Jarrett Lee is our starting quarterback. Heaven help us.
I actually like Lee. I've always liked Lee. Don't believe me? Here's what I wrote about Lee in 2008, back when most LSU fans were hanging the poor freshman in effigy...
I'll be honest. Jarrett Lee is becoming one of my favorite Tigers ever. Because it takes a lot of strength to listen to so many boos and so much negativity only to keep coming out there. I find it hard to relate to great players, but I can relate to Lee. He has failed, sometimes spectacularly so. I hate to lay the Alabama game on one player, but he did play a pretty miserable game. But he also had a great drive in the fourth quarter of that game. He never, ever gives up. He knows there is no one to back him up, he's the only option. In the spring, he was our third string quarterback, and now he's the only quarterback we have. He wasn't ready, but he hasn't whined or complained. The fans have turned on him pretty viciously, but he still plays his heart out for them. And he has delivered. Not always, but enough. He has this team at 7-3, which isn't too bad for a third-stringer.
I may be proud of the team, but I'm especially proud of our quarterback. I don't care who Pittman hands out the hardware to, but Lee is my ATVSSECOSPPOW. Thanks, Jarrett. We're cheering for you.
My opinion hasn't change much. What I like about Jarrett Lee is that he is so mortal. He was thrown into frying pan way before he was ready, and he has carried the scars of freshman year for his entire career. He's seen the starting job go to Jefferson and several anointed saviors who haven't panned out (Damn you, Zach Lee!), and he's seen people like, er, us publicly speculate on why he should transfer and start over.
But he hasn't. He has stuck through the bad times and the boo birds, and here is, back in the starting gig. Maybe he's gotten over 2008. I hope so. Lee's issues have always been more mental than physical. But let's look at last year's performance for guidance, using our favorite tool to rate QB's: ATVSQBPI.
For new members of ATVS, here's a refresher on our custom metric, ATVSQBPI.
Jefferson and Lee posted nearly identical ATVSQBPI's last year: JJ at 5.55 and Lee at 5.42. However, they couldn't have gotten to those rather pedestrian ratings more differently. First, the average SEC QB had an ATVSQBPI rating of 6.86 last year. Only two starters had a worse rating than the LSU starters, John Brantley (4.83) and Larry Smith (4.43). That's right, both QB's underperformed Matt friggin Simms (5.76). So let's keep perspective, neither QB was very good.
The first major difference is that the bulk of Jefferson's value comes from running the football while Lee's running is a negative. If rushing was removed from his totals, Jefferson loses about a quarter of his yardage and half of his touchdowns. Lee, on the other hand, had 10 rushes for -46 yards. That isn't good.
Lee threw for a higher completion percentage. He was a more efficient quarterback. The only SEC quarterback with a worse completion percentage than Jefferson was Smith. Lee wasn't among the league leaders, but he at least topped 60%. That's the other major difference.
But the biggest difference is that Jefferson improved over the course of the year and Lee declined. Jefferson played poorly all the way through October, bottoming out in the Auburn game in which he went 7-14 for 46 yards and an INT. Jefferson's ATVSQBPI through the first two months was a depressing 4.00. From that point on, Jefferson posted a 7.916, which is Aaron Murray territory. And he wasn't doing this against the Sisters of the Poor, this included games against three ranked teams, including Alabama.
Jarrett Lee only played sparingly in September, but in the first seven games of the year, he earned a larger role in the offense and posted an ATVSQBPI of 7.29. Lee also played a pretty big part in the Tennessee and Florida wins, to give the guy credit. Then came the Auburn game.
Lee didn't play awful against Auburn, but he wasn't much better than Jefferson (8-14, 43 yards, 0 TD or INT). Lee would play less and less as Jefferson morphed into Jefferswag, but Lee didn't really help his own cause. His ATVSQBPI in the last six games was an astonishing 3.09.
Just as quickly as Lee played himself into the lineup, he played himself out of it. Well, now Lee has to hope the first half of the season is the Real Lee, and the second half was just because he couldn't get enough work to find a rhythm.
I have no idea how Lee will react to being a starter. Absolutely none. But I can tell you I'll be rooting for him. People love an underdog, and Jarrett Lee's career is nothing but that. Redemption would be a perfect coda to the most vilified LSU quarterback since Jamie Howard.