Lost in the shuffle of the rise of Zach Mettenberger, who has flourished under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, is the maturation of Odell Beckham. Alongside Jarvis Landry, the duo potentially could be the Tigers best pair of receivers in the Les Miles era if their early season success continues into SEC play.
LSU returned its top four wide receivers from a season ago including Kadron Boone and James Wright, but it remained to be seen if that would be a positive heading into 2013 as the group was largely underwhelming last season.
Some of the blame can be thrown at the right arm of Mettenberger who flashed potential at times last season, but was far too inconsistent for large stretches which put the receivers behind the proverbial eight ball.
Mettenberger has looked like a new man this season with nine touchdowns in the Tigers 3-0 start, including a school record five in the win over UAB, but he has also been the beneficiary of the maturation of Landry and Beckham.
The duo has accounted for all of the Tigers passing touchdowns and given balance to an LSU team who has relied heavily on a physical run game and dominating defense in the past to sustain their success under Miles.
Landry led the team with 56 receptions with Beckham not far behind with 43, but he was Mettenberger’s security blanket and looked at often on critical third downs. He finished with 573 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns.
Beckham was the big-play threat as he averaged 16.6 yards per reception, but oddly enough he only reached the end zone on two occasions. Much like Landry, Beckham would disappear at times and make crucial mistakes such as his costly fumble vs. Florida in their 14-6 loss.
As Mettenberger has improved with his reads, touch and accuracy so to have Landry and Beckham evolved at their position. Beckham in particular is running crisper routes and showing much more consistency than at any time in their LSU careers.
The shift in philosophy with Cameron calling plays will benefit the two statistically as they can operate a vertical passing game as opposed to a short passing game dictated on check downs and dump offs. This offense will play to their strengths and Beckham and Landry should eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in their careers.
With two potential 1,000-yard receivers and Mettenberger looking like a dark horse Heisman candidate to go along with the usual strong run game and elite defense could make LSU the best team in the always loaded SEC west.