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Training wheels coming off for LSU's quarterbacks

9/19/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

To use the old bike-riding analogy, LSU's quarterbacks have been bopping around on their driveway to this point, training wheels still very much attached and the terrain as flat and nonthreatening as it gets.

But on Saturday, Andrew Hatch, Jarrett Lee and maybe even Jordan Jefferson will be graduating to the Tour de France, at least the football version.

Hatch and Lee have been asked to do very little in LSU's first two games, blowout wins over Appalachian State and North Texas. They didn't need to. They got the ball to their playmakers and let them do the work.

They also faced very little pressure. The Tigers have given up just one sack in the first two games.

That all changes Saturday when LSU takes on an Auburn team that plays defense the same way they do down on the Bayou.

"There's going to be a lot of things going on, probably a lot of hat-popping and probably helmets flying," Auburn defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Everything just moves faster than maybe what's going on in a regular game."

Hatch, LSU's starter, said nothing changes for him.

"I don't really feel a lot of pressure," said Hatch, a transfer from Harvard who's 17-of-31 for 202 yards, with a touchdown and an interception in his first two games. "I mean, I'm having fun. The pressure comes from the great success LSU has had, so that's good.

"It is like 'The Game' at Harvard versus Yale. It seems like every week is 'The Game' here, though."

LSU coach Les Miles said he plans to play both Hatch and Lee against Auburn, which has allowed only three third-down conversions in 46 attempts this season. Miles said he also wouldn't be surprised to see true freshman Jordan Jefferson play. Jefferson played a few snaps last week against North Texas and gives LSU more of a running threat.

However LSU divvies up the snaps, none of the three has ever taken a snap in a major college road game.

"We realize going into the game that this is much bigger than any other game we've had this year," Lee said. "And we realize if we play well against Auburn, then we'll play well against all the other SEC teams."