LSU QB Zach Mettenberger's Scrimmage Stats a Good Sign for Tigers

Barrett SalleeFeatured Columnist IVMarch 24, 2017

November 10, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA;  LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) against the Mississippi State Bulldogs prior to kickoff of a game at Tiger Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was supposed to be the cure to the Jordan Jefferson blues prior to last season.

The junior college transfer, who once battled Aaron Murray tooth and nail to become Georgia's starting quarterback prior to the 2010 season, had finally settled back into the SEC at LSU and was on the brink of breaking out.

Then the 2012 season happened—and like a broken record, the quarterback issues that have haunted Les Miles for the last five seasons dominated headlines yet again.

But it doesn't always have to be like this for LSU, and Mettenberger's performance in Saturday's scrimmage indicates that the rising senior signal-caller for the Tigers may have turned things around.

He completed 20 of 30 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage, according to stats released by the university.

“(Mettenberger) made a couple of intuitive throws today,” Miles said. “He saw things very quickly and got the ball out of his hand. Guys anticipated the catch and down the field it went. He looked good and 20-of-30 to start is really nice. Two series were against the second team but the rest of the day was against the first team defense.”

That's a far cry from his 2012 campaign, which saw the Watkinsville, Ga., native finish ninth in the SEC in passing (200.7 YPG) and 11th in completion percentage (58.8 percent). It seems that the curse associated with LSU's quarterback position rubbed off on him last season instead of the other way around.

Scrimmage stats are often overblown, but in Mettenberger's case, they're a sign that he's starting to figure things out. Or, better yet, continuing his education.

He finished last season with a solid stretch in November that saw him throw for more than 215 yards in each of LSU's four November games, including games against Alabama and Mississippi State.

A sign that he figured things out as the season went on? 

Maybe. But also a sign that he was getting help from his friends.

LSU's offensive line was a disaster early on (and it wasn't much better in the bowl game), but jelled down the stretch of the regular season. With four contributors returning from that squad, it will go a long way toward making Mettenberger comfortable in the pocket in 2013.

That's the key: comfort.

LSU seemed like it tried to hide Mettenberger early in 2012, but with TCU on the schedule in Week 1, it won't have that luxury this season. A stable offensive line, established running game and legitimate weapons returning at wide receiver should not only ease Mettenberger's transition to new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's offense, it should eliminate the hiccups altogether.

Just because Mettenberger's career as a starter hasn't gone according to plan doesn't mean that the plan has changed. Since the start of November, most signs point in the direction of him turning things around.

If he does, LSU's "rebuilding year" will be anything but a rebuilding year.