Jeremy Hill Suspension: Pressure's on LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and Running Game
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The outlook for LSU's 2013 season took a bit of a turn over the weekend after star running back Jeremy Hill was arrested in Baton Rouge, La., and charged with simple battery.
According to the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate, Hill was arrested and charged with misdemeanor simple battery after a fight broke out at Reggie's Bar that left one victim unconscious. The Shreveport (La.) Times reports that Hill punched another man from behind in the side of the head and that Hill is "easily recognizable" in video of the incident. He was released on $500 bail.
Before the latest incident, he pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile in January 2012 and received a six-month suspended sentence and two years probation. Since he could be in violation of his probation if found guilty, that very much puts his future with the Tigers in doubt.
So what happens to the Tigers if Hill is not available once the season starts? That puts an enormous amount of pressure on junior Kenny Hilliard and senior Alfred Blue.
Hilliard burst on to the scene in 2011, when he rushed for 336 yards and eight touchdowns en route to All-Freshman honors from the SEC's coaches. He followed it up with 464 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, serving in a backup/short-yardage role to Blue and Hill.
He has the talent, but he's never consistently been a feature-back during his first two years on campus. That's not to say that he can't do it—after all, nobody knew about Hill until the middle of last season—but he's still somewhat unproven.
Blue, on the other hand, is not.
He emerged as the primary back in LSU's offense exiting fall camp last season and rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns before a season-ending knee injury versus Idaho in Week 3. The versatile 6'2", 220-pounder has the size to go between the tackles, but enough speed to be a weapon in space. But he is coming off of knee surgery, which should cause some concern for Tiger fans.
Junior Terrence Magee could also see more playing time in the future. He rushed for 74 yards in LSU's spring game, capping off an impressive spring camp. He probably can't be an every-down back, but he can certainly provide that necessary changeup when needed.
It isn't just the running backs who are feeling the pressure on the heels of Hill's arrest and suspension, though, it's also quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger shined this spring, completing 12 of his 19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns during LSU's spring game. That polished off a fantastic spring that saw the senior throw for a combined 41-of-65 for 447 yards and three touchdowns in LSU's first two scrimmages of the spring prior to the spring game, according to the university.
So far so good under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but without his workhorse behind him, more eyeballs will be on Mettenberger.
Should Jeremy Hill be allowed to return to the LSU Tigers
He should be able to handle it, though.
The Tigers return their top four wide receivers from a year ago, upgraded at offensive coordinator and should benefit from the confidence Mettenberger gained down the stretch last season.
How long will Hill's suspension last?
Former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson—who wasn't in violation of probation—was suspended for four games at the start of the 2011 season after a fight off-campus. A grand jury reduced charges to the exact same offense as Hill's in late September 2011, which caused Jefferson's suspension to be lifted, according to ESPN.com.
So four games max would be the obvious assumption, but considering Hill's previous legal history, it may not be up to LSU.
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