Hold That Tiger-Are LSU Fans Ready For A Passing Game?

Now that Les Miles has transformed from 3 yards and a cloud of dust to Don “Air” Coryell, I have one question for Tiger fans? Are you ready for a wide-open passing game?

It has often been said that 3 things can happen when a pass is thrown and 2 of the things are negative.

LSU’s game winning philosophy has been run the ball, don’t commit turnovers, play ferocious defense and win in special teams. This plan lead the Tigers to a 13 win season last year, but one devastating loss to Alabama and LSU has completely revamped.

In comes gunslinger Zach Mettenberger and a new style of offense.

Mettenberger came back from a sluggish first quarter with a solid second quarter when he threw for two touchdowns and 172 of his 272 yards. Playing with starters against mostly reserves on the Purple team, Mettenberger completed 14 of 25 passes, 7 of 10 in the second quarter, with the two touchdowns and two interceptions.

But more than LSU ever did with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, the starters for the last four years, Mettenberger was allowed to stretch the field with an array of deep passes.

I felt that the running game was stifled last year because defenses typically brought 10 and sometimes 11 players in the box. This type of defensive strategy allowed Tiger receivers to play against man-to-man coverage, which Reuben Randle often exploited, for big plays.

Perhaps restrained by a lack of faith in the passing game, LSU was run-heavy in recent years, especially in the frustrating 21-0 BCS championship game loss to Alabama Jan. 9.

Mettenberger completed four passes that covered 32 yards or more, including a 49-yard touchdown to sophomore Odell Beckham who also hauled in a 53-yard bomb, both burning freshman Jalen Collins. His snaps were limited as a second half with a running clock zipped the game to completion.

Miles new plan is to hit people with the run and hope the safeties creep up and then throw deep.

“We’ll challenge anybody that plays a single (safety) high coverage against us,” Miles promised. “If they play double high, frankly we’ll have an opportunity to run the football.” So pick their poison.”

Poison unfortunately comes in many different forms.

While Jefferson and Lee didn’t throw deep often, or throw much at all for that matter, they didn’t turn the ball over and give the opposing offenses a short field.

Mettenberger was picked off in the end zone by Ronald Martin on a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown.” He really tried to force the ball that he really didn’t need to throw,” Miles said.

Late in the game, a catchable pass deflected off the hands of tight end Tyler Edwards to linebacker Lamar Louis, who returned it 74 yards for a touchdown that pulled Purple within 24-17.  Okay, so you can’t blame Mettenberger for that one. It happens to all quarterbacks.

Tiger fans just need to be patient because Mettenberger will make some mistakes and throw some interceptions. All quarterbacks go through a growth process. I do believe if LSU fans support this kid, this team could be special.

“I think improvement needs to take place in the passing game and that is something that we did today,” Miles said. “I think balance has always been what we want to get done.”

LSU fans are hungry for improved quarterback play after feeling like this position has cost the Tigers a shot at a few national titles. Mettenberger will get his chance to go down as a legend. Win and Tiger faithful will love you. Lose and things will get dicey. Sometimes even winning is not enough. Ask Jordan Jefferson.

“It’s just the spring game,” Mettenberger said. “It’s more for the fans to get excited.

“We’re going to make our statement during the season.”

I for one can’t wait.

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