LSU’s chances in its season opener are looking less and less positive now that “starter” Jordan Jefferson is suspended for the first game because of his role in a bar fight/vicious group attack on a guy trying to pull out of the parking lot.
Pause for LSU fan to stop rubbing their temples and shaking their heads. If you see any LSU fans rocking back and forth in a corner, muttering to themselves, please help them up and tell them it will be OK. That there is, in fact, hope at the quarterback position in the LSU football program.
His name is Zach Mettenberger, and he comes with his own baggage.
There’s really only two ways a guy with Mettenberger’s physical tools would end up a juco transfer: he either had to leave a program because of a change in head coaches, or he’s a bit of a head case and couldn’t hack it during his first shot at Division I football. In Mettenberger’s case, it’s the latter. He pulled a college-level Ben Roethlisberger, was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery and was kicked off Georgia’s football team.
LSU coach Les Miles says even now that Mettenberger needs to work on his maturity: “I appreciate the idea that our fans are most interested in him coming in to play,” Miles said. “He is a tremendous talent and a guy that needs to mature…you have to give him time to mature, and once you do, he will be fine.”
It doesn’t take much analysis of those words to hear Miles saying, “The kid’s gonna sit this year and when I’m finally rid of freaking Jefferson and Lee, he’s in there and we’re STILL running it, you bastards.”
You also have to give Miles credit for his patience in this situation too. A lot of coaches would throw their stud show-pony in there the minute the starter couldn’t play. I have no idea if Mettenberger would be successful against Oregon, but if he were even average, public sentiment against Jefferson and Lee would be overwhelming.
But that’s where Miles is different from almost every other coach. He’s going with the guy he knows even though it’s everyone’s first year in Steve Kragthorpe’s system and even if going with Lee means getting very little out of the passing game.
Miles is also clearly thinking of the future here. After all, both Jefferson and Lee were thrown into the fire as freshmen and, well, you’ve seen the results. If the already somewhat questionable Mettenberger gets a case of the “too much too soon’s,” then it’s a couple more years of destroying the forward pass as we know it in Baton Rouge.
But screw all that. Mettenberger should play, if only to satisfy the large group of LSU fans who need to believe that there’s hope for the LSU offense. Even if Mettenberger isn’t great, they can blame it on his inexperience in the system and being a first-time starter in such a big game. But they’ll also see his huge arm and potential and be sated watching Jefferson and Lee play the rest of the year knowing that there’s a real quarterback somewhere out there.
Plus, there’s a halfway decent chance that Mettenberger does well, or at least as well as Jefferson or Lee would have done, and he’s only a sophomore. That way Kragthorpe can work with him all the way through the year and get him used to being the guy for LSU. Unless Mettenberger absolutely doesn’t get LSU’s new offense, there’s no way he’s worse than what the Tigers have had at the position.
Maybe Miles is just waiting a game or two before throwing the noob in there, but I kind of doubt it. He’s fiercely loyal to his guys, and, despite how bad they’ve been, Jefferson and Lee are his guys.
If Lee sucks against Oregon, expect to hear deafening calls for Mettenberger and defiant press conferences from Miles. And not just from this website either.