LSU Tigers Football: Quarterback Quandary?

Dustin HopkinsContributor IJune 3, 2011

LSU Tigers Football: Quarterback Quandary?

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers runs on to the field during pregame before playing the  Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chr
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    If you’re an LSU Tiger, you’ve got to be excited about the upcoming season—and for good reason.

    Once again, LSU is widely considered a legitimate national title contender. There are 17 returning offensive & defensive starters on a team that boasts talent and depth at nearly every position.

    The offense will get a new lease on life under new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe. Not surprisingly, “The Hat” was able to reel in a top-flight recruiting class highlighted by potential starter and five-star DT Anthony Johnson.

    And, it all starts September 3rd with a marquee matchup against the fellow national title contender Oregon Ducks at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

    Everything is good in the land of the LSU Tigers….or is it?

    Amid all of the excitement and optimism, there’s something that concerns many among LSU's fanbase and some college football pundits: the quarterback position.

    Despite the return of experienced senior QB Jordan Jefferson, many believe the position is up for grabs because of Jefferson’s inconsistency and the addition of talented JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger.

    This article examines LSU’s QB situation with an overview of the potential signal callers.

Jordan Jefferson

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    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Jordan Jefferson #9 of the LSU Tigers lobbies for a late hit after being hit by Navorro Bowman #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2010 Capital One Bowl at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2010 in Orlando,
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Jefferson’s body of work since taking over as starter late into his freshman year has been pedestrian at best.

    While he’s never had what could be considered a great performance, he’s shown on occasion that he’s capable of managing the offense while making accurate throws and picking up crucial first downs with his running ability.

    Most criticism of Jefferson stems from fourth quarter finishes against Ole Miss and Tennessee in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In each of these contests, LSU’s clock management came under fire. Some criticized Head Coach Les Miles and since-departed offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, while others blamed Jefferson for not having a command of the offense.

    Jordan’s best year came as a sophomore in 2009 when he completed a very respectable 61.5 percent of his passes on 296 passing attempts with 17 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

    In 2010, Jefferson’s stats were not quite as respectable as he threw for seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 209 attempts. It’s worth noting that he did bolster LSU’s offensive production with seven rushing touchdowns.

    Jordan Jefferson will enter the season as the starter. With the new offense under Steve Kragthorpe, he’ll have an opportunity to close out his career by leading LSU to a successful season. And, perhaps along the way, Jefferson will prove that he was not to blame for the inept offense during the two previous seasons. Time will tell.

Jarret Lee

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 22:  Quarterback Jarrett Lee #12 of the Louisiana State University Tigers lies on the ground after suffering an injury while playing the Ole Miss Rebels on November 22, 2008 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lee did no
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Among LSU faithful, Jarrett Lee is well-known for his ability to throw the football...to the opposing defense. In fact, if not for numerous pick-sixes in 2008, Jefferson may not have become the starting QB.

    In 2008, Lee started the season following LSU’s national title run under QB Matt Flynn. Expectations were high and he initially showed promise in early performances. However, as the season wore on, that promise turned into 16 interceptions in only 269 passing attempts.

    During the 2009 & 2010 seasons, Lee served as Jefferson’s backup. At times, he’s stepped in for Jefferson in limited situations and performed well. He completed over 60 percent of his 89 passing attempts this past season.

    While Jarrett Lee will be an experienced senior, it’s unlikely he’ll see much action with the return of Jefferson and the arrival of JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger.

Zach Mettenberger

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28:  Backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger #5 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Despite the return of an experienced SEC quarterback in Jordan Jefferson, many believe touted JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger will become the starting quarterback at some point during the upcoming season.

    His story is well-chronicled. After being dismissed by the Georgia Bulldogs for an arrest after his freshman season, Mettenberger enrolled at Butler Community College in Kansas.

    During his only season at Butler, he put up impressive numbers and began receiving offers from many top-notch BCS programs. Ultimately, he decided to sign with LSU and enrolled for the spring semester.

    During spring practices, Zach got a lot of work and repetitions under Offensive Coordinator Kragthorpe. On the hoof, he clearly has the makings of an All-SEC quarterback. At 6’5” and 240 lbs., he displayed a powerful arm with touch and good mobility for his size.

    While it may be too early to speculate, don’t be surprised if Zach Mettenberger becomes LSU’s starting QB at some point during the 2011 season.

    Of course, it may not happen. But if Jefferson fails to improve, you can bet the pressure on Head Coach Les Miles to make a change will be immense.