Jordan Jefferson played alright. He was 10 of 20 for 129 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Not a horrible stat line, particularly for a true freshman seeing his first extended playing time.
When Lee got hurt, I had visions of the true freshman starting a legendary tale of a young hero plucking Excalibur from the rock and leading his beleaguered troops to a stunning come from behind victory. It was not to be, of course, and truth be told it was an entirely unrealistic hope.
Jefferson did enough to warrant a closer look, though. And unless my eyes deceived me, I think Jarrett Lee is too badly hurt to even be considered for playing time in this next game, which will occur in short order.
Like with the defense, I think the quarterback position is an open competition in the Spring. There will be 3 quarterbacks on the roster with real game experience, and really any of the three could end up winning the job. Then there is Russell Shepard, the high school senior who upon committing to LSU this past Spring immediately behind a star-in-waiting among those of us who follow the recruiting trail heavily. He will arrive in time to participate in Spring drills following an enormous senior season of high school that is actually still going on.
Honestly, I do not expect Russell Shepard to start at quarterback at any time in the 2009 season, but it would not be a surprise at all if he was a contributor in some respect, either as a change-up quarterback or as a Percy Harvin-type player. His skills with the ball in his hands are amazing.
His arm skills are. . . debatable. The world is divided on whether he is a future college quarterback or not.
I know it's just internet rumors, but if what Bayou Bengal Blog says about Jarrett Leeis true, I am really worried about this kid:
I'm told that the pressure and the adversity this year have frayed Lee emotionally, so much so that at this point he goes to class, goes to practice and goes back to his room - and that's it. He even eats his meals in his room from what I understand.
This is bad.
It also illustrates the danger of playing a kid before he's ready. People always say, "You might as well play the youngsters to get them ready," but this highlights why that is not always the best thing. With a young player, you want to introduce him slowly to the game, putting him in circumstances to succeed.
With Lee, we played him because we needed to, and after his outstanding second half against Auburn, and especially after his second half against South Carolina, he has really had a difficult time, to the point where he is damaged and needs to be repaired. You can tell it from his body language on the sidelines without having to hear about where he eats his meals. This is what can happen when a young player is given responsibility too early, and there is no position in football with greater responsibility than quarterback.
Jarrett Lee has talent, but not superlative talent, and he has been thrust into a very difficult position well before he was ready. Jordan Jefferson, I think, has more physical talent, but has not really played much quarterback.
One thing to keep in mind about Jordan Jefferson is that not only is he a true freshman, but he didn't really play all that much quarterback in high school either. He was a starting quarterback at Destrehan in his junior and senior years (including a State championship his senior year), but his junior year was cut short by injuries and his high school system called for him to be in the shotgun almost every snap.
So he has really only played a year and a half of quarterback before getting to LSU, and here he has not had the luxury of sitting and learning except for the first half or so of the season. And here at LSU he is playing under center for really the first time since who knows when? Junior varsity? Middle School?
Then of course there is Andrew Hatch, who is much more appreciated in his absence than he ever was in his presence. Of course, Hatch does not have much of an arm, nor is he particularly speedy, but (at the risk of spewing a white-QB cliche) he is a pretty heady guy, at least when given a limited role. In that limited role as the running quarterback who moved the chains and let Lee take a break and relieve the pressure.
It will be an interesting Spring to say the least, but we get Arkansas and a bowl opponent before that. Let's at least salvage something here.