By jove I think it is! Last year, we were promised a savior. A Mettensavior. A Mettsiah. OK, maybe that's too much, but that's essentially how Zach Mettenberger was received last year. After fumbling through most of the season last year, getting hot, then going ice cold in the bowl game, we realized the problem might be in the booth, not on the field. Enter Cam Cameron and the LSU passing game, led by Mettenberger, has not been the same since. More past the jump.
LSU currently has the third-rated passing offense in the SEC after two games. At first blush, third isn't special. It's third. You get a ribbon. A cheap medal. But the two teams in front of LSU and Mettenberger are Georgia and Texas A&M, they of the presumptive best pro-style QB in the conference Aaron Murray and only the last guy to win the Heisman Trophy at A&M. Zach is in elite company.
It's almost a total waste of time to look at statistics just two games into a season because the results can vary so wildly. A&M hasn't played anyone with the faintest semblance of a pulse, while Georgia has had to play two top-10 teams. This is comparing apples to a steak.
In our case, though, it is somewhat pertinent because this is the best two-week start by an LSU quarterback…ever. He's completing 62.7% of his passes, has thrown for 533 (!) in two games, and just recently set the LSU record for passing touchdowns in a game with 5 against UAB.
It's clear to see his progression. Cam Cameron has come in and while not changing the offense, but has refined it and built a vertical passing game out of it. While LSU is still running the same plays they had in the playbook before, they're not as predictable running them and they throw the ball down the field.
Cameron's influence has not only been felt in the playcalling, but mechanically in Mettenberger. He's lighter on his feet. He has a feel for the pocket & for the rush. His deep ball has improved. He may be a statue, but he knows when he can run and get a couple yards for a first down (He has a positive per rush average, including sacks.). He's just playing smarter due to Cameron's tutelage in just a few months.
While LSU is averaging 450 yards per game through the first two, it's not without it's possible issues. While the pass isn't setting up the run, the running game hasn't exactly been itself the first two games. Jeremy Hill came in during the UAB game and showed he was clearly a cut above any other running back on the depth chart because up to that point, no one had exactly lit it on fire. Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard, & Terrance Magee have had their moments but none of them have shown the ability of Hill. If there's one thing LSU has been able to count on, though, it's the running game so it's expected this will sort itself out, but until then, it's somewhat concerning with conference play just two weeks away.
Odell Beckham Jr. has had the best two weeks of any receiver since Josh Reed was roaming Tiger Stadium, but outside of himself and Jarvis Landry there hasn't been another go-to target for Mettenberger. While those two are so far looking like the best WR tandem in the conference, it would be nice to have another target at WR plus a TE that Mettenberger could rely on so defenses can't key in on two primary targets.
The good thing is, it's a lot of fun to talk about these deficiencies rather than talking about how to get the LSU QB to throw for more than 150 yards in a game and not turn it over. These problems are good problems.
Bottom line is this could be the best offense we've seen since 2007 (it's already well on it's way). If the LSU defense improves as the year goes on, as it's expected to, the Tigers could find themselves right in the thick of things. This is going to be fun.