Ever since Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed prior to the 2008 season, the quarterback position has been a point of contention in Baton Rouge.
It doesn't appear to be anymore.
LSU head coach Les Miles was one of seven SEC coaches to go through the ESPN "car wash" on Monday, and one thing was apparent during Miles' visit with the Worldwide Leader—he's very comfortable with his quarterback.
When appearing across all of ESPN's platforms, Miles seemed to glow every time Mettenberger's name was brought up. It was brought up early and often.
This comes on the heels of SEC Media Days, where Miles was very confident in his quarterback this season.
"The things that he's done in leadership, the approach he's taken with this team has been very obvious," Miles said. "I think that he stays that way, as long as he improves, we'll like his play. You'll naturally get more throws and I think we'll get a little bit deeper ball thrown. I think there's an enjoyment with the idea that Zach can make that deep ball throw very comfortably."
That's the key.
Mettenberger doesn't have to be Joe Montana; he just has to look like him from time to time.
LSU's offense sputtered last season because there was no deep threat with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee taking the snaps. Fixing that was clearly a goal this offseason, and we saw that in LSU's spring game where Mettenberger completed 14-of-25 passes for 270 yards, two touchdown and two picks.
The 10.8 yards per attempt figure in the spring game is an indicator that Mettenberger's primary goal in 2012 will be to keep defenses honest. For perspective, that figure would have led Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) last season, ahead of Baylor's Robert Griffin III who averaged 10.7 yards per attempt.
More focus on the deep ball may mean more interceptions, but if those are on deep balls, at least it keeps the opposing defense honest.
Miles seems confident in Mettenberger, and his ability to stretch the field is the primary reason why.
He has the ability to be a star in the SEC, but developing the perception that he's a star may be all LSU needs to hoist the crystal football in January.