Making Sense of LSU’s Quarterback Situation

Certain things aren't up for debate.

The LSU Tigers are a clearly top-tier team in the nation, as their No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings indicates. The team’s head coach Les Miles is very, very capable when it comes to strategizing for maximum production on the field, and minimizing unnecessary drama off the field.

And, finally, by virtue of their remarkable depth (read: monstrous defense), the Tigers can compete with, and ultimately, defeat any team in the country.

What is worth debating, however, is what precisely is going on with the group’s quarterback situation. How long will this two-quarterback thing last? Who gets to play more? What grounds are being used to measure who is being the better leader of the offense?

LSU absolutely destroyed the Tennessee Vols this past weekend in a 38-7 blowout. The question now becomes – what happens next?

The Tigers have two quality, capable quarterbacks in Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, both of whom have proven at one time or another that they can stand at the helm of a program and thrive even if their playing styles are completely different.

In that last game against Tennessee, Lee and Jefferson essentially split time based on, well, nobody knows exactly. Lee started the game and ultimately went 10-of-14 for 115 yards and two scores, but he still found himself on the sidelines watching Jefferson lead the team in the second half.

Jefferson, after not getting much time in the first half, came in with something to prove and provided a slightly different element to the offense. He only passed three times for the entire game but, nevertheless, made his impact felt by being the team’s second leading rusher with 73 yards and a score on the ground. Plus, he did it averaging 5.2 yards per carry – not a shabby total any way you want to cut it.

When it was all said and done, Jefferson played more in that game versus Tennessee than he did against the Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators combined.

Miles didn’t even try to clear up the confusion afterward. When pressed on which quarterback he’ll play -- or play more, at least -- from here on out, he only offered this tidbit:

"We're going to go just like we've gone," Miles told reporters. "It's going to be the offensive coaches call and my call, and it's that simple."

So, let’s translate that from coach-speak. Lee is clearly more of a traditional quarterback and, as such, has the ability to move the ball downfield in a more timely, efficient manner. His two touchdowns and zero interceptions speak volumes on just how good he’s become and how much he’s blossomed under the staff's tutelage. At the same time, the athleticism that Jefferson brings to the table is absolutely unparalleled. Even though he only passed the ball three times, the sheer fact that he can wear down the defense with 16-snap scoring drives like his 99-yarder in the third quarter shows why he got so much playing time in the second half.

The truth is, after Jefferson’s incident during the preseason, many (read: me) assumed that he was out for as long as he had to be out, and that as soon as he was made available by the powers that be, LSU would re-insert him without missing a beat. Because of well he played, though, and the way he capitalized on the opportunity presented to him, Lee threw a wrench into the whole thing. He clearly deserves to be starting – and it would be shocking if Miles up and decided that Jefferson deserves to get his job back just because.

LSU will likely keep going with this two-quarterback system until they’re given a reason to stop. For now, it’s working perfectly and allows the squad to really play off both guys’ strengths. When and if it stops, Miles will likely shift gears.

But with the No. 1 ranking in the country and no end to their winning ways in sight, it’s safe to say the Tigers found a good formula, and that they’ll likely stick with it for the long haul.


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