The numbers back him up. In three previous contests against Alabama, Lee is 21 of 51 (41%) for 292 yards One TD. FIVE INT's and a dismal 76.1 QB rating.
In a media conference call yesterday, CBS analyst Gary Danielson said Quarterbacks are judged based on their performance in big games. “Everyone likes to drive on highways with no traffic.It's those times under pressure that we all get judged.” he said. Danielson was actually speaking in reference to the fact that Alabama Quarterback AJ McCarron has yet to be seriously challenged. But the analogy applies just as well to Lee. While McCarron hasn’t faced serious adversity in his only season as the starter, Lee has had at least three opportunities: 2008, 2009 and 2010 against Alabama. LSU is 1-2 in those games, with the only win coming while, from the sidelines, he watched Jordan Jefferson channel his inner Cam Newton.
His 2011 challenge is to travel to Tuscaloosa and exorcise his demons before 102,000 screaming Crimson Tide fans and a global CBS television audience. Against an Alabama defense that is both statistically and physically more ferocious than any of the last three he’s seen?
Good luck with that, Jarrett.
You have to give the Senior signal caller some credit, though. Under the tutelage of Quarterbacks Coach Steve Kragthorpe, Lee has made some strides this season. So far, he’s 98 of 155 for 1,250 yards, 13 TD’s and only one INT. He’s a much more respectable 157.4 rating. But those stats are against 2011 opponents not named Alabama.
There have been some big games along the way. He struggled a bit against Oregon in the season opener. The Ducks have arguably the best defense LSU has seen this year, and they held him to 10 for 22 passing for 98 yards and a single TD. You could make the case that he was shaking off first game jitters but the truth is still that he wasn’t much of a factor in that game. Against Mississippi State two weeks later, Lee went 21 of 27 for 213 yards. One TD, one INT. The pick came in the 4th quarter, with LSU tenuously holding onto a 12-6 lead. The turnover set Mississippi State up inside Tiger territory with a chance to score on a short field and go up 13-12.
Mississippi State didn’t have the offensive firepower to make LSU pay for Lee’s mistake this time. But Mississippi State is no Alabama. Turn the ball over against that team late in the fourth, and you are in serious, serious danger.
Going back to Danielson’s analysis: “It’s those times under pressure that we all get judged.”