BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson hears his coach loudly and clearly.
He tells himself the same thing every day.
“I’m going into my junior year. It’s about that time,” Jefferson said. “I’m not a young sophomore anymore. I’m not one of the youngest players on the team anymore. I’ve done a lot of film work this summer, gotten as much mental reps as I could, because as coach [Les Miles] said, it really is my time to step up and make this my offense and get all the guys around me as prepared as I can for this season.”
As the Tigers put the wraps on the spring Saturday with their annual spring game (ESPN2, 4 p.m. ET), Miles has made it very clear to Jefferson that he still wants to see more separation between him and the rest of the pack at quarterback, namely junior Jarrett Lee.
Miles said earlier this week that Lee had played very well this spring and really improved his game.
That’s not to say that he also hasn’t been pleased with Jefferson’s growth.
“We just want to see him be more consistent and more accurate,” Miles said.
Jefferson, who started in 12 games last season, completed 61.7 percent of his passes and put up solid numbers. He finished with 2,166 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, but the Tigers struggled to score points and get the ball in the end zone in key games.
There were times last season that Jefferson admits that he was doing too much guessing, which limited him in the passing game. Miles also thinks the Tigers probably put undue pressure on Jefferson by trying to throw the ball too much.
“I did a lot of studying and see the things I need to work on, the things I lacked, to help me become a better quarterback,” Jefferson said. “I have to be more of a leader. We have a lot of younger guys who are going to have to start for us this year. My biggest concern is making sure they’re ready for the season.
“We all have to be on the right page and build the kind of chemistry we didn’t have last year.”
One of things that plagued Jefferson last season was holding onto the ball too long. He was indecisive at times. The Tigers gave up 37 sacks, which tied South Carolina for the SEC high. A lot of that was on the offensive line, which didn’t play very well.
But Jefferson is the first to admit that he has to do a better job of reading defenses. He said first-year passing game coordinator Billy Gonzales, who came over from Florida, has helped him to make quicker decisions.
“He came in with a lot of pass packages and broke the passing game down a lot for me,” Jefferson said. “He’s made it a lot easier for me. It’s based on one read, and you don’t have to make too many reads. We have a good mixture of coach Gonzales and coach [Gary] Crowton, and I think our passing game will be way better than it was last year.”
The biggest change with Jefferson this spring, according to his teammates, has been his confidence.
“You can see it in his eyes, the way he calls the plays,” said sophomore Russell Shepard, who’s making the move to receiver. “We probably tried to do too many things last year, but you can tell that Jordan is in much better control back there.
“I think you’re going to see a big change, not only in him, but this whole offense.”