Spring Football Preview: QB

With spring football set to begin at the end of the month, the quarterback spot is a position many fans have their eyes on. Here is part one in a series on each position battle.

The name that leads the pack is Jordan Jefferson, who started 12 games in 2009 after just a pair of starts in 2008.

The young arm that fans are anxious to see is that of Chris Garrett. Garrett redshirted during his freshman campaign last fall, but strong spring and fall workouts prior to the season left a lasting impression.

Jarrett Lee, the wildcard name of the bunch, returns for his junior season after playing backup to Jefferson for a year. Just two seasons ago, Lee went through eight games as offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s starting quarterback.

Will the race be open for competition, or does Jefferson’s double-digit starts give him the go-ahead to hold the reigns for another year?

“To deny competition is a mistake, but it would also be a mistake to think Jordan Jefferson is not really improved, and not going to be a very fine quarterback for the next two years,” said LSU head coach Les Miles.

Here is TigerSportsDigest.com’s look at each player in the race:

Jordan Jefferson

6’5”, 220, Junior

St. Rose, La.

Last season: 182-for-296 for 2,166 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Outlook: Despite at times taking heat for his decision making last season, Jefferson should enter the spring practice year with a leg up on the competition.

Headed into his junior year, Jefferson has now logged 14 starts over two seasons. Over the run Jefferson has a 9-5 record.

While the offense finished among the worst in all of football, not all the woes can be pinned on the quarterback. Jefferson’s biggest challenge will be his ability to let loose within the offense. Last spring, Crowton pressed Jefferson to not make the same mistakes Lee made the year prior. In turn, the sophomore quarterback took a hesitant approach to his aerial attack. If LSU hopes to finish near the top of the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division in 2010, that will need to change.

Words from Miles: On what Jefferson must improve…

“Styles of throws become easier with age and experience of a quarterback,” Miles said. “I saw a couple of throws he completed in the [Penn State game] that if he had stridden out and hit it a little more in his chest it would have been caught down the field. That comes from experience, and it’s something that needs work.

“He needs to know what’s open based on the way that defense moved,” he added. “It’s not that he passed on open receivers, but more understanding what the movement of the defense actually gave him. Intuitively knowing the deep throw on the outside third is there as opposed to seeing a guy being covered and not realizing when that safety came off the hash it was a one on one throw and that’s where he had to go.”

Jarrett Lee

6’2”, 225, Junior

Brenham, Texas

Last season: 16-of-40 for 197 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Lee waited on the sidelines behind Jefferson last fall

Outlook: After Lee stumbled to the tune of 16 picks in 2008, many wondered if the Lone Star State product would get a second chance with the Tiger program.

This past year, Lee started in place of the injured Jefferson against Louisiana Tech. His night was a slow one, completing 7-of-22 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. When he came off the bench for Jefferson the week prior against Alabama, Lee saw the LSU lead disappear as he went 4-for-10 for 44 yards and an interception.

On board for another run in 2010, Lee will now have to battle not just Jefferson but Garrett as well. One thing is certain, Lee has never disappointed in the practice setting. Last spring and fall, Lee consistently showed the best arm. The ability to move through his progressions is another area that Lee arguably holds the upper hand on Jefferson in. 

Whether he can convince the Tiger coaching staff that he can be trusted on Saturdays is something that Lee will have to prove next fall. In the coming months, he must first play well enough to create separation with Jefferson. In terms of opportunities to get back under center, Lee’s clock is ticking.

Chris Garrett

6’4”, 235, Freshman

Tupelo, Miss.

Last season: Freshman.

Garrett will have plenty of eyes on his play this spring

Outlook: Thanks to early enrollment, Garrett has been with the Tiger football team an entire calendar year. In his first spring, Garrett flashed a big arm to go along with his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame. When fall ball rolled around, the 18-year old quarterback came with another string of solid showings.

Headed into his second spring, Tiger fans are anxious for the coaching staff to let Garrett loose alongside Jefferson in a quarterback battle. While Miles kept the race open last spring, Jefferson’s 12 starts since lend you to believe that the offseason race won’t go down as it did in 2009.

All the while, Garrett’s tremendous knowledge of the game – coupled with a season spent watching from the sidelines – makes him a viable candidate for the backup spot. The wear and tear of the SEC already proved too much for Jefferson to last from wire to wire once, so the Tigers will need an arm like Garrett’s ready.

High School Stats: As a senior, Garrett completed 127-of-220 passes for 1,901 yards and 28 total touchdowns.

T.C. McCartney

6’3”, 226, Junior

Boulder, Colo.

Outlook: McCartney, a walk-on who has been with the team for three seasons, serves as the squad-team quarterback.

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