The biggest story in death valley, this spring, was if incoming sophomore, Zach Mettenberger, would be able to dethrone Jordan Jefferson as the starting quarterback for the 2011 season. Reports began to surface that while Mettenberger looked solid, Jefferson was a new man. He had a command of the offense, he was showing great leadership among the players, and he had now become the player LSU fans had long hoped for.
Then came the Spring game. Despite all the talk of improvement and player development on behalf of Jefferson, he was the same horrific player as he was last season. During the spring game, Jefferson completed only 4-of-14 passes with an interception, two fumbles and two sacks.
Mettenberger, on the other hand, completed 5-of-8 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. After the spring game, Coach Miles did not back down from his earlier praise and went on to say that Jefferson is the clear No. 1 going into the fall.
Les Miles has been called a lot of different things by a lot of different people. Some believe he is a coaching genius who loves to roll the dice and wins more than he loses—so much that he has been given the nickname, the “Mad Hatter.” Critics point to his lack of time management at the end of games and think he is a baboon that is merely sitting on a gold mine.
One thing that cannot be denied is that he has never been afraid of calling the unorthodox call. Look no further than last season in LSU's game against Alabama. It was 4th-and-1, and he decides to make, what perhaps is, the best call of the season.
Instead of the conventional wisdom to run the ball up the gut, he runs a perfectly timed and executed reverse to DeAngelo Peterson, which picks up 23 yards and would lead to the go-ahead touchdown.
With this in mind, we're are left questioning. Is the current quarterback situation another misdirection play by Miles? Is he really willing to risk this season on this pick? The reality is that if the Bayou Bengals want to win the national championship this season, Mettenberger must be their quarterback.
This decision will mean the difference in first and third-fourth in the SEC this season. The LSU defense will be solid this season, but they will need some offensive production from the quarterback position if they are going to have a legitimate shot at a championship this season.
LSU fans will argue that they were able to beat Alabama last season with Jefferson as their starting quarterback. However, while the Alabama team will be more vulnerable, as a whole, there defensive unit, if they can find a defensive tackle, will be a top five defense nationally. Moreover, if it had not been for one deep pass (75 yards) during that game, he would have only had 66 yards. That simply will not get it done this year in Tuscaloosa.
While no one truly knows what goes on in the mind of the “Mad Hatter,” I believe he is playing his cards close. Facing, perhaps, the No. 1 team in the nation for their opening game, he wants to keep Oregon's game plan minimized. If Mettenberger continues to develop, he will be the starter this season.
The Dr. predicts this is another Miles trick play.