The only way to start previewing the upcoming LSU football season is to start with the quarterback position. Lets face it, only Obama’s approval rating was lower than the confidence we had in either signal caller a year ago (I still promise to avoid names). Both quarterbacks last year were too inconsistent and to use a Les Miles phrase struggled to have the “chest” needed to win a national title.
This year looks to a different story with Zach Mettenberger taking over as the lead signal caller for LSU. Mettenberger’s 25-yard run against Ole Miss last year is all the proof we need to know this guy has moxie. LSU had the ball at the Ole Miss 26 yard line and on third and one Mettenberger ran a naked boot when clearly Les Miles expected him to hand the ball off for a inside run. Mettenberger tried to reach the end-zone, but fell just one-yard short. This play cause Les Miles to call three straight kneel downs with five minutes left in the game.
Zach Attack was brewing before that play, but that run took it to another level. Terms like Zach Attack and Mettsiah went from message board creations to common references in Baton Rouge following his sizzling performance in LSU’s spring game. Go back and re-read those sentences. All of the hype surrounding this guy is based largely upon a few plays last year in mop up time and a team scrimmage.
Not helping Zach’s cause was the instant JUCO success of Cam Newton when he arrived at Auburn. The only thing Newton and Mett have in common is that they were both kicked off SEC east teams and landed on SEC west squads. No one is making the comparison that Mett is the same player as Newton, but the hype is eerily similar.
The last football player to receive this type of praise before stepping on the field was Russell Shepard…and we all have seen just how well that has turned out. The big question moving into the season is what will it take to consider Mettenberger a success? Will it simply be measured at finishing the season with a win in Miami, or is there more to it? Ever since 2007, LSU has been forced to hide its quarterbacks. Remember in 2008 when Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch was the best option for LSU? That is how low the talent has been, so it is okay to get Zach’ed-up for a player with his talent, but what type of numbers does he need to have to keep all of these nicknames?
I research a decade’s worth of information to come up with a base line stat. What I was for was quarterback play that took the offense to either the conference championship or national championship. I even included Jamarcus Russell’s 2006 season, even though they didn’t win the title let’s face it; this is the best team in the BCS era not to win the title. Let’s take a look at their production.
Revisiting these numbers certainly bring back memories of each greatest games. While writing this, Rohan Davey just threw another touchdown to Josh Reed at Alabama. Buried in all of these games was the dominant 2006 season that Russell had, but is that they type of production Mettenberger needs this year? No, like most of these quarterbacks, Mettenberger heads into the season with possible the best defense in the country, a deep and talent running back group and a above average offensive line.
When you tally then stats above you get the following average:
How good are these numbers? If you compare them with the quarterback production last year, these numbers would have finished third only behind Georgia’s Aaron Murry and Arkansas’s Tyler Wilson. Placing third in the conference is nothing to upset you, especially looking at the recent production from the team, but the goal of this is to show that Zach Attack doesn’t have to put up Heisman-like figures.
Lets scale is down even more. What will a successful game for Mettenberger look like? Focusing on the chart above, and lets assume LSU plays 14-games; here is a look at his game average.
Again this is all the production needed for LSU to have success in the upcoming season. This is of course a base line number that hopefully trends upward as the season moves on, but as long as he is giving this type of production the quarterback production will return to a respectable level and Zach Attack or whatever nickname sticks can live on.