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SmashMouth 08-07-2012 07:10 PM

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to inspire confidence as season nears
 
The word is mentioned so often and by so many people, you half expect it to be stamped on Zach Mettenberger's forehead, tattooed on his bicep or used as his Twitter handle.
Confidence.
"He knows the game, he brings confidence to that position," receiver Russell Shepard said of Mettenberger, the junior quarterback who hasn't yet taken a meaningful offensive snap for LSU. "That's something we feed off."
Of course, having confidence on Aug. 8 is easy. Having it when wearing a red, non-contact jersey during spring and fall practice doesn't always mean it'll last beyond the first sack, interception or pile drive into the turf.
But it has to mean something the way LSU coaches and players become one heart flutter shy of giddy when they talk about the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder who has been handed the keys to the offense of the top-ranked team in the nation, and told he doesn't have to take it easy on the curves.
Offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa on Tuesday glowingly spoke of a couple of throws Mettenberger made in practice this fall, each a daring rope down the middle of the field that had to be dropped in over a linebacker's head, into a miniscule window, caught by receivers who'd have finished off 60-yard touchdown connections.
Those throws, Studrawa said, wouldn't have been made last year.
Not because Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee didn't possess the arm strength or touch to make them. But because neither was willing to entertain such a risk; Lee, likely because he'd become gun-shy after a horrific freshman season in which he threw seven interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in 2008, and Jefferson perhaps because he'd seen what had happened to Lee on and off the field when Lee's risky business didn't pan out, and had been instructed to take care of the football and allow his outstanding defense to create offensive opportunities.
Each seemed conditioned to wait until a receiver was wide open before throwing the ball, rather than anticipating where the window would be and trusting his teammate to be in that opening.
Mettenberger's makeup doesn't suggest a matching level of conservatism.
"It's something me and (quarterbacks coach Steve) Kragthorpe talked about," said Mettenberger, who threw just 11 passes (completing eight) in less-than-mopup duty last season. "You want to fit (the pass) in, (but) you don't want to force the fit. You don't want to throw into triple coverage."
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that won't ever happen with Mettenberger behind center.
He has matured, all testify. But personal and athletic growth totally don't rule out the possibility that he might run another naked bootleg during a lopsided game - like the 25-yards he scampered for last season against Ole Miss, with the Tigers running out the clock in a 52-3 victory. That act that moved Coach Les Miles to instruct Mettenberger to take a knee on four consecutive snaps after he'd ran to the 1-yard line.
It's unlikely that he'd do something like that again. But chances will be taken, and a few of them might be ill-advised, during the course of a season in which Studrawa and Miles say LSU will throw the ball more than last year.
In 2011 the Tigers attempted 279 passes and ran 591 times. That imbalance - LSU ran a whopping 68 percent of the time on offense - is a tilt that the Tigers want to address, Studrawa said.
It helps that the Tigers, obviously, believe in their new pitcher.
"It's just my upbringing," Mettenberger said. "My Mom and Dad always told me to be confident in myself."
As a result, Shepard said that the entire offense is Mettenberger's to command, that the Tigers will follow where he leads.
"I don't think it's just because of my abilities," Mettenberger said. "(The coaches) have confidence in the receivers we have, that the running backs can catch the football and that the offensive line will be protecting me."
But it doesn't hurt to have his abilities. It's not a bad thing that Mettenberger looks the part and that few would argue that he already is a better deep ball thrower than his immediate predecessors.
Those two, Jefferson and Lee, combined to help LSU win its first 13 games before its title-game meltdown. If Mettenberger can be more than a caretaker whose job isn't so much to contribute as it is to not mess up, there's no telling how good the Tigers can be.
"Without a doubt, I fully accept the responsibility of being the starting quarterback," he said.
Sounds like a man who's confident he's ready to do the job. And sounds like everyone at LSU believes him.

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Crusader 08-10-2012 12:53 AM

Re: LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to inspire confidence as season nears
 
I'm really looking forward to seeing this years team. A balanced offence and a D that still will be very very good wll be almost unstoppable.

Halo 08-10-2012 01:48 AM

Re: LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to inspire confidence as season nears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Crusader (Post 426017)
I'm really looking forward to seeing this years team. A balanced offence and a D that still will be very very good wll be almost unstoppable.

Honestly, Mettenberger could have started last season for LSU.
LSU will be powerful this year.

QBREES9 08-15-2012 07:32 PM

Re: LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues to inspire confidence as season nears
 
I wonder how Jarret Lee is doing in San Diego


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