With moments to go in the first half of Thursday night's critical SEC Football game, the No. 3 LSU Tigers took a 6-3 lead over Mississippi State.
It hasn't been easy, and nobody expected it to be. MSU is a solid team on the rise that suffered a tough loss last week to Auburn when quarterback Chris Relf was tackled at the goal line on the last play of the game.
Here are a few quick observations on the Tigers' performance in the first half against the Bulldogs.
Jarrett Lee is solid, bordering on very good, ready to move into outstanding.
Forget the stats; Mississippi State has a solid defense and Lee is still settling into the job. But don't be tempted to change signal-callers.
The LSU quarterback, stepping in for the suspended Jordan Jefferson, has been a more-than-capable replacement. Right now, Lee is keeping Jordan Jefferson suspended and Zach Mettenberger on the bench.
And that could mean an interesting quandary at the quarterback spot. Jefferson’s family is already lobbying for last year’s starter to come off his indefinite suspension and reclaim his spot.
Jefferson wasn’t even on the plane to Starkville, according to BayouBuzz.com.
"Everybody is hurt; it's unfair to him," said his aunt, Angela Lucas.
As the website noted, Jordan's suspension stems from an alleged fight back on August 19 outside Shady's bar in Baton Rouge. Victim Andrew Lowery claims Jefferson and a number of players beat him up, and Jefferson went as far as to kick him in the head a number of times.
Trust your instincts, trust your line.
This is a case of feeding the big dog.
Spencer Ware was just abusing MSU through the first half of the first quarter, picking up a couple of big first downs on the opening scoring drive. But on a second and goal play, LSU went with J.C. Copeland for a no-gain from the 4-yard line.
Sure, there’s something to be said for mixing it up and keeping the defense off balance. But there’s also something to be said for the theory of going back to the well until it runs dry.
Ware and Michael Ford could be the best running duo in the country.
You gave the kid the keys, now let him drive the car.
Coach Les Miles should open the offense a little more and spread the field for quarterback Jarrett Lee. Freshman receiver Odell Beckham is proving in the first half that he belongs, but it serves no purpose for Lee nor Beckham to run wide receiver screens.
Instead, let Lee show off his arm a little bit and keep the MSU defense a little more honest.
Heck, look at what he did late in the second quarter, throwing out of his own end zone and delivering a 30-yard strike to Reuben Randle.
Put a shadow or a mirror on Chris Relf.
Yeah, Relf is a big guy at 240 pounds and he's not exactly a Michael Vick back there—though very good—but the Tigers should still put the shadow on Relf.
Let him know he's got a guy in his face the whole time, putting a little pressure on. Relf has matured quite a bit over the last year, but he can still be flustered.
As we said, Mississippi State is not exactly a pushover, especially in Starkville. This is a program with high expectations after finishing last year with the blowout bowl victory over Michigan.
That said, much more is expected of LSU.
This is a program with national championship aspirations this season, but the Tigers haven't played like it tonight. Some spotty play-calling early has been somewhat of a culprit, and MSU's quick defensive line certainly can't be discounted, but some Tiger players need to step up.
And, no, that doesn't include Jarrett Lee, who, as of this writing, had completed nine consecutive passes.
Time to play like a national championship team.