LSU fans remember it like it was yesterday, although they certainly wish that wasn't the case.
The perfect season in-the-making came to a sudden halt after an embarrassing 21-0 shutout loss to Alabama in this past year's BCS Championship Game. The blame spread from players, to coaches to just about everything else in between. But what that game really came down to was the Tigers inability to move the ball on the offensive end, and nothing more beyond that.
Some fans blamed the poor play calling, saying the Tigers' offensive game plan was poorly drawn up against Alabama's suffocating defense. But regardless if LSU had chosen to pass more, run more or try any other type of trick plays on the offensive end, it really didn't matter.
The bottom line was that LSU couldn't move the ball on offense because they simply didn't have a quarterback who was talented enough to do so.
At least, not against a defense like Alabama's.
The Tigers didn't win 12 games and an SEC Championship last season because of their offense. They won 12 games last season because of a dominant defense and a capable offense, that was able to rely on a grind-it-out, run-first style, which simply wasn't going to cut it against a defense that featured three first-round draft picks and six total players selected in this year's NFL Draft.
So what will Les Miles and his coaching staff do in order to make sure that this offense is improved in 2012?
Well, for starters, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are both gone, which many LSU fans will look at with a sigh of relief.
In steps new LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is known for his big arm and his ability to air it out in the passing game. But with Mettenberger now behind center, will that really change the offensive philosophy of Miles and the LSU coaching staff heading into this season?
It sure sounds like it.
Miles was very vocal throughout this year's spring practices that he plans to throw more this season with Mettenberger at quarterback. With a bevy of talented wide receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., Russell Shepard, Jarvis Landry and James Wright, there shouldn't be any doubt that this team has the talent to air it out more in 2012.
Another reason why this team should be more successful in the passing game this season is because their opponents will have to respect and pay extra attention to the Tigers running game, which should set up the pass. With four outstanding backs—all of which could start for just about any other team in college football—teams are going to have to focus on stopping the run.
But the question will remain: How will Mettenberger handle his first year as a starter? And when he makes mistakes, will Miles go right back to solely relying on his running game, or will he let his quarterback continue to air it out, unlike he has done in the past?
Make no mistake about it, this LSU team has the making of a National Championship contender.
With a dominant defense and a powerful running game, they should role throughout non-conference play and into the SEC season. But if this team wants to take that next step and complete what they came so close to doing last season, there will be one thing they will have to do better than last season, and that is passing the football.
Now the question remains—will Les Miles' trust his new quarterback to do so.
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