MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Jarrett Lee threw 21 touchdown passes during his freshman season at LSU.
Seven of them happened to go to the wrong team.
Lee threw 16 interceptions in 2008 - the sixth-highest total in the country - and seven were returned for touchdowns. It may have gotten worse had an ankle injury in the 11th game not knocked him out for the rest of the season and opened the door for Jordan Jefferson.
Jefferson started all but one game the next two seasons with Lee coming in periodically to fix a problem. This year, Lee has started all three games for the second-ranked Tigers (3-0).
He'll start again in Saturday's 8 p.m. nationally televised game (ABC) at Mountaineer Field against a 16th-ranked West Virginia team (3-0) that had three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown last week against Maryland.
Jefferson is indefinitely suspended for his alleged involvement in a fight last month. Lee is 40-for-59 for 444 yards, three touchdowns and one interception this season.
"I think very much that the success of our team to this point is due to the fact of how strong our quarterback stepped right in and played," Coach Les Miles said.
Lee was 1-for-1 for 5 yards in last season's game against the Mountaineers. He played one possession late during a victory in which Jefferson struggled. He was 10-for-22 with two interceptions.
Lee, a 6-foot-2 fifth-year senior, was 420-for-614 for 5,819 yards and 68 touchdowns during his final two years of high school football in Brenham, Texas. He was among the top prep QBs in the nation and recruited by most of the big schools, including Texas Tech, where WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen was the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.
Holgorsen knew the West Texas area and knew Lee's father, Stephen, who was an assistant coach at the high school. Holgorsen got to know Lee when was growing up and looked at the quarterback as next in line with Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Case Keenum (Houston), Kirby Freeman (Miami) and Jevan Snead (Texas/Ole Miss) to come from that area.
"He's in the same mold as those guys," Holgorsen said. "Things didn't work out for him as well as they would have liked early in his career, but based on what kind of kid he is, based on his upbringing, he hung in there and it's good to see him get a chance and take advantage of it."