There is an adage in football that playing two quarterbacks really means not having any, but LSU isn't subscribing to that adage.
The top-ranked Tigers enter Saturday night's game at No. 2 Alabama masterfully balancing the talents of seniors Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Lee has the better arm and has put it to use like never before, while Jefferson is a combination threat who has two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in the past four games.
"I don't know if it is my management skill in any way," LSU coach Les Miles said Monday afternoon. "I think it has to do with guys that recognize that they are part of a whole and realize that their contribution is significant. Whoever is off the field roots for the one taking the snaps and is as involved as that guy who is taking the snaps."
This was supposed to be Jefferson's show. The 6-foot-5, 224-pounder was the wire-to-wire starter a year ago and capped his junior season with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score in LSU's 41-24 thumping of Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
Eight days before this year's opener against Oregon, however, Jefferson was arrested and suspended, leaving Lee with the keys to an ultra-talented offense.
The 6-2, 207-pound Lee set an NCAA single-season record in 2008 as a redshirt freshman when seven of his 16 interceptions were returned for touchdowns. This season, he has completed 98 of 155 passes (63.2 percent) for 1,250 yards with 13 touchdowns and only one interception.
Jefferson was reinstated to the program after missing all four September contests, which included three victories over ranked teams. He got in for seven snaps during LSU's 35-7 thumping of Kentucky on Oct. 1 and has averaged 18 snaps since in blowouts of Florida, Tennessee and Auburn.
Alabama coach Nick Saban does not believe LSU's offense changes when Jefferson, who has 111 rushing yards on 26 carries this season, comes in for Lee.
"They're going to run the ball downhill on you, and when you put them all up there, they're going to try to throw it over your head and make big plays," Saban said Monday. "Then they've got their specialty packages they utilize. They do a good job of utilizing a lot of specialty players."
Both LSU quarterbacks, especially Jefferson, were effective in last season's 24-21 upset victory over the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge. Jefferson completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, while Lee was 4-for-7 for 67 yards.
Miles was asked if Jefferson might have an increased role this week because of his success against Alabama last year.
"Jefferson will play a key role in Saturday's contest," Miles said. "How much he will play I am not certain. I can tell you the things that he does and that he does well will be oiled up, and he will be ready to play."
Miles used both Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux in 2007 and won a national championship.
Flynn led the Tigers to a victory over Ohio State for the BCS title, but it was Perrilloux who led them to a win over Tennessee for the SEC crown.
"I think you have to have that," Miles said. "You need two guys that are ready to tee it up and play."
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