LSU’s national title hopes have been dashed after their second loss, but there is still plenty to play for, including spoiling the title hopes of rival Alabama on Nov. 9 after both teams have their bye week. For LSU, the bye week is coming at the perfect time because the Tigers have a lot they need to work on in the time between kickoff between the SEC west rivals.
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Zach Mettenberger needs to stop his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine over the past few games and put together a consistent four quarters and display the form he showed in the first quarter of the season when he was a darkhorse Heisman contender. Now that talk is all but a distant memory.
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The running game behind the deepest backfield in the SEC and perhaps the country can lessen the burden on Mettenberger to feel the need to throw for 300-yards and three touchdowns every game.
Plus he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the country with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry capable of breaking open a game on any given play.
As talented and prolific as the Cam Cameron-led offense has been as a whole, the problem reflects on its field general where four quarters of consistent offense has been largely absent.
We’ve seen great first halves followed by duds in the second half and we’ve seen the polar opposite with sloppy first half play followed by great play in the final 30 minutes. The Furman game was a microcosm of the LSU season.
It’s easy to look past Furman with the bye and Alabama off in the distance, and the biggest beneficiary of this bye week may not be the player’s health, but rather their minds who need the battery recharged.
“We’ve been going since Aug. 2 without a break,” LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tells NOLA.com. “It’s going to be a great time for us to heal, take it easy a little bit. Get refocused, recharge our batteries to get ready for a battle in Tuscaloosa.”
Mettenberger is likely suffered from a mental fatigue from the recent struggles he’s endured and the countless hours he’s spent learning Cameron’s new offense and the hours spent watching and breaking down film.
A number of teams including Alabama have already had one bye week, so you get the feeling this LSU team may be running on fumes a little bit considering the grueling schedule they face and the mental grind preparing for the top team in the country takes on you.
The physical toll falls more on the linemen, linebackers and running backs, especially Jeremy Hill who has been the proverbial workhorse with 128 carries the last eight weeks.
“I need it bad,” he said. “Getting all of those carries, it’s going to be great to get my legs under me for the home stretch, and I think it will be good for our team as well.”
LSU is fully capable of giving Alabama their first loss, but in order take down the two-time defending champions they need to be ready physically as well as mentally.
Getting away from the constant grind and coming back refreshed, rededicated and hungry to attack the rest of the schedule with relentless abandon is the mindset needed to take down the Crimson Tide.
Anything less than that will not be enough to get past Alabama and perhaps Texas A&M. LSU can win out and salvage a once-promising season and sneak into the BCS bowl picture and earn an invite to the Sugar Bowl.
LSU, #11 in the AP polls, begin an extremely tough final stretch of games as they take on two time defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M back to back. If LSU can beat both teams they will make a strong push for a BCS Bowl berth. LSU football tickets currently rank as the 8th most expensive on the TiqIQ Top 25 rankings for an average price of $158.