Sunday, September 21, 2008

Against All Odds: Lee Drives LSU to Victory

In my lifetime I really wonder if I will ever, 100 percent comprehend, what Jarrett Lee pulled off at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night.

When all the dust has settled and this game is looked back at in 15 years it will not be the ending of the home winning streak in the LSU/Auburn series that will be remembered, but more importantly the emergence of an LSU quarterback. The birth of a leader who lead his team to victory, despite going against all odds.

Lets try and put into perspective what Lee accomplished last night.

One year ago on October 20, 2007, LSU trailed Auburn 17-7 at half in Tiger Stadium. Even with Glenn Dorsey, Matt Flynn, Jacob Hester, and Early Doucet on the roster, victory for the Tigers still seemed like a long shot. LSU did win that day in one of the most exciting games in LSU history. Flynn-to-Byrd is etched in the minds of Tiger faithful forever.

Now fast forward to about a year later; last night, and you had an even more overwhelming situation. LSU was down 14-3 at the half, at Auburn, with inexperienced Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch taking turns at quarterback. To top off this daunting task the starting quarterback, Andrew Hatch, went out of the game with a head injury in the third quarter.

With Hatch out for the game early in the third quarter, Lee was thrown back under center. In the first half Lee threw 5 passes, all were incomplete, including one that lead to a costly, six Auburn points.

Was LSU's back against the wall? You bet. Was Auburn one score away from putting this game away? For sure. Did seeing Hatch go out injured then replaced by Lee scare the bajezuz out of many LSU fans? Of course.

This was not an ordinary victory for LSU. Yes, you could say this was essentially the same group of men who lead countless come from behind victories last year, but still one main difference sticks out: Jarrett Lee.

A 19-year old redshirt freshman from Texas was supposed to lead the Tigers to victory? Les Miles believed and so did offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

In one quarter LSU transformed a 14-3 deficit into a 17-14 lead. Behind play calling that had one of the best defenses guessing play after play, LSU switched from a first half team that was a deer-in-headlights to the swaggering, SEC juggernaut that we have all come to know.

Lee's first touchdown to Chris Mitchell for 39 yards gave LSU players one thing: hope.

The second touchdown, Keiland Williams's half-back pass to Demetrius Byrd gave the LSU players another thing: their swagger.

And finally, LSU's winning touchdown, a short screen pass from Lee to Brandon LaFell, gave the LSU team their biggest missing ingredient: confidence.

There are various reasons as to why LSU came out on top last night at Jordan-Hare stadium. Too many to count, too many to state. But the main one, the one everyone saw is Jarrett Lee.

On September 20, 2008, Jarrett Lee transformed from a quarterback prodigy to a starting SEC quarterback.

Welcome to manhood Lee.

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