KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - When he met with the media Oct. 3 for the first (and, so far, only) time since his reinstatement, LSU senior Jordan Jefferson said one of his goals was to regain his position as the team’s starting quarterback.
Jefferson seemingly took some significant steps toward that end in Saturday’s 38-7 pasting of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.
Jarrett Lee, who led the Tigers to a 4-0 start and a No. 1 ranking after Jefferson was arrested for his alleged role in an off-campus bar fight, gave up only a few snaps to Jefferson against Kentucky on Oct. 1 and then a much larger portion in a rout of Florida last week.
Saturday, Lee completed eight of 12 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, turning in one of his best performances as LSU built a 17-7 lead.
Jefferson entered to start the second half. He took 23 of LSU’s 38 snaps the rest of the way.
“I like using both quarterbacks. I think that’s what’s best - what we need to do,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I think both guys can do different things. We will continue to do that. I think there’s a want for both guys to have success and, certainly, to have team success.”
Asked why he gave Jefferson the nod to start the second half, Miles seemed confused.
“Some of the things that he does coming off the goal line, we felt like gave us an advantage,” Miles said. “Something he’s practiced and is comfortable at - that little sneak off the goal line. It started that way. Kind of had his name on it.”
LSU’s first drive of the second half began at its own 34. Its second drive began at its own 1.
Lee, who started only the last of LSU’s three possessions after halftime, said he learned during second-half warm-ups that Jefferson would start the third quarter.
Miles answered tersely when asked how he broke the news to Lee that Jefferson would start the second half.
“There wasn’t any ?not starting the second half,’” he said. “We got the ball on the goal line and we’re coming off the 1-yard line. The play we were going to call was going to have 9 (Jefferson) in it.
“It had nothing to do with ?you’re not starting the second half.’ We took a play. It turned into a drive.”
LSU did not make Jefferson, reinstated Sept. 28 after his charges stemming from the bar fight were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, available to the media after Saturday’s game.
Lee said he has no issue with Jefferson eating into his playing time.
“Whatever needs to happen for us to win,” Lee said. “Jordan came in and did a great job tonight. I’m not concerned at all. He brings something else to the table athletically. You saw him run the ball tonight. That’s something he does a little bit better.”
To hear their teammates tell it, Lee and Jefferson make the perfect pair. Two is better than one.
“It’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators trying to prepare for us,” junior receiver Russell Shepard said.
Jefferson completed just one of three passes Saturday for 8 yards, but he continued to be effective running the ball. He carried 14 times for 73 yards and a touchdown, finishing behind only Spencer Ware (23 carries for 80 yards) in the LSU ground game.
Lee attempted two passes after halftime, completing them both to finish 10-of-14 for 115 yards with the two touchdowns.
Miles danced around the question about who would start at quarterback against Auburn next week.
“We’re going to go just like we’ve gone,” he said. “It’s going to be our call, me and the offensive coaches. It’s just that simple.”