LSU coach Les Miles not ready for 2 QB system

BY foxsports • September 14, 2010

Unsatisfied as Les Miles may be with LSU's quarterback play, he isn't ready to make a change.

Although Miles criticized Jordan Jefferson's recent performances, he made it clear on Monday that the junior will remain the starter heading into Saturday night's home opener against Mississippi State.

''Our quarterback play - we have to get better. I think everybody knows that,'' Miles said. ''I think Jordan Jefferson has run this team and can run this team, and whatever we can do to make him more aggressive playing at quarterback for us is what we're going to do.''

For now, the quarterback situation appears to be one of few nagging problems for Miles on a team that otherwise has shown significant improvement on defense and in the running game.

In a 27-3 triumph over Vanderbilt on Saturday, No. 15 LSU (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) finished with 280 yards rushing against the Commodores, led by Stevan Ridley's 159 yards on 17 carries. The Tigers' defense, which has seven new starters, had six sacks, yielded only eight first downs and allowed a total of 135 yards.

And while LSU has yet to lose, much of what the Tigers have done well has been overshadowed by the rut Jefferson has been in since the second half of LSU's 30-24 win over suspension-depleted North Carolina.

LSU was unable to score in the second half against the Tar Heels and had to hold on for a nervous victory in the final seconds. Then at Vanderbilt, Jefferson had one of the worst games of his career, going 8 of 20 for 96 yards, no touchdowns and an interception on an underthrown ball in the end zone.

''I had plenty of opportunities to complete passes and they just fell short on me,'' Jefferson said of the Vanderbilt game. ''A person that doesn't know football could tell I didn't play good and I know I didn't play good. I know what I need to do.''

When the season began, Miles said fellow junior Jarrett Lee had competed well in spring and August practice, and could be given a chance should Jefferson falter. Making such a move now, however, would be premature, Miles said.

''We also like the improvement Jarrett Lee's made and certainly he's a very strong consideration. But first ... I want to see if we can get Jordan on track.''

Lee started eight games as a freshman in 2008, but was plagued by 16 interceptions, seven of which were returned for touchdowns. Lee also started one game last season against Louisiana Tech - Jefferson was out with a sprained ankle - and had a forgettable outing, going 7 of 22 for 105 yards and one touchdown.

Lee, who has started nine games and played parts of others, has thrown for 2,070 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jefferson has 2,832 yards passing and 23 TDs in 16 starts. And while Lee's freshman year was ruined by interceptions, Jefferson has struggled with sacks, taking 34 of them for minus-232 yards in 2009.

A two-quarterback system could be an option, but not one Miles is considering now.

''Jarrett Lee's really competing and he has earned the right to play,'' Miles said. ''I have no problem putting him in the game and look forward to those opportunities. I can only tell you that it's ... not something that we're envisioning at this point.''

Incidentally, Mississippi State will bring a two-quarterback system into Death Valley, and Miles complimented Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen on how he's made it work.

''They have a guy (Chris Relf) that's a runner and a passer, and then they have a really, pretty strong passer (Tyler Russell), and they use the duality to benefit their offense,'' Miles said. ''It seems to be working.''

LSU receiver Russell Shepard, who came to LSU as a quarterback before switching this season to receiver, said he has no interest in getting back under center full time and even joked at the expense of those who've suggested on talk radio that he'd be better than Jefferson or Lee.

''I'm going to be the greatest quarterback to never throw a pass here,'' Shepard said with a chuckle.

Shepard then described how Jefferson apologized to the team and pledged to improve after the Vanderbilt game.

''For the most part, he's doing a great job,'' Shepard said. ''He possess a lot of traits that a lot of great quarterbacks have. ... He's very calm. He doesn't get too high or too low and he doesn't flinch when it comes to competition.''

For now, it seems teammates and coaches have Jefferson's back. Jefferson would like to think LSU fans do as well, despite the criticism some have voiced on LSU call-in shows.

''We still won. That's all that really matters,'' Jefferson said. ''Even the best quarterbacks in the world have bad games. ... That's just reality and I would just hope that the fans would really be realistic.''

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