BCS Special

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2012



Few could have seen this coming back in August for LSU senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

The former Destrehan star and St. Rose native was implicated in a highly controversial bar fight that saw him suspended early in the season and cost him his job as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, a job he had occupied since taking over as a true freshman in November 2008.

The charges levied against Jefferson (he and linebacker Josh Johns were arrested on charges on simple battery after the Aug. 19 fight) were reduced, and Jefferson was reinstated and returned to action after a four-game absence. Upon his return he was relegated to situational duty behind fellow senior Jarrett Lee, who had guided the Tigers to a 4-0 start.

But his senior season wouldn’t be spoiled, not by a long shot. Jefferson was called to duty when his team needed him most: as the Tigers, ranked first in the nation, tangled with No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Lee struggled, throwing two interceptions, but Jefferson’s entry into the game changed its dynamic — suddenly, the Tigers had a rushing threat at quarterback that could stretch the Tide to the edge, and its run game started to get rolling thanks to his own production and the added attention he received. He passed for 67 yards and rushed for 43; LSU outrushed Alabama 148-96 in terms of yardage.

“I knew I would be back. I thought it would be quicker,” said Jefferson last week in an interview with the media. “Those four weeks were long weeks. But once I got back … I could see it in the team that we were gonna be in this game.”

He finished this season with perhaps his most efficient numbers, completing 50 of 83 passes for 684 yards and six touchdowns, while tossing just one interception.

He rushed 61 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns. With 26 yards against Ole Miss late in the regular season, Jefferson broke the school record for quarterback career rushing yardage, with 1,003. He is sixth in LSU history in passing yardage, completion percentage and completions and has accounted for 46 touchdowns in his career.

“Those four years flew by,” said Jefferson. “It’s been a great four years for me.”

LSU sits at 13-0 and has gone through a murderer’s row of ranked teams, with Jefferson starting in victories over Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia and playing a smaller role in wins over Auburn, and Florida, all SEC foes ranked in the top 25.

“We expected this,” said Jefferson. “Even before the season, we knew we were ready to do whatever it took to get to this national championship game in New Orleans … Being 13-0 doesn’t matter if we don’t win this last game, though.”

As he’s started from his freshman season, Jefferson is no stranger to bowl games — or success in them. He is 2-1 in his previous three bowl appearances, accounting for six touchdowns, two interceptions and 605 total yards.

Coach Les Miles said Jefferson has done well with the extra preparation time in the past, and Jefferson said he’s put the extra time to good use once again.

“Watching a lot of extra film, the scout team is doing a great job giving us the looks that we need,” said Jefferson. “I think we’re getting closer and closer to being ready for this game.”

The first LSU/Alabama game was a defensive struggle, and Jefferson spoke of the need to build momentum early this time out to generate first downs and enough points to walk away with the BCS trophy.

“Once you find that momentum, it’s kind of hard to stop any offense,” he said.

Jefferson certainly has found some momentum this season, a season that initially looked like it would generate anything but.

“I’ve definitely learned from the adversity,” he said. “It does feel like destiny. Everything happens for a reason, and from bad situations, you can always find good at the end. Things turned out good for me, as far as getting my life back together. And now, we’re playing for the national championship.”