I really don't relish being critical of Jarrett Lee. The fact is, he was supposed to be carrying a clipboard and then competing for the starting job in a year or two. He has been thrust into the role of carrying this football team from the quarterback position way before he's ready, and we're only doing it because there really isn't a choice.
What's more, Andrew Hatch, who spelled Lee and helped move the chains with his running, is not around to be a security blanket. I think that is an unexplored explanation for his recent struggles.
I think Lee has a future as a quarterback. I think that because what I see from him fits with what you expect of a talented but inexperienced player. We see moments of brilliance and shocking mistakes. The idea is that if a player had limited upside, you wouldn't see the moments of brilliance, and when he gets the experience we won't see the shocking mistakes anymore.
There is much to be said positive about Lee even now. At one point in the game, Lee was 5 of 20 with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, and he finished the night 9 of 14, with of course the one interception. The kid doesn't quit. He keeps playing. We've seen this over and over again, first against Auburn when he threw that horrible interception and came back to play very well in the second half while leading us to victory.
Even with all Lee's struggles today, if Chris Mitchell had come down with that catch when Lee dropped it right into his arms, we probably win this game.
And the sad thing is, with the exception of Lee's play, this was our most complete performance of the season. The defense was OUTSTANDING. We were strong against the run all night, and we didn't have the bad coverage breakdowns we've seen. Our secondary was at its best all night. Never was there a wide receiver open deep for Alabama.
The offensive line played as well as it has all season. We didn't break a lot of long runs, but we didn't have a lot of negative plays either, and we ran the ball consistently well, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The receivers broke open consistently. Lee just missed them a lot. On the interception returned for a touchdown, Lee was trying to get the ball to Terrance Toliver, who was open. The throw simply missed; it led him too much. There were several throws like this.
Sadly, our "scoring defense" average will actually get worse due to this game, but Alabama scored two of its touchdowns while accumulating only 15 yards of offense. They scored 3 of their 4 touchdowns while accumulating only 40 yards of offense. Only once was Alabama able to score when they weren't given a short field or a defensive touchdown.
It is said that whenever you play a freshman quarterback, he will lose you two games. Lee lost this game. There's just no other way to say it. Or rather, I should say, our lack of options other than Jarrett Lee, combined with his ineffectiveness for much of the game, combined to cause this loss.
I think I'm going to avoid message boards and talk radio this week. I'm pretty down about this loss, but I don't want to experience the negativity that will undoubtedly spew. I think that out of the LSU players on the field, most of them earned a win tonight. The offensive linemen earned a win. Charles Scott and Keiland Williams earned a win. Demetrius Byrd earned a win. Tyson Jackson earned a win. Kelvin Sheppard, Marlon Favorite, Ricky Jean-Francois, Drake Nevis, Patrick Peterson, Chris Hawkins, and Danny McCray earned a win. Darry Beckwith and Jacob Cutrera earned a win, as did Rahim Alem and Kirston Pittman. Jai Eugene and Chad Jones earned a win. Ryan Baker and Ron Brooks earned a win on special teams. Brady Dalfrey earned a win.
Only a handful did not earn a win, but that was enough to keep them all from getting the win they earned.
It was an outstanding game, and both teams really came to play. It really was a clash of heavyweights, and while we are not quite at the point right now where we can get the wins in these games, we will get back there soon.