Published March 15, 2011 - 8:09am
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An old adage in football is that a team’s most popular player is the back-up quarterback. This spring, LSU’s most popular player is technically the third string QB. It seems Tiger fans are ready to anoint Zach Mettenberger as the Chosen One to lead the team to the Promised Land. His main competition, Jordan Jefferson, has 19 wins. Mett hasn’t even tallied up 19 practices yet. This probably shouldn’t be a big deal as quarterback battles happen all the time. It also isn’t uncommon for upperclassmen to be benched. Recently, both Texas A&M and Virginia Tech have sat returning senior starters in favor of underclassmen. The thing is, LSU is a legitimate championship contender going into the 2011 season.
Let that sink in. On the road to the Promised Land, LSU fans would rather a junior college transfer with no FBS experience, let alone SEC experience, under center for the Tigers. They would prefer him over a returning, senior starter who is 19-7 over the past two seasons. They would prefer him over the current senior back-up, Jarrett Lee, who also has a season of starting experience. Some would ask, “Where is the logic in that?” Many would answer, “Did you see how bad the LSU QB situation was?”
Some of the quotes coming from Baton Rouge this spring are also adding fuel to the fire. Les Miles has stated that he “has a team that can throw and catch and that he (Mettenberger) gives them an advantage there.” Miles has also stated numerous times that he is impressed with how quickly Mett is catching on and learning the system. When deciphering Miles speak, this translates to “Mett is an improvement at the position, he already knows the offense and we are expecting him to play.” Miles isn’t the only one heaping praise on the new QB. WR Russell Shepard has lauded Mett’s poise, dedication, and most importantly, his ability to throw the ball. When was the last time you heard an LSU receiver brag about a QB’s passing ability?
So far, all the LSU quarterbacks have been passing the ball very well with Jefferson getting more reps with the ones. All this changes when the Tigers put on pads and the drills go live. It will be very interesting to see how Mett practices against one of the top defenses in the nation. My hunch is that he will do just fine, if not better than expected. Miles knew this when he recruited Mett. This wasn’t just a flier to add depth to the QB position. Miles did his homework and went and signed the best prospect available to immediately upgrade his team’s weakest link. Arguably, the QB position is all that kept LSU from competing for SEC and BCS honors in 2010. Mett was brought in to remedy this today, not tomorrow. Miles will not let the best QB on the team ride pine. Jefferson may get the nod against Oregon, but Mett will be the starter by the time SEC play begins.