This is our last one. Fourteen teams in the SEC and a burning question for each. Today, we question LSU.
#1 – Is Zach Mettenberger LSU’s answer at quarterback?
Last year, the LSU Tigers finished 13-1, won the SEC championship and finished as the runner-up for the BCS title (as their team rings clearly indicate).
Along the way, LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson passed for over 2,000 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The duo also completed over 61% of their passes. You have to admit, those aren’t bad numbers.
Yet Tigers fans were happy to bid both farewell and are excited about trusting their future to Georgia transfer, Zach Mettenberger. Fans and pundits both agree that Mettenberger has better passing skills and a better upside than either Lee or Jefferson, but does it make sense for Mettenberger to fare better or have better numbers than Lee and Jefferson? Are Tiger fans nuts for expecting a title with a guy like Mettenberger at the helm?
It really doesn’t make sense, then I remind myself that the last three BCS champs each used a first-year starter at quarterback: Greg McElroy, 2009 Alabama; Cam Newton, 2010 Auburn; and AJ McCarron, 2011 Alabama.
Given the talent LSU has returning, it is certainly possible for the Tigers to make a title run with Mettenberger. LSU returns seven starters on offense and six on defense, and maybe more importantly, returns five offensive linemen who have been full-time starters.
The Tigers return their four top rushers (Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard) and two of their top three receivers (Odell Beckham and Russell Shepard).
I want to sleep tonight, so I won’t mention what their defense returns.
To me, the game plan sounds pretty easy. I find it hard to believe that Mettenberger’s stats will equal Lee and Jefferson’s numbers, so pound the rock and tell Mettenberger not to turn the ball over. All he needs to do is channel his inner McElroy.
The risk, though, is that this makes the Tigers one dimensional, and when November rolls around and the Tide comes to town, they’ll have to rely on Mettenberger to make some plays. And as we know, the Tide certainly loves a one dimensional opponent.
Last year, In the preseason, I picked LSU to beat Bama on the road and the primary reason was the Tide’s inexperience at quarterback. At this point, I’m tempted to use the same reasoning for 2012.