Spring practice is getting underway at SEC schools, and one of the programs that has been in spring training for a few weeks is LSU, who looks to improve on an impressive 11-2 campaign last season.
LSU surprised many by winning 11 games, but for most of the season, it seemed like LSU lacked a true leader.
Jordan Jefferson, LSU's starting QB for most of the past few seasons, struggled mightily at times. LSU's offense sputtered in big games and left the defense out to dry.
Most fans say the team won 11 games despite Jefferson, not because of him.
If you're expecting the same from the up-and-down Bayou Bengal in 2011, you might be in for a surprise.
I believe that LSU's offense struggled last year not because of Jefferson's inability, but rather because of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
Crowton left LSU this offseason and LSU went out an hired a more player-friendly guy to run the offense.
Now with Crowton out of the way, I think this is Jefferson's time to shine.
Jefferson is a great dual threat, but his passing has left a lot to be desired by LSU fans.
But don't worry, Tiger faithful, Jefferson showed signs of life late last year.
In the first eight games of the season, LSU's offense failed miserably, averaging just 25.5 points and just under 318 yards per game.
Things were shaping up to be the same in a highly-anticipated matchup in Death Valley against former coach Nick Saban and the defending national champion Alabama, who came in with one loss and in position to win another BCS title.
Alabama led 7-3 at halftime and LSU's offense looked awful.
At halftime, Les Miles decided to take some play-calling duties into his own hands and out of Gary Crowton's. In the second half, Jefferson became a gunslinger, leading LSU to 21 points and over 300 yards in the second half ALONE.
LSU won, 24-21, derailing the Crimson Tide's hopes of winning the BCS title, SEC title and even the SEC Western Division.
In their final four games, including the Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M, LSU averaged 39.5 points and 365 yards per game.
Now Jefferson is in a quarterback competition with veteran Jarrett Lee and JUCO transfer Zack Mettenberger, who is in a "Cam Newton Scenario," meaning he's a JUCO transfer who was once on another SEC squad (Georgia), went to JUCO, came back to the SEC at a different school and can take over college football.
Newton, who had played at Florida but transferred to Blinn Junior College after legend Tim Tebow announced he was returning for his senior season in 2009, signed with Auburn, won a spring QB competition and led the orange and blue Tigers to a 14-0 record and the BCS National Championship.
However, Jefferson is the favorite over Mettenberger and Lee, as he should be.
Without an inept offensive coordinator, is it time for the once-hyped LSU QB to break out and show what he can really do?
I say, "Yes."
I think Jefferson is underrated and, with a tricky mind like Les Miles to work with, he could do some real damage to opposing defenses.
Think he isn't that good, still? Ask Alabama and Texas A&M if he's any good, and you'll get an immediate response.
Is he the best QB in the country? No.
But I think he might be the diamond in the rough in the SEC this year. He's the overlooked gem that could make people wonder why they ever doubted him.
With a new OC and new confidence, 2011 could be a huge year for Jordan Jefferson.
If he wins this QB competition over the talented Mettenberger, it may be a warning to the SEC that this is a new Jefferson.
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