Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Quarterbacks; Recruiting Update

With spring practice just a couple of weeks away, it's time to start taking a look at LSU's 2010 football team.  I generally like to do an in depth preview of each position highlighting the key position battles that we'll keep an eye on throughout spring practice.  I'll be trying my best to get through each position before spring practice begins. 


For the first time since the 2006 season, LSU can use the words "returning starter" when referencing the quarterback position.  That lack of experience at quarterback has been a large reason why LSU has struggled in 2008 and 2009.  The hope is that a veteran quarterback will go a long way in returning LSU to "elite" status in college football. 

In his first season as LSU's starter, Jordan Jefferson did an OK job.  He wasn't great.  But he completed over 61% of his passes, and he took good care of the football.   In looking at Jamarcus Russell's first year as a full-time starter, Jefferson compares very favorably.  Here is a comparison of the two:

Russell (2005):  60.5% completion  2443 yards  15 TDs  9 INTs
Jefferson (2009):  61.5% completion  2166 yards  17 TDs  7 INTs 

Jefferson also ran for 415 yards not counting sacks.  It's important to note that Russell was able to lean on a strong offensive line and running game.  The same can't be said for Jefferson.  Another point of interest is that Russell was in his third collegiate season while Jefferson was in his second. 

That comparison doesn't mean that Jefferson is on his way to an All-SEC season and a #1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft.  He needs a lot of improvement.  Jefferson was often very tentative to throw the ball if the receiver wasn't wide open.  As a result, he took a very high number of sacks.  He needs to trust his arm and trust that his receivers can make a play.  That seems likely to improve now that he's more experienced.  The fans and coaches will certainly look for him to have more of a "take charge" demeanor. 

One of Jefferson's strengths is that he's able to run the ball effectively, and he forces the defense to account for him in the running game.  In 2009, it seems that LSU's coaching staff got away from calling a lot of designed runs for Jefferson after the first game.  Against Washington, Jefferson took a couple of big hits and he was rarely used as a runner after that.  I'm curious to see how often Jefferson is on the move next season.  In my opinion, he's much more effective when he's integrated into the running game. 

Jefferson enters spring practice as the clear starter, and I fully expect him to be the starter for the 2010 season. 

Behind Jefferson, Jarrett Lee returns to LSU for his junior season.  Many have speculated that Lee would transfer, but he'll be out at the Ponderosa this spring.  We all know about Lee's struggles as a freshman during the 2008 season.  He was given an opportunity to show that he had improved when he started the Louisiana Tech game in 2009 while Jefferson was injured.  However, Lee struggled badly and convinced everyone that he may never be a contributor as LSU's quarterback.  For that reason, I expect Lee to be pushed for the backup position this spring. 

Redshirt freshman Chris Garrett has earned some very positive reviews from the practice fields, and many are expecting that Garrett will not only challenge Lee for the #2 spot but that he may even push Jefferson.  Garrett is a big guy at 6'4" 235 pounds and has a strong arm.  He is a true pocket passer.  He will be a very important guy to watch this spring. 

At this point, I'm hearing that Russell Shepard will primarily play wide receiver this spring so I don't think he's in the mix at quarterback. 

After Garrett, that leaves walk-on T.C. McCartney. 

In the fall, true freshman Zach Lee and walk-on Barrett Bailey will join the mix.  Lee is also a big-time baseball player and is expected to be drafted high in the Major League Baseball draft.  If he's drafted high enough, then he may not be at LSU in the fall. 

The most important thing to watch this spring is the improvement of Jordan Jefferson.  Number two on the list is the development of Chris Garrett. 

Depth Chart:
Jordan Jefferson (Jr)
Jarrett Lee (Jr)
Chris Garrett (Fr)
T.C. McCartney (Jr)
Zach Lee (Fr)
Barrett Bailey (Fr)


I discussed that Texas had their Junior Day this weekend and as expected, they landed a number of verbal commitments.  They received 13 commitments over the weekend.  The good news for LSU fans is that most of the guys that LSU is heavily recruiting left Austin without pledging to Texas. 

Guys like OL Sedrick Flowers, LB Trevon Randle, DE Cedric Reed, and DE Nathan Hughes are still on the market.  Flowers and Randle are planning to be at LSU's Junior Day next weekend.   It's also important to note that Texas has commitments from two wide receivers.  After taking six in the Class of 2010, they may be done at receiver or only be looking to take one more.  That should help LSU's chances with Trey Metoyer, a receiver from Whitehouse, Texas who is strongly considering LSU. 

Safety Sheroid Evans did commit to Texas, and LSU was recruiting him. 

I'll try to track down a good list of prospects who are attending LSU's Junior Day sometime this week.


Post a Comment


Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting