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Les Miles: Title of starting QB not crucial

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Les Miles says the label "starter" means very little at LSU, even in regards to quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.

"It's not significant to me, nor has it ever been, to name anybody anything," LSU's coach said Monday as the No. 1 Tigers began preparations to host nearly six-touchdown underdog Western Kentucky on Saturday night.

"It will always be about: In this series in the game, which quarterback gives us the best opportunity for victory," Miles continued. "I expect that both quarterbacks will play."

Lee, who started in LSU's 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama, is technically 9-0 in that role this season. But after Lee threw interceptions on consecutive passing attempts against the Crimson Tide, Jefferson ended up playing the overwhelming majority of the game.

Jefferson took 47 offensive snaps at Alabama, while Lee was limited to 11. That marked the first all season that Jefferson, who lost his starting job when he was arrested and then suspended four games in connection with an August bar fight, had played more than 41 percent of the snaps in a game.

LSU did not make the two quarterbacks available for interviews on Monday, but members of the offense said they did not read too much into the increase in action for Jefferson, at least not in terms of how it pertained to the remainder of what has the potential to be a national championship season.

"I can see where people would pick one side or the other, want one player to play or the other, but we don't really care who's back there," left guard Will Blackwell said. "We support both the guys and they both have their different talents in different situations.

"That game (at Alabama) didn't necessarily call for Jarrett to come in and throw as many passes as we would have liked," Blackwell added. "We needed to run the ball to the outside a little more. We felt like that was how we were going to gain momentum in the game and obviously Jordan's a little better at running."

Jefferson, who runs the option, has not passed much this season. For the season he is 12-of-20 for 190 yards and two touchdowns. However, half of those passes and half of those completions came against the Tide. He also rushed for 43 yards in the game.

Blackwell said Jefferson showed commendable poise in a game with far more tension than anything LSU had experienced in winning its previous eight contests by double digits.

"He's a guy who's handled more adversity than anybody on this team," Blackwell said. "He's been indicted. He's been investigated and all that, so coming in and playing late in the Alabama game was not a big deal for him.

"We always look to our quarterback for leadership, regardless of who it is, and Jordan did a great job of keeping everybody calm in tight situations and getting the play call in. He was really effective for us."

However, Blackwell and right tackle Alex Hurst both stressed that Lee should not be judged on one lousy game when he had been productive most of the season.

Lee was completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,250 yards and 13 TDs through his first eight starts and was leading the SEC in passing efficiency to that point. Even now, he is second in the league in that passer efficiency and still has a relatively low three interceptions in 162 attempts.

"He makes a couple of bad throws. That's it. That's how I see what happened," Miles said of Lee's performance in the Alabama game. "We need to get him going again. I think his contribution in this season has been so significant ... he is a very, very capable quarterback and certainly we need to have him be that guy."

Hurst said both quarterbacks, who are seniors, have good chemistry with the entire offense and that the team likes the fact that each has different strengths, giving the Tigers the ability to exploit the differing weaknesses of various defenses.

"We can kind of mix and match, keep opponents off balance," Hurst said.

He also said that while fans may get nervous after seeing a key player stumble, members of LSU's offense would likely be the last people to lose confidence in Lee.

"Jarrett led us great in the first eight games of the season," Hurst said. "Our pass efficiency is up, but when you play this game long enough at quarterback, you're going to throw a pick every now and then.

"Nobody's perfect in this game, but I'm sure Jarrett wants to bounce back from it and hopefully this week he can go out and redeem himself."