Jefferson moving on up, LSU confident on QB's skills
Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
HOOVER, Ala. — He heard it. He heard the message boards even if he stayed away from them. He heard the national critics even if he didn't listen to them.
The stinging words always found their way back to Jordan Jefferson.
LSU is a starting quarterback away from winning a national championship.
The starting quarterback heard it all.
“It kind of hurts a little bit because I'm eight wins away from winning the most games at LSU,” Jordan Jefferson said. “It's all about winning games. By the end of the season, I could go down in history.”
But his legacy awaits. Jefferson came to LSU with plenty of promise but his inconsistent play forced LSU coaches to swap him in and out with Jarrett Lee last year. Lee is still there, looming over Jefferson's shoulder along with former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who transferred to LSU from junior college.
On Friday at SEC Media Days, Jefferson had the look of a confident quarterback. He has a new offensive coordinator in Steve Kragthorpe and a strong offensive line protecting him. He also has coach Les Miles in his corner.
“He has confidence as a person. He's leading,” Miles said. “There's a peace to him. Jordan Jefferson will handle the competition in that position as well as anyone.
“The people using the name ‘SlickWillie' on the message boards don't have credible opinions. As long as he makes people in our meeting rooms happy, he'll be fine.”
Jefferson is hoping his strong showing in LSU's 41-24 win over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl will help propel him into the 2011 season. After a Jefferson interception helped the Aggies jump out to a 10-0 lead, he rallied the Tigers by throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another.
Jefferson finished that game 10-of-19 for 158 yards.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” Jefferson said. “I wanted that game to carry me over to the next season.
“I'm doing a lot to try to change perceptions about me. I'm buying into the system, being more of a leader, doing the things I wasn't prepared to do last year.”
Which, of course, begs the question — why weren't you prepared to do them last year?
“I've never been in a situation like I was in last year,” he said. “I had games where I was throwing eight passes. I've been playing football 13 years and I've never been in that situation.
“It was hard for me. Our offense was predictable. We'd run the first two downs and then it'd be third-and-9 or third-and-12. I'd have to try to make a play. We didn't change until after the Auburn game and then we started throwing points.”
It's clear Jefferson and former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton didn't see eye-to-eye. But with Kragthorpe calling the plays, Jefferson could be ready to emerge as one of the league's elite quarterbacks.
And as the face of the program.
“He's the definite leader of our team,” said center T-Bob Hebert. “It hurt to hear some of the things that were being said about him. He's worked hard at being our leader.”