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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jarrett Lee will start

BATON ROUGE - Les Miles is coming off perhaps his greatest victory as LSU's coach - considering the degree of difficulty - so let him have his fun. Auburn was a top 10 team when it lost to LSU, is still a top 10 team in my AP poll because it lost to a team ranked higher than it and could end up as a top 10 team in all polls when this season is over. Auburn is better than Ohio State was in the national championship game last season and it is better than Tennessee was in the SEC championship game last season. It should also be better than the 2007 Florida team, which was ripped by Michigan 41-35. Those were Miles' three previous huge victories. Of those, Auburn was the only road win.

So, let him have his fun. Miles loves to play games with his opponent and the media, which is why he will not name a starting quarterback going into Saturday's game against Mississippi State in Tiger Stadium. At some point today, he will tell Jarett Lee that he is starting if he hasn't already. Andrew Hatch could still play if he is recovered from the mild concussion and strained neck he suffered at Auburn. Look for true freshman Jordan Jefferson to also see significant playing time.

Miles has to start Lee because Lee deserves it after the game he played at Auburn. Miles also has to start Lee because he would look like a fool if he doesn't. It's not like Lee and Hatch had similar games. Lee was 11 of 22 for 182 yards with a 39-yard touchdown pass and the 18-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 1:03 to play. He also helped lead LSU to another touchdown and a field goal. Hatch rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries and led LSU to a field goal, but he was just 2 of 6 passing for 16 yards. Hatch also obviously cannot throw the ball downfield as well as Lee can. Lee has a much stronger arm. Sometimes that helps, even if you're not completely sure of what else you're doing, which was the case at times with Lee at Auburn. He looked very unsure of himself just before he let go of the 39-yard touchdown pass, but it found Chris Mitchell to get LSU within 14-10 in the third quarter. And the game was on again.

Miles has been dropping hints that he will start Lee since Saturday night.

"Obviously, football is merit based, and he had a helluva game," Miles said of Lee after the game.

Miles made a similar statement on the Jim Rome national radio show on Tueslday.

"Football is merit based, an I think Jarrett Lee warrants an opportunity to play a lot of football Saturday," Miles said.

When asked last week if Charles Alexander would start at defensive tackle, Miles would not answer directly. But he did say Alexander would "play a lot of football Saturday." Alexander started.

Miles also dismissed the philosophy held by some coaches that a starter automatically gets his job back once he's healthy. Former LSU coach Gerry DiNardo believed in this silly, Boy Scout theory.

"I think the responsibility is to pick the best player," Miles said. He should have said, "Duh" to the idiotic question.

"The best player who gives you the best opportunity for victory will play," Miles said. "That's how I expect we'll go irrespective of injury."

Well said, Les, who I'm sure does not do other high schoolish things like play guys because they're seniors when a freshman is better.

Now about those numbers on the punters. Well, wait, you are 37-6 at LSU. Go ahead and have your fun.


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