Tag:Jarrett Lee
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:51 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: LSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at LSU.

Spring Practice Starts: March 2, or a day after it had been scheduledthat date two days after the start had originally been scheduled. Les Miles has said the delay is due to getting new defensive backs coach Corey Raymond up to speed.

Spring Game: March 31

Returning starters: Seven on offense, five on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1.  Is Zach Mettenberger ready to take over at quarterback? Miles has made no secret of his expectations for the former Georgia and JUCO quarterback, saying he expects the Tigers to immediately take a step forward in the passing game thanks to the big-armed senior--not that with Jordan Jefferson (fresh off his rock-bottom performance at the NFL Draft combine) finally relinquishing the reins, there's really anywhere for that passing game to go but up. But for the Tigers to live up to their preseason No. 1 ranking, Mettenberger will have to live up to his advance hype and then some. Unlike during the days of his Jefferson-Jarrett Lee platoon, Miles won't have many options if he doesn't; none of the other three quarterbacks on the roster (including brother-of-Phillip Stephen Rivers, a redshirt freshman) have taken a college snap or come with much in the way of advance hype. (In retrospect, maybe it's no surprise Miles lost his cool over Gunner Kiel's decision to go to Notre Dame instead.) 

2. Can anyone fill the shoes of Rueben Randle? The Tigers aren't exactly hurting at wide receiver, not with Odell Beckham Jr. looking to build on a highly promising freshman season and the brutally underused Russell Shepard bound to get the attention of his coaching staff one of these years. But both players are more the shifty, undersized type that thrived on Randle opening up coverage underneath than a replacement for Randle's 6'4" downfield presence; Beckham's 11.6 yards per-reception average in 2011 was nearly 6 yards shy of Randle's (outstanding) mark, for instance. And outside of Beckham and Shepard, no other wideout on the team finished in double-digits for receptions in 2011. Mettenberger's deep touch is nice, but it won't do a whole lot for the Tigers if someone -- sophomore Landry Fields, maybe, or junior Kadron Boone -- can't put it to use down the field. 

3. How will the Tigers react to their BCS debacle? Even without the likes of Jefferson, Randle, or Morris Claiborne, there's still no roster in the FBS more fully stocked with talent than this one. (It won't surprise anyone if the Tigers' entire starting defensive line -- Barkevious Mingo, Anthony Johnson, Bennie Logan, and Sam Montgomery -- ends up starting in the NFL as well.) Miles has been a master motivator in the past, and if he turns his team's faceplant in the Superdome into a rallying point and driving force, there's no reason they can't run the regular season table again. But if it instead becomes a black cloud that hangs over their spring drills and results in half-hearted efforts from player and coach alike, the Tigers don't have to look any further than the previous team to lose a national title game to Alabama -- Mack Brown's Texas, still struggling to recover from their loss in Pasadena -- to see how damaging the consequences can be.

To check in on the rest of the SEC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:56 am
 

PHOTOS: Mardi Gras float mocks LSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're an LSU fan, which is worse: losing the national title in a 21-0 humiliation at the hands of an Alabama team that's already probably your most hated rival, or showing up at a Friday night Mardi Gras parade for some good-natured fun and frivolity ... only to have a float roll by dedicated to rubbing that loss in your purple-and-gold face?

That was the dilemma posed by the brilliantly named "Le Krewe d'Etat" Friday, where they rolled past parade-goers in a float dedicated to the Tide's victory over the Tigers, complete with larger-than-life Bobby Hebert at the prow of the float and representations of Les Miles, Jarrett Lee and others surrounding the float. Photos of the float surfaced at the site MardiGrasParadeSchedule.comand they do not disappoint:





We'll be honest: losing the game was worse. But for LSU diehards in attendance Friday, this probably stung quite a bit all the same.

HT: Throw the Flag. More photos there.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:36 pm
 

LSU's Jefferson 'would've changed' play-calls



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's open season on the LSU offensive coaching staff, and the team's former players just keep firing away.

The latest ex-Tiger to do so is the player at the center of much of the post-BCS championship second-guessing, quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Speaking on WCNN radio in Atlanta, Jefferson said he "probably would've changed" some of his coaches' play-calls during his team's 21-0 embarrassment if he'd had the authority. A portion of the interview:

Do you second guess yourself on doing things differently?:

“I think we should’ve spread them out a little bit more, put the ball in different passing areas, use our talent on the receiving side. We had that in as far as play-calling, we just didn’t get to it ...

Is that something you realize during the game but you can’t really do anything because you’re not calling the plays?:

“Yeah it definitely always comes to mind and it comes to mind to our receivers and tight ends. We have great guys in those areas and sometimes we just wonder why we don’t use those guys. But we’re not the one calling the plays. We still have to go out and execute what the coaches and coordinators are calling. We can’t complain as players, but sometimes we do question that."

Could you change those plays and audible on the field?:

“Only in certain plays and certain formations, not all the time. … If it was any way where I can change it, I probably would’ve changed some of them.”

As for the coaches' halftime attempts pt get things back on track, Jefferson added that "the adjustment we made wasn't the adjustment we needed to make."

Not surprisingly, Jefferson passed on suggesting he should have been replaced by backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, as guard Will Blackwell and Lee himself have. But his complaint that "sometimes we wonder why we don't use those guys" echoes strongly the gripes of tight end DeAngelo Peterson that the LSU braintrust ignored a game-plan that would have more heavily involved Jefferson's primary targets. (When not opining on the quarterbacking issue, Lee said as much as well.)

As we've stated before, the torrent of criticism in Steve Kragthorpe's, Greg Studrawa's and (to a lesser extent) Les Miles' collective direction would be much more troubling if there were any current players willing to publicly join in.

But that not one former Tiger is willing to stand up for his ex-coaches' performance that night in New Orleans strongly suggests that things were not run well behind the scenes -- not that what was in front of the scenes would argue with those complaints in the slightest -- and that if LSU's offensive coaching staff wants to maintain their players' faith in them, a    strong spring and quick start to 2012 would be highly advisable.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:12 pm
 

LSU TE Peterson questions BCS play-calling

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As historically dominant as Alabama's defense was in 2011, the consensus among LSU fans -- or anyone who watched the BCS national title game, really -- has been that the Crimson Tide got plenty of help in New Orleans from a Tiger offensive braintrust that didn't do their own team any favors. But as now ex-Tiger tight end DeAngelo Peterson has made clear with his comments at the Senior Bowl, it's not just the fans that feel that way.

"The game plan we were working on before the game, I don't think we used it," he told reporters after Senior Bowl practices Tuesday. "I don't think we used it ... I felt we were going to run all the plays we'd been practicing, but they really were calling none of it. I just think the playmakers on offense, they didn't really have a chance to make any plays. That's the big thing that bothers me. We didn't have the opportunity."

Peterson added that he wasn't alone in being frustrated.

"The play-calling bothered the whole offense," he said. "They were doing stuff that we never did all year. The game plan was to spread the ball out, get the ball to me, get the ball to Rueben (Randle), let Russell (Shepard) run the ball every now and then, give the ball to our running backs. In that game, Russell played like two plays, Rueben had like one ball, I had one ball ... I feel like if they had went to the game plan and given the playmakers the ball, they would have done something with the ball."

Peterson felt free to speak his mind during the season as well. But he isn't the first departed LSU senior to publicly question the offensive coaching during the Tigers' BCS meltdown. Quarterback Jarrett Lee said at his own all-star game appearance he "could have been given ... an opportunity to come in and get something going, you know, give them, Alabama, something else to worry about." In the game's immediate aftermath, guard Will Blackwell described the choice between Lee and starter Jordan Jefferson as a "pick-your-poison kind of deal" before saying the coaches "picked the wrong one."

The good news for Les Miles is that to-date, the Tigers still on LSU's roster haven't expressed such doubts in the media, sparing Miles the awkwardness of potential suspensions or other punishments. (Shepard might be viewed as the exception after temporarily declaring for the Draft on Twitter, but now that he's safely back in the fold, that teapot-tempest already appears over.) The bad news is that even if they haven't expressed those doubts publicly, the agreement between the LSU seniors suggests that silence doesn't mean those doubts aren't there. It doesn't help Miles that the seniors have a point: weapons like Randle and Shepard should have gotten the ball more often, Lee should have seen at least a series or two, the play-calling was completely unimaginative.

It's bad enough to lose a national title game that ruins what could have been one of the all-time great seasons in college football. But if the Tigers continue to struggle offensively in 2012 -- with Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa retained to run the offense for a second year -- and those quiet doubts are allowed to fester, the fallout from that fateful night in the Superdome could make that terrible defeat that much more terrible.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Miles denies rumors of BCS pregame conflict

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

So why did Les Miles elect to keep Jarrett Lee rooted to the bench during the BCS title game as Jordan Jefferson flailed his way through the flailingest quarterback performance since, well, his performance against Georgia*? 

It made little-to-no sense, and like most things in college football that make little-to-no sense, rumors and theories have popped up in the game's wake to explain Miles's decision--most of them claiming that Miles faced a minor player revolt in support of Lee just before kickoff, and responded by throwing his own support behind Jefferson as feverishly as ever.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the BCS title game, Miles addressed those rumors, and predictably squashed them.

"Not at all," Miles said when asked if there was any truth behind the speculation. "We took the field just like we always have. There's never been any issue prior to a game. 

"There has never been a player-coach interaction before or after a game that was negative," he added.

Miles instead reiterated his postgame stance that he felt Jefferson's advantage in mobility vs. the Alabama pass rush simply made him the better choice. "We needed someone who could move his feet," Miles said.

Will that be enough to quell the rumors? It's not likely--not when, immobile feet or not, the Tiger offense was crying out for a quarterback who could get the ball downfield and loosen up the Tide front. That quarterback was Lee, especially given how lost Jefferson looked. Given Miles' history as a coach who prefers to juggle quarterbacks over sticking with one guy come hell-or-high-water-or-Alabama's-2011-defense, it's hard not to think some kind of off-field development shaded his thinking in some fashion.

But will we ever truly know for certain one way or the other? That's even less likely.

Miles also addressed several other topics Tuesday:

-- On star quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel's departure for Notre Dame after a previous commitment to LSU: ""There's a guy in the Midwest that's staying close to home. I understand that very much. This recruiting class will still be the style of class that we've had in years past."

-- On whether the ascension of projected 2012 starter Zach Mettenberger might lead to a shift in offensive philosophy:  "We'll throw the football more ... We'll have a guy who can scramble, but he'll throw the football for a greater percentage."

-- On Lee's excellent performance (13 of 18, 176 yards, 2 TDs) at a recent All-Star game: "I understand he did well, and I think that's great." 

*In retrospect, Jefferson's 5-for-13, 2.3 yards-per-attempt outing against the Bulldogs should have been treated as a much bigger red flag than it was.  

All quotes via reporter Glenn Guilbeau's CBSSports.com LSU RapidReports. Follow them for up-to-the-minute LSU updates and analysis here.

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

Jefferson switch backfires on Miles as Lee sits

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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Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:35 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Alabama 21, LSU 0



Posted by Adam Jacobi


ALABAMA WON. The Alabama Crimson Tide captured the 2012 BCS Championship with a suffocating 21-0 victory over LSU.

HOW ALABAMA WON: Alabama's defense held LSU to a paltry 92 yards, and Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley hit five field goals out of a bowl record seven attempts. That, put together, was more than enough for Alabama to get the win and the title.

WHEN ALABAMA WON: The moment Les Miles decided he was never going to use Jarrett Lee in the game. Jordan Jefferson was downright abysmal as LSU's quarterback, going 11-17 for 53 yards and gaining 15 yards on 14 rushes, and while Alabama's defense deserves a great deal of credit for that, it should also be noted that Jefferson was equal parts indecisive and ineffective even when he did have time to throw the ball or run. True, Alabama victimized Lee in the two teams' first meeting, but Jefferson was much more productive in that game. Miles needed to make a change, and he didn't do it.

WHAT ALABAMA WON: Alabama takes home a well-earned BCS Championship, and Nick Saban has solidified his standing as the best coach in college football. AJ McCarron became the first sophomore or younger to win a BCS Championship, and Trent Richardson reminded everyone why he's the best back in college football by finishing the game off with a 34-yard touchdown scamper.

WHAT LSU LOST: As mentioned before, LSU was victimized by Les Miles' stubborn insistence on keeping Jordan Jefferson at quarterback, and LSU just never brought anything at Alabama that caught the Tide off guard. LSU didn't convert any third downs until the fourth quarter, and going into the fourth, LSU had two first downs to its name. The LSU defense could have played the game of its life and not overcome that kind of ineptitude on the other side of the ball. And for that, the crystal football eludes Les Miles and his charges this year.

THAT WAS CRAZY: In the game's first big play, Marquis Maze took a punt back 54 yards -- quite a feat considering LSU had allowed six punt return yards all season. Unfortunately, the return could have been even longer, but Maze pulled up lame in the middle of the return with a hurt hamstring. The injury kept him out for the rest of the game, but Maze's return set a tone that LSU couldn't match all game long.

FINAL GRADE: C. Alabama's defensive performance was the stuff of legend, but that doesn't change the fact that in eight games and an overtime, these two teams combined for 10 field goals and one touchdown. LSU looked downright inept at times -- which happens often against the Alabama defense -- and Oklahoma State fans must be wondering how hard it would have been for the Cowboys to beat LSU. But at least someone scored a touchdown.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:25 pm
 

RapidReport Roundup: LSU vs. Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rounding up all the latest from CBSSports.com Alabama and LSU Rapid Reporters Jim Dunn and Glenn Guilbeau ... and what it might mean for the big game.

  
  

Don't expect a blowout. “Every game I think we played against LSU in the last five games comes right down to the wire, some kind of way," Nick Saban said Sunday, and he's not exaggerating. Those five games -- all since Saban took over in Tuscaloosa, transforming what had been your average SEC blood feud into something even more intense between his former and current teams -- and have been decided by a total of 28 points, with two games going into overtime and none featuring a margin greater than 2009's nine. Whether or not the rematch lives up to the hype of the first meeting from an aesthetics standpoint (and there are those, of course, who will argue the first meeting already did), there's little doubt the final minutes will be as dramatic as ever.

Optioning away from the option? One of the key factors in LSU's win in the Prematch was their success with an option play featuring Jordan Jefferson and Michael Ford, a look which -- thanks to Jefferson's reduced role as Jarrett Lee started -- the Tigers had barely shown entering the game. The usually uber-prepared Tide defense seemed to be caught off guard, but Ford isn't expecting that to be the case the second time around.  "Alabama will be better against it this time," Ford said. "So we've just got to trick 'em -- act like we're going to run the option and run something different. When me, (tailback/fullback) Kenny Hilliard and Jordan Jefferson are in there, it's scary. It opens everything up. We can run between the tackles with Kenny. We can go option with me. Or we can throw it. You don't know what's coming at you."

That's not wrong, and both Jefferson's ascension and Hilliard's late-season charge are two reasons that the Tigers can hope for more offensive success than they saw on Nov. 5. But with the Tide knowing that LSU knows they might have to move away from the option, we might encourage the Tigers to stick with it--big plays against the Tide defense are precious, and proper execution might give them one against a defense that's looking for the change-up away from it.

First opponent: the layoff. Saban has never lacked for confidence in his coaching approach (and why would he, given the results), so it was somewhat surprising to hear him admit Sunday -- even after taking his Tide to the BCS national championship game in 2009-10 -- he isn't entirely sure how to handle the lengthy span between the end of the regular season and the title game. “When you have this much time between games, obviously you're always wondering as a coach. 'Are we practicing enough? Are we practicing too much?'" Saban said.

One could argue that uncertainty has played itself out in Saban's bowl record--his 6-3 mark is well above-average, but it's included a couple of clunkers, like the 2008 Tide's inexplicable blowout loss to Utah. (Miles, meanwhile, is 5-1 at LSU.) That's probably too small a sample size to make any firm conclusions, and it's not like the Tide haven't had several impressive bowl wins under Saban, too--last year's utter demolition of Michigan State being Exhibit A. But if we had to pick a team that might come out a little less certain than the other, especially in New Orleans, we'd lean towards Alabama.

Other tidbits. Miles says his team is ready. "They're a team that loves to play. The lights come on, and they want it. This will be a game that will be very representative of that" ... Saban said win or lose, there's one change coming Monday. “Every time we play LSU, I've got to change my phone number because people blow up my phone,” he joked ... Judging from the reaction to games like the Alamo Bowl and Rose Bowl, we're not sure fans are really clamoring for another field goal-decided slugfest. But Ford disagrees. "I don't think that's a game," he said of the pinball bowl games. "I think people get tired of seeing all those points on the board. They want to see a hard-fought game" ... LSU isn't a bigger rival for Alabama than Auburn, but Mark Barron says the gap is shrinking. “This is a rivalry that's grown over the years here recently due to the level of competition. I wouldn't say it's bigger than the Auburn rivalry, but it's growing slowly." After two No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in the space of three months, here's wondering if by the end of the night, it's moved far past growing "slowly."

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