Outback Bowl 2014: LSU's Offense Is a Work-in-Progress Without Zach Mettenberger

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 1, 2014

LSU QB Anthony Jennings
LSU QB Anthony JenningsAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Outback Bowl between LSU and Iowa wasn't pretty.

At times, in fact, it was downright ugly.

The Tigers and Hawkeyes got into an old-fashioned slugfest at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, as Jeremy Hill rushed 28 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the 21-14 win over Iowa.

As ESPN's official Twitter account pointed out, Hill was impossible to take down.

Jeremy Hill is certified battering ram. #OutbackBowl

— ESPN (@espn) January 1, 2014

LSU head coach Les Miles was lucky Hill was there because the rest of the offense was left somewhere else on Florida's west coast.

Aside from Hill's work on the ground, the Tigers gained just 86 yards on the Hawkeyes.

LSU RB Jeremy Hill
LSU RB Jeremy HillKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In his first start at quarterback, freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings completed just 7-of-19 passes for 82 yards, zero touchdowns and one pick.

"I think he did, for a first start...well done," Miles said on ESPN's broadcast after the game. "[He] managed it to a point. He did some things that we'll not have him do, but it was a nice start and we'll see where we go from here."

LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les MilesKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There's a long way to go from here.

Hill is three years removed from high school, and thus, eligible for the NFL draft. If he goes pro—and after that performance against the Big Ten's fourth-best rush defense (120.75 YPG), he should—LSU's offense may undergo a complete overhaul in Cam Cameron's second season as offensive coordinator.

In addition to Hill, LSU will likely lose running back Alfred Blue, and could lose junior wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry early to the NFL draft as well. This, in addition to the departure of seniors Zach Mettenberger at quarterback and J.C. Copeland at fullback.

The cupboard isn't bare in Baton Rouge by any means, but it appears that the Tigers will have to hit the reset button on offense this offseason.

That's not to say all is lost. 

Jennings was making his first career start against the Hawkeyes, and a full offseason of work will certainly help him progress. It also will allow Cameron time to tweak his scheme to fit the duality that Jennings brings to the table.

LSU's dramatic turnaround on offense was one of the most surprising storylines of the 2013 season.

If several of its stars move on, its ability to keep the ship headed in the right direction will be one to watch early in the 2014 season.