Fifty percent passing from a quarterback usually translates to an average performance at best.
But the glass was certainly half full for LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger on Saturday night. Mettenberger was a maestro, despite what the stat sheet shows.
LSU defeated TCU 37-27 in a typical season opener. The game featured fumbles, penalties and sloppiness.
But Mettenberger was in midseason form. The senior quarterback was 16-of-32 for 251 yards and one touchdown. He threw no interceptions and was in complete harmony with his receivers.
Mettenberger’s two main targets from last season started their 2013 campaign with a bang. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry each had 100-yard games, with Landry scoring the last touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
LSU’s offensive line was superb in pass protection. Only two sacks were allowed, both on perfectly timed blitzes from defensive backs. TCU desperately missed suspended defensive end Devonte Fields.
But Mettenberger’s biggest aid did not even play a down. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron had a magnificent game plan, yet the biggest contribution was what he did with his quarterback in the offseason.
Cameron’s NFL background certainly helped Mettenberger tone his skills in every mechanical department. His footwork was more fluid, and he threw the ball where only his receiver could catch it.
There was no better example of Mettenberger's memorable performance than his throws late in the fourth quarter. His prolific accuracy was indefensible despite excellent coverage from the Horned Frogs’ secondary.
Landry’s touchdown was thrown to his back hip to prevent safety Sam Carter from breaking up the slant route. On the next drive on 3rd-and-5, Mettenberger delivered a back-shoulder, 28-yard completion to Beckham Jr., despite great coverage from TCU's star corner Kevin White.
LSU went 13-of-19 on third-down conversions. Mettenberger converted eight of them in the air and one on the ground.
Usually the run sets up the pass for the LSU offense. However, the pass set up the run on Saturday.
LSU ran for over 197 yards on 48 attempts. Yet the Tigers could not get anything going on basic running plays between the tackles. It did not help that the rushing attack was without the aid of running back Jeremy Hill.
Most of LSU's rushing yards came out of shotgun or on draw plays. The TCU defense had to respect Mettenberger's ability to throw the football to any spot on the field, making the draw effective for the Tigers.
Mettenberger would have been over 50 percent in passing had it not been for a few drops, two of which would have resulted in touchdowns. Nonetheless, Saturday was his most dominant performance against an elite TCU secondary.