LSU Football: Power Ranking the Best Individual Offensive Performances of 2013
The 2013 LSU Tigers were carried by the offense.
LSU surprised all pundits with its offensive prowess, finishing in the top half of the SEC in passing and rushing. First-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron turned out to be a spectacular addition to the coaching staff.
But as great as Cameron was, the Tigers also had experienced playmakers return to key skill positions. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. all played at a high-level throughout the season.
The explosive offense produced memorable individual performances. LSU needed them badly, as the Tigers were uncharacteristically porous on defense.
It is impossible to quantify which performance was the best, but it is worth a try. The only prerequisite was that the opponent must be a BCS-conference school.
Feel free to contact Carter Bryant on Twitter (@CarterthePower) with your thoughts on the list.
7) Offensive Line vs. Florida
Stats: 175 yards on 39 carries, 4.5 yards-per-carry; No sacks allowed
Key Plays: LSU's fourth quarter dominance on the ground, 76 yards on 10 carries
Left tackle La'el Collins, left guard Vadal Alexander, center Elliott Porter, right guard Trai Turner and right tackle Jerald Hawkins bludgeoned the mighty Florida Gators defensive front.
It is hard to pick out an excellent individual performance from an offensive line, especially the way the LSU front played against Florida. The unit was unselfish and cohesive. Everybody did their role.
The Tigers consistently pushed the Gators defensive line backwards. The final rushing statistics do not jump off the page, but running back Jeremy Hill struggled to break one of his patented long runs to boost the numbers. Hill was able to consistently gain positive yardage throughout the game thanks to large holes left for him to run through.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger failed to throw for over 200 yards for the first time all season, but Mettenberger threw the ball efficiently thanks to great pass protection. The Tigers' triumph over Texas A&M was the only other time in conference play that the LSU offensive line did not allow a sack.
6) Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Mississippi State
Stats: Nine catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns; 290 all-purpose yards
Key Plays: 27-yard reception on first play from scrimmage; 14-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter; 33-yard touchdown reception to start the fourth quarter
Odell Beckham Jr. had his fair share of explosive performances in 2013. Against UAB, Beckham Jr. scored three receiving touchdowns, caught a kickoff with one hand and almost returned a punt for a score to end the half. He tallied over 200 yards receiving against Furman.
But those teams were cupcakes.
Beckham Jr.'s best performance was his evisceration of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had no answer for his speed.
Beckham Jr. started the game with a difficult 27-yard reception in traffic on the first play from scrimmage. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw the ball high so Beckham Jr. would be the only player with a chance to snatch it. He rose over the defense to make the play.
Mettenberger had perfect timing and accuracy throughout the game, which gave Beckham Jr. plenty of wiggle room to shake defenders for massive gains. On the their final connection of the game, he caught the ball and curled around the defense for an easy 33-yard touchdown.
Beckham Jr. showed his elite quickness and wide catch radius against the Bulldogs. His diverse skill set is why Bleacher Report's Michael Felder named him the best receiver in college football.
5) Jeremy Hill vs. Auburn
Stats: 25 carries for 184 yards and three touchdowns
Key Plays: 49-yard touchdown run in the first quarter; 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter; 54-yard run in the second quarter
The Tigers won the game primarily because of Jeremy Hill's ability to produce explosive runs. If Hill did not power the Tigers to a 21-0 lead before halftime, the game would have ended much closer.
Hill scored on LSU's opening drive. He broke through the middle and side-stepped Auburn cornerback Jonathon Mincy in the secondary for a 49-yard touchdown.
Hill's 54-yard scamper in the second quarter did not result in a touchdown, but it was his most impressive of the night. After grasping the handoff, Hill recognized an open hole on the backside of the play. He then broke into the open field after jumping past an Auburn safety. He would be tackled right before scoring, but fullback J.C. Copeland would pound it in on the next play.
The performance proved how badly Miles needed Hill this season. He solidified himself as the workhorse running back, which led to an All-SEC season.
4) Zach Mettenberger vs. TCU
Stats: 16-of-32 for 251 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions
Key Plays: 8-yard completion to Travin Dural in the first quarter for third-down conversion, 20-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry in the fourth quarter, 26-yard completion to Odell Beckham Jr. in the fourth quarter for third-down conversion
Zach Mettenberger's first game of his senior campaign ended in a 37-27 victory over TCU. The statistics look average, but Mettenberger had to consistently make tough throws against a stingy Horned Frogs secondary.
Mettenberger won the game with his precision passing. He was without the aid of Jeremy Hill and a consistent rushing attack. LSU's box score would say the Tigers ran the ball effectively, but it was mainly because Mettenberger softened the defense through the air.
Mettenberger's most impressive throw of the game was his first throw of the season. Under immense pressure, he fired a tough pass into the arms of Travin Dural for a first down. The ball easily could have been intercepted, but instead the Tigers would eventually kick a field goal on the opening drive of the season.
Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were the biggest beneficiaries of their quarterback's stellar performance. The duo both eclipsed 100 yards receiving.
Landry scored his first touchdown thanks to a perfect back-hip pass from Mettenberger. The game was sealed when Mettenberger delivered a back-shoulder pass to Odell Beckham Jr. for a first down on LSU's final drive.
Mettenberger's receivers struggled to get open. They also dropped some catchable passes. But he continued to put the ball where only his receivers could catch it.
Mettenberger set the tone in the first game of the season for an unbelievable year through the air for LSU.
3) Jeremy Hill vs. Iowa
Stats: 28 carries for 216 yards and two touchdowns
Key Plays: 42-yard run on first play from scrimmage, 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, 28-yard run in the fourth quarter, 20-yard run in the fourth quarter, 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter
LSU was without starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the 2014 Outback Bowl against Iowa. True freshman Anthony Jennings stepped in to replace him.
Iowa could not stop Hill. On the first play from scrimmage, Hill broke free for a 42-yard run. Even on short gains, tackling Hill was like lassoing a bull.
Iowa clawed its way back in the game thanks to an interception from Jennings that set up an easy Hawkeyes touchdown. But late in the fourth quarter, Hill put together his most impressive series of the season.
The sophomore workhorse running back tallied three runs of 20 yards or more. Hill's last run was a 37-yard touchdown scamper where he powered past tired Iowa tacklers to give LSU a two-touchdown lead.
Hill's performance was the first time an LSU running back rushed for over 200 yards since 2004 per LSU Football's official Twitter account. He carried the Tigers to victory in what could have been Les Miles' third consecutive bowl loss.
2) Zach Mettenberger vs. Georgia
Stats: 23-of-37 for 372 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions
Key Plays: 48-yard touchdown pass to Kadron Boone in the first quarter, 39-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry in the third quarter, 3rd-and-22 conversion to Odell Beckham Jr. for 25 yards in the fourth quarter
No LSU player faced more pressure before any game than Zach Mettenberger heading into Georgia. All Mettenberger did in response was throw for a career-high in a losing effort against his former team.
Mettenberger battled Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray for the starting role in 2010, but was kicked off the team for violating team rules. The media attention grew before this season's classic when Mettenberger's mother, who works as a administration assistant for Georgia Athletics, was given the week off by head coach Mark Richt.
Despite the off-the-field distractions, Mettenberger came into Athens focused.
Mettenberger started the game blazing, throwing touchdown passes in his first two drives to his third-favorite option, Kadron Boone. He would continue to shred the Georgia secondary despite LSU's struggling running game.
The LSU offensive line did not show up to play. The Tigers only rushed for 77 yards and gave up four sacks. Mettenberger was consistently smacked by Georgia defenders.
Mettenberger's best came in the fourth quarter. LSU was down by three deep in its own territory. Facing a 3rd-and-22 after burning a timeout, Mettenberger fired a dart to Odell Beckham Jr. for a first down. The gun-slinger would later fire three straight completions on the drive for first downs. The Tigers would cap the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill.
LSU could not hold on to its 41-37 lead because of a porous defense and a clutch Murray. Mettenberger would get the ball back, but his pass protection would fail on the first play of LSU's final drive.
Mettenberger and Murray competed in a shootout that produced 85 points and 943 total yards. LSU would have been blown out of Athens if not for Mettenberger's arm.
Mettenberger made plays when his team needed him the most. The Tigers were 10-of-15 on third down, seven of which came through the air.
1) Jarvis Landry vs. Arkansas
Stats: Eight receptions for 113 yards
Key Plays: 17-yard reception in first quarter for third down conversion, 12-yard one-handed reception in third quarter for first down conversion, 32-yard one-handed reception in fourth quarter, called play for Anthony Jennings game-winning touchdown pass to Travin Dural
Of all the individual performances to make this list, Jarvis Landry's superb game against Arkansas is the least impressive statistically. In fact, it was not one of Landry's best box scores either.
Landry did not catch one of his 10 touchdown receptions on the season. He accumulated more receiving yards against Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn than he did against Arkansas.
But if it weren't for Landry, the Tigers would have probably lost to the Razorbacks in the last installment of the rivalry on Thanksgiving weekend, for the foreseeable future. He lead the Tigers to a thrilling 31-27 victory.
Landry's co-pilot in LSU's air raid this season has been fellow junior receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The two have complimented each other beautifully. But against Arkansas, Beckham Jr. had to leave the game in the first quarter due to previous nagging injuries.
Landry produced despite an injured Beckham Jr. On LSU's opening drive, he caught an early 17-yard pass for a third-down conversion. Running back Terrence Magee would eventually score a touchdown.
In the third quarter, Landry caught an inaccurate Mettenberger pass with one hand for another third-down conversion. Running back Jeremy Hill would run for a 52-yard touchdown on the next play.
If Landry had not made either of these conversions, these two touchdowns would not have happened.
Landry performed a feat of receiver wizardry in the fourth quarter when he snagged another one-handed catch for 32 yards. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger would get injured on the play, but thankfully LSU was already in field-goal range.
But Landry's best play of the game involved neither of his hands.
Backup quarterback Anthony Jennings lead the Tigers on a 99-yard touchdown drive to give LSU a 31-27 lead. Jennings threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural, who was open because of Landry.
Landry begged the LSU coaching staff to run “Tsunami Seam Six Seventy-Nine”, a play from former offensive coordinator Greg Studwara's playbook. Landry's route drew the safety and the corner towards him, which left an open Dural down the sideline for an easy score.
The play perfectly summed up Landry's game and career. He is a cerebral player who will do anything to help the team.
Arkansas' secondary was putrid this season, but that shouldn't take away from Landry's brilliant performance. It is difficult to take over a game as a possession receiver, but the Lutcher native did so with his mind as much as his hands.
Landry did not have Beckham Jr. or Mettenberger for the full four quarters. Yet he still played the best game of his career when LSU needed him the most.
Landry saved LSU head coach Les Miles from a gigantic amount of criticism. Miles' squad was a three-touchdown favorite over Arkansas, yet the struggling Razorbacks outplayed the Tigers in Death Valley. The message boards would have tarred and feathered Miles if he had lost, as it would have been the second time the Tigers lost as a touchdown favorite on the season.
Feel free to contact Carter Bryant on Twitter (@CarterthePower) with your thoughts on the list or comment below.
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