Sunday, October 4, 2009

SUNDAY SOAPBOX: Quarterback Questions

First of all, I'm not whining about LSU's QB situation at all.  Jefferson, so far, has earned his spot, is leading LSU to victory, and takes care of the football generally.  But, he's also not exactly burning up the joint.  So it's interesting to me to compare the two heading into the Florida game.  Because after Florida last year, Lee went on a pick-six streak that had Tiger fans booing the young QB.

So - I'm gonna take a look at Lee and Jefferson, and throw in a little post-script about Russell Shepard.


Heading into last year's matchup with Florida, redshirt freshman QB Jarrett Lee was under a lot of scrutiny.  Tiger fans were generally very unhappy, still high on BCS championship champagne from 2007.  But, statistically, Lee was having a reasonable freshman season at that point.  After 4 games, he had completed approximately 58% of his passes for 161 yards/game, 6 TDs and 3 interceptions.  Unfortunately, 1 of those picks was returned for a TD (Auburn).  Little did any of us know, there were going to be 6 more pick-sixes for Lee.

After the first five games this season, sophomore QB Jordan Jefferson heads into his matchup against Tim Tebow (maybe?) having completed 63% of his passes for 184 yards/game, 7 TDs and 2 picks. 

On the surface, those stats aren't all that different from one another.  Jefferson's numbers are slightly better than Lee's in each category. But not significantly better. 

But two distinctions leap out when comparing Jefferson and Lee. 

The first, and to me the most glaring, is expectations. 
  1. Lee was leading a team that was following the 2007 national championship run.  Jefferson is following a 5 loss "disaster" season.  
  2. Lee was following a 5th year senior QB.  Jefferson is following Lee's 7 pick-sixes.
The second distinction is sacks.  This time last year, Lee had been sacked one time.  Jefferson, has been sacked 13 times.  Now, the offensive line is different this year without Helms and Big Herman.  But 12 sacks different?  OK - throw out the fifth game and the SIX sacks Georgia amassed.  That still leaves 7 sacks in four games for Jefferson.  And one last year for Lee.  And Jefferson is supposed to be a mobile QB (which he decidedly is).  Lee is supposed to be a classic pocket passer.

So, why the huge increase in sacks?  Simple.  Lee is a better passing QB.  Period.  Dot.

It's OK, Rantards of the world.  Breathe.  Read it again.  Ponder it.  Because it's true. 

Go back and watch game film.  Lee is a much more polished passer.  Better throwing motion.  More accurate.  Hits far more receivers in stride.  Throws far fewer passes behind receivers.  And gets rid of the football quicker.  Lee is a better passer than Jordan Jefferson.  Jefferson's numbers are slightly better for a couple of reasons.  First, Jefferson throws A TON of short passes.  Second, Jefferson hasn't had the benefit of a healthy running attack so he's HAD to throw more.  And Lee shared time with Hatch for the first few games.  After 4 games, Lee had thrown 77 passes to Jefferson's 101.

Lee is also braver than Jefferson.  He took more chances last year.  He made more great throws.  He also overplayed his hand a lot and threw a BUNCH of interceptions, 7 of them returned for touchdowns.

So.  What am I saying?  I'm saying Jordan Jefferson is having a pretty good sophomore year as a QB.  I'm saying at this time last year, Jarrett Lee was having a pretty good freshman year as a QB.  Until Florida.

Would Lee be able to lead this LSU team to the same 5-0 record?  Obviously, there's absolutely no way to tell.  But there's at least a small chance that Lee would have better numbers this year, be more accurate, and have hit Lafell and Toliver in stride more consistently.  Or not. We'll probably never know.  But if it becomes necessary to know, I hope Lee is ready to grab the reins.  Because as crazy as this season seems, it will get crazier if Jefferson gets hurt and Lee returns to 2008 form.  Because this next fella isn't ready to take the whole shebang.


This kid is impressive.  He hasn't really been a big factor in any games, but that's not his fault.  First of all, he's only played a few downs per game.  Secondly, the defense knows he's going to carry the ball every time he's in the game.  It's not exactly deceptive.  And yet he still gets about 7 yards per carry.  That's pretty impressive.  Imagine how effective he could be if defenses were forced to honor the pass when he's in the game.

So why not have him throw the ball?  Seems like Gary Crowton and Les Miles are missing the boat on Shepard's talent.  Nah. 

When the game is in doubt, Shep doesn't see the field.  I think it's pretty clear that Miles and Crowton are giving Shep his touches to get him seasoned, to let  him get bloodied a bit.  But it's not Shep's time yet.  The Tigers have boup coup beaucoup weapons in the arsenal. 

Still - the first time Shep throws the ball, some defense is going to be very surprised and it could be a very big play.

Perhaps that team will be Florida?  Hmmm...


  1. "boup coup"??

    I'm guessing you mean beaucoup?

  2. Good points all. But I think along with expectations it needs to be mentioned that Jefferson is decidedly throwing the way he is BECAUSE of the year Lee had last year. He knows the fans will turn against him quicker than a Charles Scott hand-off if he screws up. He's playing it safe, but for very good reasons.
    Also, Lee couldn't see the middle of the field; Jefferson refuses to see down the field.

  3. Good points. I especially agree that JJ is very conscious of Lee's trouble last year.

  4. I give Lee credit for having the guts to stick with a team whose fanbase pretty much roasted him by the end of the season last year. I was happy to see Crowton let Lee throw the ball in his appearance when Jefferson was hurt for that play.

    In all, I'm not worried about him(LEE). Anyone who has the cojones to come back in that situation is OK by me. I hope we can chalk it up to a learning experience for him.


Don't be rude. Or I will delete your comment. Questions?