Three weeks ago, LSU’s offense essentially resembled the same unit that had taken the field under Les Miles since 2009. That is, a strong rushing attack with a passing game who’s calling card was its ability to ruin a sound offensive gameplan. Zach Mettenberger’s quarterback rating in the month of October was 85.01 and he averaged 134 passing yards a game, while throwing a single touchdown against two interceptions. To put it in perspective, the two-headed disaster that was Jordan Jefferson & Jarrett Lee had not even put up such horrible numbers during their tenure as Tiger quarterbacks.*
*I’m totally lying. They were awful.
The past two weeks, though, have shown an entirely different side to the LSU offense as it has totally come into itself and shown the true capabilities of an offense with a quarterback trusted by the coaching staff.
Les Miles has not trusted a quarterback with the game in his hands since Matt Flynn took his abilities to the National Football League. Well, that’s not entirely true. He trusted a redshirt freshman and then watched him throw seven pick-six’s in a single season. He’s been scarred ever since.
Since Mettenberger’s 11/29, 97 yard effort at Texas A&M, he’s reeled off two performances not seen from an LSU quarterback since 2007. Against Alabama, Mettenberger tossed for 298 yards and followed it up by throwing for 274 yards against Mississippi State this past week. That’s two top-tier pass defenses that LSU has made look very, very average.
Miles and the offensive coaching staff never wavered in their trust of Mettenberger, as they’ve consistently let him throw all season even when he was struggling. It’s easy to see why now, with Mettenberger in a groove and showing why he was so highly thought of coming out of spring practice.
With two games to go, if Mettenberger comes close to his output the past two weeks he’ll throw for more yardage than any LSU quarterback has since 2006, JaMarcus Russell’s phenomenal season that led him to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. More importantly, Mettenberger’s pace matches Russell’s 2005 season. Not saying Mettenberger is going to morph into the top overall draft pick next season, but it certainly shows his potential.
Tiger Stadium has played an important part in Mettenberger’s development as he’s been a completely different quarterback at home. His quarterback rating, yards per attempt, yards per game, touchdowns & completion percentage are significantly higher at home than it is on the road, owing to the lift a home crowd can give you. Getting comfortable on the road is Mettenberger’s last great hurdle in his development. He’ll have one more chance in Little Rock against Arkansas to improve his road play, but Memorial Stadium has a history of treating solid Tiger teams badly.
Even if Mettenberger doesn’t perform as well as he has at home the past couple weeks at Arkansas, his progress this season has materialized & finally gives LSU the passing game it thought it would have 3 months ago. With two games left, all LSU has to do is play like the team it has been these past few weeks behind the play of Mettenberger and the possibility of a BCS bowl berth awaits.