LSU Football: How Zach Mettenberger Is Finally Living Up to the Hype

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent INovember 7, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 03:  LSU Quarterback Zach Mettenberger #8 looks for an open receiver while playing Alabama at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The definition of being a bust: to collapse from the strain of making a supreme effort.

What a strong word to associate with a kid trying to break in as the starting quarterback at one of the top college football programs in the country. And for those who know Zach Mettenberger, that's exactly what he is: a kid. A 6'5", 222-pound kid from Watkinsville, GA, getting his first splash of what life is like as a starting quarterback in the SEC.

How can someone be considered a bust after just nine games, when his team is 7-2 and ranked No. 9 in the nation?

Mettenberger heard it early on this season, when he was having trouble with turnovers and had yet to complete 20 or more passes or throw for more than 250 yards in a single game. That's largely what this season had been like for the Tigers' junior quarterback.

That all changed Saturday evening when Mettenberger had by far his best game as LSU's starting quarterback.

The talented signal-caller, who had built up plenty of critics throughout the first half of the season, completed 24 of 35 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 21-17 loss to SEC foe Alabama.

What's more important is that Mettenberger didn't turn the ball over in the loss. He completed 69 percent of his passes and finished the game with a 149.5 quarterback ranking.

Of course, let's not forget that this all came against Alabama's daunted defense, which is considered by all to be the top defensive unit in the country.


LSU fans may wonder why it took Mettenberger this long finally live up to the hype that was surrounding him heading into this year's college football season.

But then again, maybe hype was the problem.

LSU, traditionally known as a run-first offense, graduated both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee last season, two quarterbacks who were under constant scrutiny throughout their entire collegiate careers.

In came Mettenberger, a true pro-style quarterback with a live arm and swag about him that had been missing from QBs in Baton Rouge for some time. LSU head coach Les Miles came out and said that with Mettenberger under center the Tigers would be looking to air it out a lot more this season.

But after three convincing wins to start the season, the junior quarterback struggled once SEC play started. Fans worried that Mettenberger was never going to have that one breakout game in which everything just clicked for him.

While the loss to Alabama certainly wasn't ideal, Mettenberger's play has to be reassuring to LSU fans looking for a quarterback capable of putting up big numbers against an elite college defense.

The Tigers will close out the season against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas—three games they should win. With a 10-2 record in the SEC, a BCS bowl game could very much still be in play with a strong finish to close out the season.

But more than anything,  Les Miles and the Tigers have a quarterback in whom fans can now feel confident going forward.

Before you tag the "B" word to Zach Mettenberger, take a look at this past game and how he performed under pressure against the top defense in the nation.

It seems more appropriate not to look at Mettenberger for how much he has shrunk but instead for how much he has evolved.