LSU Football: Making the Early 2012 Heisman Case for Zach Mettenberger

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJune 8, 2012

LSU Football: Making the Early 2012 Heisman Case for Zach Mettenberger

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    The winner of the 2012 Heisman Trophy is....Zach Mettenberger?


    Is it possible that a first year quarterback could really win the Heisman Trophy?

    Is it possible that a quarterback playing in a run-first offense could really win the Heisman Trophy?

    Well, let me rub my...Yep. It looks like I really am reading this correctly. Take note of this all you die-hard LSU football fans. Because this is what a true quarterback looks like.

    Of course, it is extremely bold to make this type of claim about a quarterback who has yet to take a meaningful snap in a Division 1 college football game. But those who have watched Mettenberger play before know darn well what this kid is capable of doing out on the football field.

    This kid has what it takes to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in 2012.

    Why do I say that?

    Let's find out right here, right now.

Arm Strength

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    When was the last time that LSU had a pro-style quarterback as their starter?

    To find that answer to that question, one would have to travel back to 2007 when Matt Flynn was the man behind center in Baton Rouge. Guess how that year concluded?

    That's right folks-- with a National Championship.

    LSU fans have had to suffer through the mediocre play of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee for the past four seasons, but fortunately, both of them are gone now, and in steps Mettenberger.

    This kid has a cannon for an arm and LSU coach Les Miles has come out and said that the Tigers plan to use that to their advantage in 2012.

    Although LSU returns a dominant rushing attack this season, don't be surprised to see this team air it out more and rely on Mettenberger's arm to win them several close football games.

    He is that good.

Experience Doesn't Matter

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    For those doubters who say that Zach Mettenberger has no chance of winning the Heisman Trophy because of his lack of experience, keep in mind that it has been done before.

    In fact, three of the past five Heisman Trophy winners won the prestigious award in just their sophomore seasons. Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Mark Ingram were all honored as Heisman Trophy winners with just one previous year of college experience, and Tebow and Ingram weren't even starters in their freshman seasons.

    The primary example of an inexperienced quarterback winning the prestigious award is Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy award in 2010 after putting together one of the greatest single seasons in college football history. This came in his first and only year as a starting quarterback at Auburn.

    The point here is that this has done before. The cards might not be in Mettenberger's favor right now, but that can all change very quickly.

    Especially if he leads LSU to a BCS Championship.

Focus on the Run

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    How do you focus in on stopping a quarterback when he has a backfield that combined to rush for more than 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2011?

    It's simple... You don't.

    This dominant LSU running game will demand a lot of attention from opposing defenses this season, which in return, will make life easier for Zach Mettenberger.

    Teams will be forced to bring up safeties at times in order to stop this running game, and Mettenberger has the skill to take advantage of that. When you put single coverage on a guy like Odell Beckham Jr., that is just asking to be beat on a deep throw.

    Mettenberger doesn't have a ton of playing experience at the Division 1 college level, but he certainly does have an understanding of how important having a dominant backfield is to his development.

The Spotlight

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    While we're on the topic here, let's be honest. The Heisman Trophy is about popularity and winning football games, just as much as it is about individual skill, right?

    Who was the last player to win the Heisman Trophy that played on a bad team?

    It just doesn't happen, which in this case, should help Zach Mettenberger's chances.

    LSU has all the pieces in place to be a great college football team in 2012. They have surrounded their first-year starting quarterback with a ton of talent, and anyone who follows LSU knows that this is a team always highlighted in the national spotlight.

    LSU also plays in the most glamorized conference in college football, the SEC. Because of that, Mettenberger will be in the spotlight and have his chance to shine in front of a national audience on several occasions.

Speed, Speed and More Speed

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    Some say that a first-year quarterback's best friend is his offensive line.

    Other's say that it is a tight end, wide receiver, or a great backfield.

    Well, I'm going to go ahead and say that a first-year quarterback's best friend is anyone that has exceptional speed, because that always makes his job that much easier. In LSU's case, Mettenberger is blessed to be surrounded with incredible speed across the football field.

    With Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Shepard lining up as receivers, and Alfred Blue and Michael Ford lining up in that backfield, the Tigers are loaded with speedsters on this offense.

    Going one-on-one with receivers like Beckham Jr, Shepard or even Jarvis Landry is a risk that opposing teams are going to have to take, and more often than not, Mettenberger will take advantage of that and capitalize on those risks.

    Sure it will be guys like Beckham Jr, Shepard and Landry who will be making the big-plays, but it all adds up to Mettenberger's gaudy numbers, which at the end of the day, should help cement his case for being a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.