, and I am really excited about playing the first game. I am ready to show everyone what we have.”
Headed into a huddle with offensive veterans like Ciron Black, Charles Scott and Richard Dickson, Jefferson said that he is more at home than ever in his role as the unit’s headman.
“I got a feel for it last year when I played with them, and they all trust me,” he said. “They are great guys and great players, and I just have to feed them the ball. They get open, and I will get it to them at all times.
“I didn’t get many reps last year, and this year I get every other rep,” he added. “That is big for me.”
With a chance of showers on the radar, Miles and the staff have implemented wet-ball opportunities into their game preparation. Though the Tigers will certainly err on the side of caution, the reigns on Crowton’s plan of attack will not be pulled.
“I can’t worry about the weather,” Jefferson said. “I played in the Arkansas game, and it was kind of misty. I still had to do what I had to do. No matter the weather, we will run our offensive scheme.”