Players of the Game: Offense
Jefferson and Toliver collaborate for career games
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
It would be a tremendous understatement to say that LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson has had a rough year.
Despite leading the Tigers to 10 victories and only two defeats in the regular season, the junior quarterback threw just four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
And one possession into the 75th Cotton Bowl Classic, it appeared LSU faithful would be in for much of the same from the much-maligned signal caller as he threw a pick in the Red Zone.
“I really couldn’t let that turnover define us as a team or let that mess up everything for us,” said Jefferson. “I had to come out the next drive and make sure we put points on the board.”
But the rest of the Cotton Bowl was sweet redemption for Jefferson, leading the Tigers back from a 10-0 deficit with touchdowns on five of LSU’s next six possessions (if you don’t include a half-ending handoff).
“He pulled some key balls down and picked up first downs with his feet and kept drives alive,” said LSU head coach Les Miles. “It allowed us to score. I think his play tonight is one of the reasons why we won.”
Jefferson accounted for four of those five scores. Three came with his arm on touchdown passesf 42, 2 and 41 yards, and the other came on a one-yard touchdown scamper around the end.
“It gives me a lot of confidence. I’ll use this game and turn it over to the spring and the 2011 season,” said the quarterback. “I feel this 2011 season will be very special for us, and we’ll use this game as our starting point.”
But a successful Cotton Bowl was more than just a well-played game for Jefferson, who wanted to prove the naysayers wrong.
“I came to this game with the mindset of showing the critics that I can go out on the field and do things to be a good quarterback, and I really feel like I did that tonight,” said Jefferson.
And quite possibly the player most thankful for Jefferson’s sudden turnaround is senior wide receiver Terrence Toliver, who was on the receiving end of all three of Jefferson’s passing scores and took home Offensive MOP (Most Outstanding Player) honors.
“I think this is the most complete game he’s played,” said Toliver. “I think this should be a stepping stone for him and momentum going into next season.”
Jefferson’s struggles this season contributed to Toliver only having 36 catches and two touchdowns in the regular season.
But Toliver, along with Coach Miles, feel the senior wide receiver used his lack of offensive production this year as an opportunity to become better at all facets of his game.
“My senior year, I didn’t have as many catches as I did last year, but I learned how to adjust and block,” said Toliver. “We had a 1,000 yard rusher this year.”
But Toliver never lost his receiving ability, especially his ability to beat man-to-man coverage, and he showed his talents over and over again in the 75th Cotton Bowl Classic.
“He was very excellent at [beating man-to man coverage]. He was basically one on one all night,” said Jefferson. “I feel like I could have gone to him a little more.”
The win and the successful outing is especially important for Toliver, who tied a Cotton Bowl record with three receiving scores not only in his home state, but against his cousin, Aggie DE Eddie Brown.
“To have the game of my life in my home state is very great for me,” said Toliver. “It feels great beating a Texas school. It gives me bragging rights. I can tell my cousin that I played against him, and I beat him.”