Lee Gets First Start, Grabs SEC Honors
Jarrett Lee shines in State win; named SEC Freshman of the Week
by Matt Reynolds
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
(At left) Jarrett Lee went 17 of 26 for 261 yards and two touchdowns versus Miss. State (Photo by Steve Franz/LSU)
After LSU’s 34-24 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, it seems the Tigers could now have an offensive look that was missing last season: a full-time quarterback
In LSU’s 2007 title run, quarterback Matt Flynn was clearly the starter, but the mobile backup Ryan Perrilloux received action in many different packages in most of the games.
Redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee might have sealed his spot as the Tigers without-a-doubt quarterback after his performance against State on Saturday, if he hadn’t already solidified the spot after his heroic performance in Auburn a week earlier.
Even though Lee had an amazing second half to counter punch his horrific first half in Auburn to lead the Tigers to the road conference victory, there was still some uncertainty if he would be the man when sophomore Andrew Hatch fully recovered from his concussion. Not to mention, freshman Jordan Jefferson no longer had a redshirt, so that could have meant much more playing time for him.
But Lee’s numbers and decision making against the Bulldog defense might have put the two-quarterback talk to sleep for good.
“I liked Jarrett Lee tonight,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “He threw some doggone good footballs. He passed for some yards, and I think we’re very capable throwing the football with him there.”
The redshirt freshman quarterback completed 18-of-27 passes for a career-high 261 yards and two touchdowns against MSU in his first career start. His only blemish on the evening was an interception in the second quarter.
For his performance, Lee was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance in the Tigers’ 34-24 win over Mississippi State, the league office announced on Monday.
The 261 passing yards were the most by an LSU freshman since 1999 when Josh Booty threw for 280 yards in a loss to Georgia.
Lee also became the first LSU freshman to go the distance and win his first SEC start since Herb Tyler helped the Tigers past Ole Miss, 38-9, in 1995.
Lee is ranked second in the SEC in quarterback ratings now five weeks into the season with a rating of 146.51 in four games played. He barley trails only Tim Tebow of Florida who has a rating of 146.74.
On the season, Lee has completed 45-of-75 passes for 643 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing three picks.
“Things were looking a little clearer out there tonight,” Lee said after the Mississippi State game. “The offensive line was blocking great and the receivers were running their routes well.”
Lee agreed that his game experience in Auburn helped him prepare and react more naturally against State.
“That gave me a lot of confidence,” Lee said about his performance at Auburn. “We had a good week at practice this week. We knew coming in to this game it was going to be a dog fight. We just played hard and came out with a victory.”
Lee’s favorite target on the evening, as it has been all season, was junior wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
LaFell, who caught the eventual game-winning touchdown at Auburn a week before, grabbed seven passes for 100 yards against MSU.
The speedy junior would have had a touchdown, but a fumble as he was sprinting across the goal line was picked up by tight end Richard Dickson for the score.
With 22 receptions for 348 yards and three touchdowns, LaFell is second in the SEC in receiving.
Miles said after the game that Lee did exactly what he wanted him to do by efficiently getting the ball in the hands of the Tigers talented skill players.
“That’s all we wanted from Jarrett Lee, to get the ball to the guys that the play calls for,” Miles said. “Read it and throw it, and he did that. I thought he handled the game very well.”
Lee feels that his play is could be partly contributed to the outstanding rushing play of Charles Scott this season. Scott currently leads the SEC with 536 rushing yards.
“Charles has been just great with what he has done for us this season,” Lee said.
Lee, who was the first redshirt freshman to start a game for LSU since JaMarcus Russell, has now strung together a near perfect six quarters of play over the past two weeks. Lumping in the second half at Auburn and the entire Mississippi State game, Lee stats are 29-of-44 for 443 yards and four touchdowns while throwing just one interception.
“The veterans do a great job during practice during the week of keeping us prepared,” Lee said. “The comeback at Auburn really boosted our confidence up last week and coming back home this week, boosted our play up.”
Other honors handed out by the SEC on Monday include quarterback John Parker Wilson of Alabama as the offensive player of the week, Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman as the defensive lineman of the week, Kentucky offensive tackle Garry Williams as the offensive lineman of the week, Ole Miss safety Jamarca Sanford as the defensive player of the week, and South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop as the special teams player of the week.