LSU Football: Did the Real Zach Mettenberger Show Up Against Alabama?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 6, 2012

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB Zach MettenbergerDerick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

For the first two months of the season, the version of Zach Mettenberger that was supposed to transform the LSU offense from ultra-conservative to an outright aerial assault was more myth than reality.

Then the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide rolled into town, and Mettenberger finally woke up.

Talk about great timing.

Mettenberger's 298-yard, one-touchdown performance was his best passing day of his career, and he did it against the nation's eighth-best passing defense.

So did the light finally come on for Mettenberger, or was Saturday the exception to the rule?

Playing the way that Mettenberger played against Alabama clearly indicates that the light came on, and it came on between his ears.

Head coach Les Miles did a disservice to his team in September when he didn't let Mettenberger stretch the field and get comfortable in its first three out-of-conference games. In those games against North Texas, Washington and Idaho, LSU called 137 rushing plays and only 68 passing plays.

Mettenberger's lack of comfort in the pocket clearly showed in Week 4 against Auburn, in LSU's 12-10 win on the Plains. By that time, it was too late to get him comfortable.

Whatever Miles told Mettenberger in the two weeks prior to playing Alabama, it worked. The junior signal-caller made smart decisions against the Tide, checked down when appropriate and made several NFL-caliber throws—the kind of throws that we had all heard about for months.

Can that continue?

If LSU wants a Capital One Bowl or Cotton Bowl bid, it better.

Mississippi State will roll into Baton Rouge this weekend with Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay in tow—both of whom are tied for the SEC lead with four picks on the season. If Mettenberger is the type of quarterback who's going to play up or down to his competition, he had better be on his A-game. The Bulldogs may not have the statistics or the hype that Alabama does, but they certainly have a secondary capable of giving Mettenberger fits.

The jury is still out on Mettenberger, but if he repeats the feat against the Bulldogs on Saturday, consider the light to be "on."