Blog Entry

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:04 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 1:05 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Bringing Jordan Jefferson off the bench on Nov. 5 might have won Les Miles his first meeting with Alabama this season. But that same decision might also have lost him the meeting that mattered.

Jefferson's mobility and the option looks he opened up help rescue what had been a flailing offense in Tuscaloosa, with his final option pitch of the night -- a 15-yard gain by Michael Ford -- clinching the win in overtime. It was after that first Alabama game that Miles and the LSU staff went away from 9-0 starter Jarrett Lee and towards Jefferson for good, with Lee attempting just five passes total over the Tigers' final four games. And Jefferson appeared to have repaid that leap of faith, putting together effective showings against Ole Miss and Arkansas.

But Monday in New Orleans, it appeared Jefferson's earlier success against the Tide had been nothing more than purple-and-fool's gold. The same option plays went nowhere when they didn't go backwards. Jefferson was hopeless as a passer anywhere beyond the line-of-scrimmage, completing 11-of-his-17 passes but for a useless 3.1 yards an attempt. His legs rarely helped him against the vicious Tide pass rush, as he finished with 14 carries for 15 yards. And Jefferson capped his night with the game's only interception, a mind-bending on-the-run chest pass to a running back -- Spencer Ware -- who had already turned to block for him. 

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It got so bad that Jefferson was booed by his own fans, in a national title game, in New Orleans. But still, even with the LSU offense looking more likely to put points on the board for the Tide than for their own team, Lee never entered the game. His final game as a collegian ended without his having taken a snap.

"I did feel like I'd get opportunity tonight," Lee said, "and I didn't."

Neither Lee nor the Tiger faithful were the only ones wondering if Miles had Jefferson a longer leash in the Superdome than he'd earned.

"Jarrett didn't get a shot. I felt like maybe he should have," said senior offensive lineman Will Blackwell. "He didn't, but that's not the reason we lost. Jarrett Lee not playing is not the reason we lost.

"Jarrett won nine games for us and we did very well in those nine games. He throws the ball a little bit better than Jordan, but Jordan runs it a little better. It's kind of a pick-your-poison kind of deal. Unfortunately, tonight we picked the wrong one."

Even Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart admitted he's expected to see Lee, saying he was "real shocked" Miles had never gone to the bullpen, before politely adding "They kind of rode the horse that brought them." 

In his postgame press conference, Miles was asked multiple times about his decision to stick with Jefferson -- once by former New Orleans Saints quarterback and current radio host Bobby Hebert, father of LSU lineman T-Bob Hebert, in a rambling and confrontational "question" that has to be read to be believed -- and stated (in his own Milesian style) that he felt Jefferson was better-suite to handle the Tide pass rush.

"We did consider Jarrett Lee," Miles said. " But we felt like with the pass rush that we were getting that we needed a guy that could move the seat and not sustain that pass rush ... As much as I would have liked to have put Jarrett Lee in because the program owes him a lot, he really did a great job for us in the beginning of the year and really throughout his career, I felt like it would be unfair to him with the pass rush ... That was my call."

Certainly the threat of the Tide sack artists was a factor to consider. And Blackwell is right that the Crimson Tide would have won that game if Tom Brady was at the LSU controls. But between LSU's stubborn determination to make the option "work," Miles's refusal to bench Jefferson (even if only to get his head on straight) and the phasing out of Lee over the season's final weeks, it seems fair to ask if the much larger factor was simply that LSU's staff was convinced that Jefferson gave them the best chance to win--no matter the evidence mounting in front of their eyes.

Why would they be so certain? The only logical explanation is because that's how things had worked out for them the first time around, and after weeks of preparation, LSU simply wasn't prepared for them to not work out a second time. In switching to Jefferson in the Game of the Century, Miles won a huge battle. But after Monday, that same choice seems to have helped cost him the national championship war.

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Since: Jan 11, 2012
Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:49 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

  Meanwhile, Les Miles decided to go down with the ship with Jordan Jefferson at the helm. Jefferson was not completely ineffective, but he was about 90 percent. He missed passes, threw an interception, fumbled, dropped snaps and generally looked frequently befuddled. Just as befuddled as everyone who watches this LSU team as to why Jarrett Lee wasn’t given a chance. Just once. Just in the first half even. Was it stubbornness? Was it fear that Lee would throw one last costly interception? Is it that Miles is a Republican and Lee’s family are LBJ Texas Democrats for generations gone back?  

Scott Rabalais The Advocate 1/10/2012

Jefferson stunk up the joint

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:15 pm

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

Talk of firing Les Miles will not help the situation, and is just a knee jerk reaction.  LSU needs a QB the coach can have confidence in, and I have the hope that Mett is that guy.  Surely, Jefferson and Lee were not that guy.  I do not know what Miles saw in Jefferson, but not a lot of other people saw it.  To be in this position with such terrible QB play is actually a testament to Miles abililty to overcome challenges.  He failed last night, as I guess his confidence in Lee is much lower than mine in Jefferson.  Miles failed, but we all do on occasion.  Now, he has to pick himself back up and start preparing for next season.  He recovered after the Ole Miss fiasco a couple of years ago, and I suspect he will recover after this. 

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:49 pm

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

If anyone had told me that LSU would be blanketed by the Tide, if anyone had told me that LSU would have been out played by the Tide, If anyone had said to me that Les Miles would have made no adjustment at the half, if anyone had said to me that Jarret Lee would be dissed as the alternative to a non-participant in his finally game, I would have called them a LIE!

Les Miles is the reason that LSU did not come to play.  Les Miles has shown that he has no business being the head coach of the LU Tigers.  He has laid these kinds of eggs on previous occasions and, in my opinion, deserves to be fired!  He made the Tigers loopk like paper tigers!  Les Miles lost this game!

Jordan Jefferson is a good quarterback, but he is not the quarterback that should have been in this game... he froze, he choked, he was totally ineffective and should have been pulled after the second series of downs when it became apparent that he was not performing at a level capable of generating points on the board.

The Tiger Defense keep LSU in the game until it became apparent that they couldn't do it alone.  The Defense had more snaps than the LSU's offense - a bad sign.  The weaknesses of the Tide were never exposed and capitalized on... mainly, that they had no Red Zone strengths.  The LSU defense kept thme out of the endzone which should have given the offense the support they needed to make touchdowns; it didn't happen because Les Miles had no strategy for beating the Tide.

My hat is off to Lou Saban and the Tide for not taking a vacation, for re-inventing themselves, for taking what they felt they rightly deserved!  On last night, they proved that they deserved to be number one in the nation.

Since: Sep 27, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:45 pm

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

As I sit here this morning, still trying to decipher exactly what happened last night, the Jefferson-Lee issue ranks fairly high on the list.  Seems to me that that's simply a symptom of a much broader 'infection', for lack of a better term.  44 days to prepare, to study, to think, evaluate, LEARN...and it comes about that, really, when all is said and done, the entire team, top to bottom and left to right, was not ready to play.  Not at all.  It was bizarre how total and complete that was, from Jefferson looking either extremely confused, lost, or downright angry at his teammates (always a great thing to have in your QB, isn't it?), to Miles refusing to take him out, to poorly executed options and runs that an angry, "hateful" (Saban's words), mean, hardened defense ate like candy and asked for more....all of it.  The biggest question is, I guess, what happened?  How did LSU go from being included in the "best team ever?" conversation to looking like they had, literally, NO idea how to play organized football, in ONE game?  Bama was awesome, and their defense would have made many, many teams look like terrified puppies, but they weren't THAT much better.  From the time the cameras showed the teams warming up, to the final play, they looked like polished, confident professionals, like they had a plan, knew they were going to execute it, and were secure in the knowledge it would work.  LSU looked nothing like that, and it only got worse after the game started.  I'd say their performance was much worse than Butler's in the NCAA Championship game--Butler at least looked like they were scrambling, desperate to get back...taking their shots as they kept missing.  They looked, in short, like they still knew how to play their sport.  LSU, besides that vicious defense (nobody could fault them for being exhausted after spending THAT much time on the field), looked like they needed extensive help to put on their pads! 

I have a feeling that Miles lost a lot of what he had built up over the past few weeks; that this hideous, horrific performance stripped a lot of that "crazy genius" label, and left nothing but the "crazy".  Losing the game wouldn't have been the end of the world (I'm no myopic homer fan), nor would have a sound trouncing (say 28 - 10 or something), but THIS?  A total collapse?  Bad decisions, bad performance, bad planning, lack of adjustment?  While the very best team won, this goes FAR beyond "the best team won".  After the shell shock wears off, the stories will begin to turn to trying to figure out how far beyond the reasons go. 

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:28 pm

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

The word on Miles since he has been at LSU is he is more lucky than good.

LSU has first class talent and a second class coach.  Miles should stick to recruiting at let the others who know how to

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:41 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

"The only team that I've told them not to schedule was the Green Bay Packers"

And the Crimson Tide...apparently...

Since: Feb 22, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:35 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

Unfortunately for LSU, Les Miles will just lay an egg sometimes.  The Tigers were completely unprepared and outcoached.  Jordan Jefferson looked like a deer in the headlights the entire game.  To make no halftime adjustments and to not bring in Lee is just unexcusable.  For a coach who can be so creative at times, Miles just leaves you wondering at others.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:26 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

With no Lee, Miles becomes a co MVP with Alabama's defense. You have to try something else at some point. Outcoached outplayed. Congratulations Crimson Tide.

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:19 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

I agree with you.  The let down is that we were so close to the heralded best ever and let it slip.  Jefferson and Lee are both gone now and I hope Mett has a genuine time to shine without controversy because we really do have a chance to pull into Bama's spot.  The only complaint any Tigah fan has revolves around one game because it was a great ride and I know our team can't wait to get that losing taste out of their system.  Go Tigers!

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:58 am

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

Clearly, Bama was much better prepared than we were, and they were ready to play.  Not sure what happened to our guys, but this was not their day.  I don't know what Miles problem is with Lee, but I am glad Lee is now gone because Miles had no confidence in him, and all he had was one bad game all year.  Jefferson was terrible last night and there is no reason to think that a switch to Lee would have been any worse.  You could look in Jefferson's eyes and see that he did not have it.  I guess Les's real problem was with the O Line, as he did not think they could block Bama.  Overall, LSU has a great season, but we ended extremely flat.  Winning the SEC and finishing #2 in the country is not a bad deal, but it is far from a NC.  Rallying cry of a loser, maybe next year. 

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