Tag:Jarrett Lee
Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:05 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 9:08 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: LSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Here's a look at LSU, who begins spring practice today.

Spring Practice Question: Can anyone be the quarterback LSU needs to win a championship?

As soon as the dust settled on LSU's comprehensive demolition of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, the stakes for 2011 were set for Les Miles and Co.: it's some form of championship or bust.

The Bayou Bengals have been playing second fiddle and even third fiddle for three straight seasons, not only missing out on those three SEC West titles but missing by a combined ten games. Not only has LSU not gone to Atlanta since their magical run of 2007, they haven't even come close, as their divisional rivals at Alabama and Auburn have barreled their way to national titles. There's a reason (other than his clock management) Miles has somehow ended up in the annual "hot seat" chatter even as he's won 78 percent of his games at LSU.

There's a lot of reasons to think that changes this year. Defensive coordinator John Chavis has taken the Tigers to finishes of 26th and 12th in the nation in total defense his two seasons in Baton Rouge; even without Patrick Peterson, Drake Nevis and the like, fearsome young defenders like end Sam Montgomery and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu should have his unit among the nation's best again. Jumbo senior guards Will Blackwell and Josh Dworaczyk should pave the way for a powerful running game, particularly if rising sophomore running back Spencer Ware can prove his explosive Cotton Bowl performance (102 yards on 10 carries) wasn't a fluke. With former five-star recruits Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard coming into their own as juniors, receiving talent is no problem.

So there's just one question: what's going to happen at quarterback?

OK, two questions, the first being who is going to be the quarterback; expect the overwhelming majority of headlines coming out of the Tigers' spring camp to breathlessly detail the three-way battle between incumbent Jordan Jefferson, his longtime competitor Jarrett Lee, and JUCO-by-way-Georgia- dismissal transfer Zach Mettenberger. It's Mettenberger who represents maybe the most intriguing option , coming in with NFL-quality size (6'5", 247 pounds), a 32-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio at Butler County (Kan.) Community College, and the endorsement that comes with having battled Aaron Murray tooth-and-nail for the Bulldogs' backup quarterback job in 2009. Given the way Lee flailed his way through his 16-interception 2008 season and the roller coaster ride Jefferson's career has followed the past two seasons, you'll forgive LSU fans for hoping Mettenberger wins the job.

More SEC

But what's more important than who emerges from the scrum is how that player -- or players -- performs. If spring practice shows that the Tigers have three quality options available at quarterback -- and given all three's combination of experience and talent, and the fresh start offered by the arrival of Steve Kragthorpe as offensive coordinator, that's a distinct possibility -- then the team will be poised to potentially make good on what may be preseason SEC title projections. Jefferson, Mettenberger, or Lee, what's critical for LSU is that someone comes out of spring practice having cemented himself as an above-average SEC quarterback.

Of course, the possibility also exists that all three will show themselves to be lacking. Jefferson also had an outstanding Cotton Bowl but over the course of his two seasons has been entirely less than reliable; Lee has been Jefferson's backup for those two seasons; and for all his salivating potential, Mettenberger has yet to take a snap at the SEC level. If that's the case, well, we've seen already these past three seasons what happens when LSU has everything but a quarterback.

And it's a lot closer to bust than championship.



Posted on: March 4, 2011 2:07 pm
 

Les Miles keeping an open mind with his QBs

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LSU will begin its spring practice a week from today, and the position everyone will be looking at is the quarterback position where Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee and newcomer Zach Mettenberger will be competing for the starting job. As for which one has the edge, according to head coach Les Miles, none of them do. Which is why the mad scientist will retreat to his lab, mix some concoctions together, and see what he can blow up.

“We’re going to give (Lee and Mettenberger) the opportunity to do the things that they do and give Jordan Jefferson the opportunity to do the things that he does -- and make us better,” Miles said on Thursday.

“I don’t know that we’ll be in a two-quarterback system, but we’re going to let those guys that might naturally throw, throw, and we’re going to let those guys that might naturally have athletic ability and movement to do those things that they do. So, the competition will be a fair one.”

I think it's obvious that the obvious thrower Miles refers to is Mettenberger, and the natural athletic ability would belong to Jefferson. Because, let's be honest, if Jefferson's natural ability is to throw the football, then he sure had a funny way of showing it throughout most of 2010. That being said, Jefferson does have a bit of an edge over Mettenberger with his experience, as does Jarrett Lee.  It's just that most of the experience Jefferson and Lee have involves turning the ball over.

Still, if Jefferson can come into camp and perform the way he did against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, then I don't think he has much to worry about. Jefferson completed 10-of-19 passes for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns in LSU's win. He also ran for an additional 67 yards and another score. More importantly, he only turned the ball over once. If he can perform that way this spring, then the starting job should be his.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Starting QB position 'open' at LSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since their team won the title in 2007, LSU fans have made a hobby of criticizing the Tigers' offense, quarterback and coordinators. After three years of falling behind Alabama and Auburn in the SEC West, many believe 2011 will be Les Miles ' best opportunity to return to the SEC Championship Game.  With such high expectations, a lot of the focus this spring will be on LSU's offense and new coordinator Steve Kragthorpe .

Kragthorpe was hired on Jan. 20 to replace oft-criticized offensive coordinator Gary Crowton . His biggest question to answer leading up to the 2011 season will be sorting out the depth chart at the quarterback position. Highly-touted junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger will be eligible to participate in spring drills and enter the 2011 season as a sophomore. The former Georgia commit will be competing for snaps alongside seniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee .  According to Kragthorpe, the position is open .

“The exciting thing about all three of them is they are very competitive,” Kragthorpe said. “They know, like all the players know, that every position is open.

“There are no incumbents.”

Asked if one quarterback or another might have talents that lend themselves better to his offense, Kragthorpe replied: “My favorite quarterback is the guy who leads the team down and scores touchdowns. His productivity and consistency levels have to be extremely high.

“A lot of times people don’t see the productivity of the quarterback. It may be a run check when we’re handing the ball to the running back and it may be a 20-yard touchdown run, but it’s because the quarterback chose the right running play out of the menu we gave him at the line of scrimmage.”
Despite incessant criticism from fans and occasional benchings, Jordan Jefferson finished the season as LSU's starter. He did leave a good lasting memory, tossing three touchdown passes and running for another in LSU's 41-24 victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Jarrett Lee never showed quite enough consistency to completely replace Jefferson at any time during the season, and Mettenberger has yet to prove anything at an FBS level.

So with a stable of question marks, it seems like opening the starting job to competition isn't just Kragthorpe's best move -- it is his only move.


Posted on: December 8, 2010 6:08 pm
 

Could Zach Mettenberger take LSU over the hump?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's an argument to be made -- and you don't even have to break a sweat to make it -- that no single position in the SEC has had a greater negative impact over the past two seasons than quarterback at LSU .

In 2009, under new defensive coordinator John Chavis , the Bayou Bengals finished a strong 26th in the country in total defense and allowed the third-fewest points in the SEC; unfortunately, Jordan Jefferson finished eighth in the league in passing yards per-game and took enough sacks to place LSU 103rd in that category, and LSU lost four games in which their opponents scored 13, 24, 25, and 19 points, respectively. Chavis's unit has been even better in 2010, finishing eighth in the FBS in total D and ninth in scoring defense . It's a good thing, too; with Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combining for a dead-last finish in the SEC in passing and a next-to-last finish in QB rating, the Tigers managed to win games with scoring totals of 20, 16, and 24 points. The Tigers also lost when they scored only 17 points against Auburn's eminently flammable defense. It's fair to say that with competent-to-good quarterbacking, LSU is looking at at least back-to-back BCS bowl appearances, possibly an SEC title one year or the other, maybe even another national title game berth.

Which is why that even amongst the coaching hiring-and-firing-and-retiring mania, the news this week that JUCO quarterback Zach Mettenberger has elected to play for Les Miles and Co. shouldn't fly under the radar. Mettenberger was a consensus four-star recruit coming out of Watkinsville, Ga., and proved his bona fides as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in his class by battling Aaron Murray tooth-and-nail for first the Georgia backup quarterback's job in spring 2009 and then the starter's position this past spring. After being booted from the Bulldog roster (more on this in a moment), he landed at Butler County (Kan.) Community College and went 176-of-299 for 2,678 yards this fall with an impressive 32-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Mettenberger will arrive at LSU with more than a little baggage, earning his ticket out of Athens by pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery following an incident at a Remerton (Ga.) bar, as well as a host of other minor offenses. But time and a JUCO stint often heals all wounds in the SEC -- just ask Cam Newton -- and at 6'5", 250 pounds, with Mettenberger's pro-grade arm, he'll arrive at Baton Rouge with a real chance at winning the starting job as soon as next season. Mettenberger cited Miles's immediate interest as one reason he chose the Tigers over Alabama, Arkansas, and others; that LSU pursued him as fervently as they did should say something about confident they are in his potential to start from Day 1.

Even if Mettenberger has to wait one season for his turn, both Jefferson and Lee are seniors. He'll get his shot eventually, and that's reason enough for the SEC to worry; given Murray's stunning first year at Georgia, Mettenberger's huge year at Butler, and his recruiting profile, the odds are very good that Mettenberger will be a quality SEC starter, and pairing a quality SEC starter at QB with Chavis's defense (not to mention the wealth of talent across the rest of the offensive board) could easily put LSU back on top of the SEC West.

In short, LSU's biggest Achilles heel these past two seasons may have been healed. Given how good they've been anyway, Mettenberger's commitment could prove to be a turning point -- not only for the Tigers, but for the entire SEC West. And if you don't think one JUCO quarterback can have that kind of impact, we'd ask you to take it up with Mr. Newton.

Posted on: December 2, 2010 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 12:12 pm
 

Miles not interested in discussing OC's future

Posted by Chip Patterson

Whether it is the crazy clock management, the ambiguous quotes, or stuffing his face with grass from the field, it is hard to see past Les Miles on the LSU sideline.  But as any Tigers fan, after another season of offensive frustrations all of the attention in Baton Rouge is on offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.  The Tigers have finished near the bottom of the SEC in total offense the last two seasons, and currently rank 107th of the 120 Div. 1-A schools in passing offense.  Whether it was Jordan Jefferson or Jarrett Lee under center, the Tigers offense often failed to match the play of their defensive counterparts.

The frustrations have magnified in 2010 after the Tigers fell just one score short in each of their two losses. No matter what the team's attitude is towards their bowl game, it will still feel like a disappointment to much of the fan base.  But try and ask Miles about Crowton's future, and he will certainly indicate where his attention lies.

"I've got to be real honest with you, I don't want to talk about that," Miles said when asked about Crowton's status in a meeting with reporters Wednesday afternoon in the LSU football facility. "Endorsement, no endorsement — all those things are really without relevance at this point to me. This is about preparing a team for a bowl game, period. I think our offense has gotten better. And I think that our team is maturing."

The offense has gotten better late in the season.  For the first time since 2007, LSU put up 430+ yards of offense in back-to-back SEC wins.  In 2009, LSU only broke the 400 yard mark against Tulane.  Much of the production has been thanks to an improved running game led by Stevan Ridley.  The junior running back scored 10 touchdowns in the last six games of the season, and broke the 1000 yard mark for the first time in his career.  Whether the late-season improvements will be enough to keep Crowton on the payroll could be determined by the bowl game.  I would take this time to suggest to the coordinator that last impressions are lasting, and running up the score in the bowl game may not be a bad idea. 
Posted on: November 30, 2010 10:56 am
Edited on: November 30, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Garcia ailing ahead of SEC title tilt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Stephen Garcia left the first meeting between Auburn and South Carolina a little worse for wear, taking a knock to the head (though not one severe enough to be ruled a concussion) that helped prompt Steve Spurrier -- who said Garcia was "woozy" -- to turn to true freshman Connor Shaw for the game's final two drives. Shaw threw interceptions on both those possessions, ending any chance of a late Gamecock comback, so Carolina knows already it will have to have Garcia healthy and at his best to keep pace with the Tigers' SEC -best offense.

Unfortunately, Spurrier announced yesterday that may be a luxury they simply won't have:
Garcia hurt his right thumb in Saturday night's victory over Clemson when his hand struck a Clemson defender's helmet, an injury he addressed after the game. However, USC head coach Steve Spurrier revealed late Sunday afternoon that Garcia has a 'banged-up' left (non-throwing) shoulder as well.

As a a result, Garcia is not expected to practice early this week, but could join his teammates in workouts by the middle of the week.

"His right hand is very sore," Spurrier said Sunday during a teleconference with reporters to preview Saturday's SEC Championship game. "And his left shoulder got popped a little bit. He probably won't do too much the first couple of days this week, but hopefully by midweek or so he should be pretty close to full go. He's a little banged up right now, but he should be okay, we think."
If Spurrier's expecting him back at practice by midweek, Garcia remains likely to play in Atlanta. But if you're a Gamecock fan, "He should be OK, we think" can't sound encouraging, particularly given Auburn's penchant for knocking opposing quarterbacks (Ryan Mallett , Greg McElroy , Jarrett Lee , Garcia) out of the game. There's also been a credible report that Garcia's injury is severe enough to put his arm in a sling on Sunday. (For those of you interested in such things, Vegas has reportedly taken the game off the board in response to Garcia's status.)

When all is said and done, expect Garcia to suit up, take the field against the Tigers, and deliver the same kind of gutty effort that's always marked his tenure in Columbia. But if he's not 100 percent, Carolina's already long-seeming odds against the Tigers will get that much longer.


Posted on: November 6, 2010 7:41 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 8:19 pm
 

LSU eliminates Alabama from BCS chase

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The near-universal consensus was that if any one-loss team could leapfrog TCU and Boise State no matter how many points the non-AQ powers piled up on the weak sisters of the Mountain West and WAC (noting that that description does not apply to their overwhelmed victims this afternoon), it was Alabama , the FBS's most-recognized gold standard, lurking dangerously at one loss with several potential computer-friendly victims ahead.

The problem: the first victim on the list wasn't interested in the Tide's own-destiny-controlled narrative. LSU rebounded from a sluggish, wasteful first half to punish the vaunted Alabama defense in the second half, recording 20 points, a whopping 338 total yards, and an all-important game-clinching 3rd-and-13 conversion to win 24-21 . Take your pick as the bigger surprise: that behind an offensive line that blasted open hole after hole in the 'Bama front seven, the LSU ground game churned out 225 yards on 5 yards a carry; or that much-derided LSU quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee emerged as the players of the game, combining to go an efficient 14-of-20 for 204 yards, a touchdown, and -- most importantly given the hay LSU was making on the ground -- no interceptions. Lee's throw to Rueben Randle on the icing conversion was as clutch as delivery as you'll see this year.

But maybe more surprising than either of those developments is that after two full seasons with the Tide as an undefeated, implacable, omnipresent presence in the thick of the national championship discussion, the Tide will not have a say this year, except as a possible spoiler for their rivals at Auburn . Even the clout of the SEC will not push a two-loss champion into the BCS title game, not with the Horned Frogs and Broncos running rampant (and looking unlikely to do anything different down the home stretch). Both the Tide and Bayou Bengals stay alive for the SEC West championship (though both will need an upset win from Georgia on their trip to Auburn next week, among other results in 'Bama's case), and LSU can continue to harbor longshot BCS hopes, but a Sugar Bowl date is now the best-case scenario for the Tide ... leaving an unmistakable crimson-shaded hole in the national title race.

Les Miles ... your thoughts?



Posted on: October 24, 2010 1:01 am
 

What I learned from the SEC (Oct. 23)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Cam Newton is the greatest thing to happen to college football since Denard Robinson.   So this isn't exactly breaking news, but OMG CAM NEWTON IS FREAKING AWESOME.  I knew going into Saturday's game that the only way LSU could beat Auburn would be if they stopped Cam Newton, but I also knew that stopping Cam Newton is like trying to stop the Earth from spinning.  Unless Les Miles had control over a meteor -- and he might -- it just wasn't going to happen.  We're only 8 weeks into the season and Newton has already set the single-season rushing mark for a quarterback in the SEC with 1,077 yards.  If he keeps playing like this he should be allowed to take any laptop he wants.  Hell, he can have mine.

2. Nick Fairley is pretty special too.
  I said it during the game on Saturday, and I'll say it again here.  Nick Fairley just isn't going to stop until he has the head of every quarterback in the SEC mounted on his wall.  As great as Newton played on Saturday, the reason Auburn won was because every time LSU dropped back to pass, Nick Fairley was in the back field flinging people around like bean bags.

3. LSU only has so much "luck."
  I knew it was going to be hard for LSU to survive the entire season without a loss with a passing attack that works more like a retreat, and it came to a head on Saturday in Auburn.  Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson were only able to complete 15-of-28 passes for 89 yards.  That's 3.2 yards per attempt.  Against an Auburn secondary that was absolutely torched by Kentucky and Arkansas over the last two weeks.

4. South Carolina really needs Marcus Lattimore. 
We saw South Carolina struggle without Marcus Lattimore last week, succumbing to Kentucky and blowing an 18-point lead in the second half, and the Gamecocks struggled again against Vanderbilt without Lattimore this week.  Yes, South Carolina won the game, but it had a lot harder time handling Vandy than it should have.  The Gamecocks were only able to manage 2.9 yards per carry, and had to rely on Stephen Garcia.   That may work against Vanderbilt, but trust me, having to rely on Stephen Garcia to win games is rarely a good idea.

5. Georgia may just win the SEC East.  It's hard to believe that the Bulldogs are still alive, but they are, and they're dangerous.  They hung 40 points on an SEC opponent for the third straight week and thanks to four Kentucky turnovers, only needed 290 yards of offense to do it.  Oh, and if Washaun Ealey scores five touchdowns in every game, Georgia is going to be tough to beat.
 
 
 
 
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