There is an unhealthy relationship in Baton Rouge, and it isn’t between two people. Instead, it's between a football team and its junior starting quarterback, Zach Mettenberger.
At least in relationships one person can break up with the other person. However, if the LSU Tigers would separate Mettenberger from the starting role, then the alternative, redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers, would be even worse.
Before Saturday’s collapse against Florida, Mettenberger was a competent quarterback.
Among SEC quarterbacks, Mettenberger was in the top five of the quarterback ratings with a 105.5 rating and passing yards with 1,016. Plus, Mettenberger ranked in the top 10 in passing touchdowns with six.
Mettenberger was exactly what LSU fans were accustomed to in recent years from its quarterback. All that Mettenberger had to do was make timely throws, while the rushing attack would do all of the scoring.
During LSU’s 5-0 start, they dominated the line of scrimmage as the rushing game led the offense.
However, in those five games, the only time the passing game outgained the rushing attack was during last week’s 38-22 victory over Towson. The reason behind that may have been because they wanted to get Mettenberger on a roll before the big game against Florida, or because he had such a shaky game the previous week against Auburn.
Either way, the keys to the LSU offense were handed over to Mettenberger to see if the worst-case scenario happened, where the Tigers' running game was taken away from them if he could carry the team.
And, as you saw Saturday against Florida, Mettenberger failed in a big way.
His final stat line of 11-of-25, 158 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception with a quarterback rating of 89.1 was his worst performance of the season.
When a defense—like Florida did Saturday and Alabama did in the BCS Championship Game—takes away LSU’s rushing game, the Tigers become a one-dimensional team that cannot move the ball.
And when you cannot move the ball, you do not score points.
Saturday’s game isn’t anything new or shocking. In fact, Saturday’s result against Florida should have been what Tigers fans were expecting.
Mettenberger will not take this Tigers team back to the BCS Championship Game. In fact, he won’t even take them back to the SEC Championship Game.
However, look at who is behind him. It’s clear to see that Coach Miles and the Tigers have no option but to stay with him.
For better or worse till the 2012 season departs, this LSU team is stuck with Mettenberger.