LSU vs. Florida: Zach Mettenberger Must Shine for Tigers to Win Huge SEC Clash

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2012

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers yells to his offense against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Zach Mettenberger passed his first road test as LSU's starting quarterback two weeks ago against Auburn, but the bar will be raised once again as he leads the Tigers into the Swamp to face Florida in a battle of Top 10 teams.

The junior hardly impressed in the victory over Auburn, completing just 15 of his 27 passes for 169 yards and no touchdowns. He did protect the football, however, and that's all the Tigers needed from him to emerge victorious.

That won't be the case against Florida. LSU will need Mettenberger to have a far more complete performance if it wants to remain unbeaten and potentially move back up the rankings after a recent slide down to No. 4.

The Georgia native is having a good season overall. He has completed 66 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions to help lead the Tigers to five straight wins to open the season, although they all haven't been in convincing fashion.

With the schedule about to get a lot tougher starting with the Gators on Saturday, the pressure is on Mettenberger to elevate his game. His success will have a major impact on how much the Tigers are able to accomplish this season.

LSU is a run-first team. That's not going to change. But as the defenses it faces start to get better in the likes of Florida, South Carolina and eventually top-ranked rival Alabama, a one-dimensional offense won't be enough to get the job done.

Mettenberger must come up with key completions on play-action throws, third downs and, most importantly, in the red zone. Otherwise, teams like Florida are going to stack the box, bottle up LSU's rushing attack and end LSU's undefeated dreams.

While the Tigers' field general is certainly capable of providing the necessary balance, he has never been in a situation like he will be on Saturday. Going into one of the most raucous stadiums in the country to face the nation's 10th-ranked defense is a tough task for any quarterback.

That's especially true for a QB like Mettenberger, who will be facing an environment that will be as crazy as anything he sees during his football career. It's going to be SEC football at its finest.

Tiger fans should be confident Kenny Hilliard and the running game will hold up its end of the bargain against Florida, as will the team's reliable defense. Mettenberger enters the clash as less of a guarantee.

As long as he handles the pressure well, LSU will survive its toughest game to date and head into next week's game against South Carolina with an amazing amount of momentum.