You won’t pry the name of LSU’s starting quarterback out of Les Miles.
Don’t even try.
There are two quarterbacks and Miles isn’t afraid to play both or switch the starter up minutes before a game.
LSU has come this far with a two-quarterback system, so why stop now?
“It doesn’t really matter who starts for us because we know both guys are going to get into the game,” offensive lineman Will Blackwell said.
“Starts are just another stat.”
Senior Jordan Jefferson was supposed to be the guy from the beginning, but his involvement in a fight at an off-campus bar forced him to sit for the first four games.
With Jefferson out, fellow senior Jarrett Lee, who has had a troubled on-field past with the Tigers, took over. When he and LSU were expected to fall on their respective faces, Lee shined, playing near perfect for the first eight games.
If not for Lee, LSU might not be on its national championship run.
But as Blackwell puts it: expect the unexpected around LSU.
Jefferson returned after four games, seeing his production improve each week. In the epic showdown with Alabama, Lee struggled, throwing two interceptions and completing three passes, so Jefferson took over for most of the second half and led the Tigers on their game-winning overtime drive.
The quarterback race spiced up last week when Jefferson started against Western Kentucky, passing for 168 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson played until about 12 minutes left in the game, when Lee replaced him and drove the Tigers on an 82-yard scoring drive. However, 10 of the 14 plays were rushes.
Miles said he wanted to get Lee in earlier, but Western Kentucky’s defense changed things up, making Jefferson the more effective quarterback.
So, with the Ole Miss game just days away, Jefferson is the starter, right?
Pump the brakes.
Blackwell said both are getting equal reps in practice and Miles prepares both to be the starter.
“I can tell you that we have two quarterbacks,” Miles said. “Frankly, when I think about the quarterback position I think about both guys. We’re very fortunate to have two quality quarterbacks.”
“The fact that you can train two quarterbacks in the exact same offense and plays, and there would not necessarily be a change in script. With that being said, you have to have two different quarterbacks and be prepared to play them in key times in the season so that you can win a championship.”
Miles even keeps the starter secret from his players until the last minute. Maybe, because even he doesn’t know.
That could be quite frustrating, but Blackwell said it helps players prepare harder and for more situations. So far, it hasn’t affected the offensive players.
With each quarterback getting a heavy amount of practice reps, Blackwell said the line is properly prepared to block for the run-first Jefferson and the pass-heavy Lee. Both require different blocking styles, but after extensive work with both, last-minute changes aren’t a deterrent.
But it could be for Lee. He worked so hard while Jefferson was out and continued to flourish when Jefferson returned. To think Lee wasn’t bummed about being benched at Alabama or watching Jefferson start last Saturday is a bit naïve.
Blackwell said Lee might have hurt inside, but he never showed it. He never let it take away from his focus and it hasn’t been a distraction.
“This isn’t the worst thing Jarrett’s ever been through,” Blackwell said. “He feels fortunate for starting the nine games that he did. If Jordan hadn’t had his issues, he might not have gotten one start at all.
“It’s good to see a guy like that recognize a blessing and not hold his head because he’s already gotten more than he thought he was going to get.
“So it isn’t that bad of a deal.”
Still, the offensive chemistry has to be questioned if Jefferson officially takes over the offensive reigns after everything Lee has done for this team.
To Blackwell, it shouldn’t matter. This team has been through so much and met so much adversity that Blackwell doesn’t think the guy saying "Hut" will make a difference.
“Whether it’s Jordan back there, Jarrett back there or even Zach Mettenberger, we just want to win,” he said. “We don’t care who’s in there because we’ve all worked hard and we all want to reap the benefits.”