Miles says he is fan of Jefferson, doesn’t hear boos

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BATON ROUGE — The booing had settled down around Tiger Stadium by Monday, but the talk of the campus was still the rude welcome backup quarterback Jordan Jefferson got from the home fans for his first snaps of the season.

The current debate centered around whether the fans who booed Jefferson’s appearance were booing him for being there or head coach Les Miles for putting him there.

“Jordan Jefferson didn’t have any choice,” Miles said. “I sent him in the game, OK?”

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Miles said it doesn’t matter and reiterated that Jarrett Lee, who has thrown only one interception while directing the offense for the 5-0, No.1-ranked Tigers, is still the starting quarterback as the LSU prepares for a home showdown with Florida.

“I never hear those things anyway,” said Miles, although immediately after the Tigers’ 35-7 victory over Kentucky Saturday he admitted he heard the boos loud and clear when Jefferson was sent into the game with the Tigers facing and fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line on their second possession.

“If they’re doing it as a bold statement for a call that was made out on the field, whether it was a run or the pass, or the goal-line defense or something that they needed to boo, it doesn’t do them any good anyway

“It’s not something that I respond to. Ever. Again, it doesn’t affect me much.”

Jefferson scored on a quarterback sneak on his only play of the first half for LSU’s first points, but was mildly booed during the one series he played in the third quarter.

He didn’t throw a pass, but ended the game with four rushes for 29 yards.

“I wanted to get him on the field as fast as I could,” Miles said of his thinking. “I like Jordan Jefferson and I think the mistake he made is one that will not be repeated.”

Jefferson rejoined the team for last Thursday’s light practice. He was reinstated the previous day when a grand jury reduced a felony charge of second-degree battery down to a misdemeanor. The original charge, which stemmed from the infamous parking lot brawl outside a nightspot near campus, got Jefferson suspended a week before the season opener.

Jefferson was penciled in as LSU’s starter before his suspension. After practice Monday night, Jefferson spoke to the media for the first time and the Associated Press reported that he hoped to get the starting job back.

But Miles said he isn’t sure what, if anything, Jefferson’s role will be this week against Florida or beyond.

“We’re so early into the plan that it is difficult to figure,” he said. “I can tell you that Jarrett Lee is our starter and our vision certainly first and foremost takes Lee into mind.

“That is how we are approaching it. We’ll get to the other end, some other aspects of the offense, later down the road.”

Florida should bring back fond memories for Lee. A year ago he came off the bench in relief of Jefferson to direct a last-minute, 61-yard game-winning drive in a 33-29 victory.

He completed passes of 18 and 28 yards, before hitting Terrence Tolliver from 3 yards out for the game-winning touchdown with just six seconds remaining.

But Miles and Jefferson’s teammates are happy to have him back.

“He’s a leader on this team and a guy we trust,” said center P.J. Lonergan. “When he’s in there, there’s certain plays that we have in just because of his athleticism and being able to run the ball that helps us out in the game.”

As for the fans who booed Jefferson’s return, Miles suggested some of them look in the mirror.

“When he went in the game he’d already served a four-game suspension,” Miles said. “He’s been through quite a lot.

“It appears to me that this thing is going to be a misdemeanor — not unlike a lot of the people in the stands who possibly have had similar run-ins with the law.

“I suspect that they weren’t penalized nearly as significantly as this guy was.

“I’d like to think maybe that when he went on the field he was kind of erasing some of those days when he wondered if he’d ever be back.”