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2013 Blitz: #8 Zach Mettenberger

LSU is 80 days away from the start of fall camp and Geaux247 will break down the 85-man roster in numerical order along with a few select walk-ons to get you to the beginning of camp.

Is Zach Mettenberger the key to LSU's success in 2013?

Today, we take a look at starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

#8 Zach Mettenberger

Coming out of High School: Mettenberger was ranked the No. 9 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County by the 247Composite, and was No. 117 overall in the Class of 2009.

There was never much doubt on where he would end up with his mother serving as a longtime employee with the Georgia football office, and Mettenberger actually committed to the Bulldogs in late January of 2008.

After completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,333 yards and 1o touchdowns as a junior, the four-star signal caller threw for 2,106 yards and 19 touchdowns against six interceptions to close out his prep career.

Early on at Georgia: After redshirting as a true freshman, Mettenberger was locked in a battle with current Georgia signal caller Aaron Murray before he was dismissed from the team by head coach Mark Richt in mid-April for violation of team rules related to a couple of arrests.

Some felt that the battle between Mettenberger and Murray would carry over into the summer and fall camp, but with Mettenberger out of the picture, Murray took the reins.

As for the final head-to-head battle between the two, Mettenberger performed better by completing 6-of-10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game compared to 8-of-19 passing by Murray for 96 yards.

Coming out of Junior College: When Mettenberger was forced to leave Georgia he ended up at Butler Community College. He was an immediate success as he led Butler CC to an 11-1 season that included a berth in the JUCO National Championship Game.

In his only season at Butler, Mettenberger started all 12 games and connected on 176-of-299 passes for 2,678 yards and 32 scores with only four interceptions.

Mettenberger, who was ranked the No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 prospect overall in the JC ranks by the 247Composite, fielded offers from schools all over the country.

Alabama and Texas A&M received strong consideration, but Mettenberger committed to LSU in early December.

Les Miles was the first to extend an offer to Mettenberger when his recruitment began to pick up at Butler. After making an official visit to LSU for the Ole Miss game the weekend before Thanksgiving he pulled the trigger three weeks later and had three years to play three for the Tigers.

Early on at LSU: LSU’s quarterback circus during the 2011 season centered on the battle between Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.

Still, Mettenberger saw action in five games and completed 8-of-11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Following a productive spring that Mettenberger ended with a 14-of-29 performance in the spring game for 270 yards and two touchdowns, expectations were high for the strong-armed quarterback entering the 2012 season.

After starting off the campaign 48-of-66 for 609 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in LSU’s first three non-conference games, Mettenberger quickly learned what life in the SEC was all about.

Over his next five outings, Mettenberger completed just 48 percent of his passes (64-of-132) for 810 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He did not throw a touchdown pass against an SEC defense until his fourth game against Texas A&M.

The light came on the following week when Alabama came to town and Mettenberger had his best outing of the year against one of the nation’s premiere defenses. He went 24-of-35 for 298 yards and a touchdown, and had the Tigers in position to win.

Mettenberger threw for more than 200 yards four weeks in a row to close out the regular season before turning in another disappointing performance against Clemson to close out the campaign.

All in all, Mettenberger completed 207-of-352 passes for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions. A key stat, however, was the 32 sacks and three lost fumbles to his credit.

Mettenberger’s year was not considered a success by many, but he did have some impressive marks. His 50:1 ratio of passes to interceptions rates as the best for a single-season in school history for quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts. Also, his 2,609 passing yards ranks as the fifth-highest total in school history, and he ranks No. 5 in LSU history in completions in a season (207) and No.4 in attempts (352).

What we expect to see in 2013: There is no denying that Mettenberger had his share of issues last season. He did not have a very good pocket presence and he took too many sacks.

However, some of that blame must be shouldered by the offensive play-callers to the offensive line all the way down to the receivers. There was not one element of the passing game that flourished.

This spring brought plenty of change to the LSU offense and it all started with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Cameron has tutored some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL from Drew Brees to Phillip Rivers on down to Joe Flacco.

Sources tell us that Mettenberger made strides during the spring and he looked better than he looked for much of the 2012 season.

LSU needs Mettenberger to play big in 2013 as the offense will need to score more points than it has in some time with a young and inexperienced defense. Aside from putting points on the scoreboard, the offense has to do a better job of staying on the field and putting drives together that end in touchdowns rather than field goals.

Will there be hiccups where Mettenberger reverts back to his bad habits of holding onto the ball too long? That is to be expected as those habits are tough to break completely.

However, while the physical skills have been improved according to our sources, the mental approach has as well, which could be even more beneficial as Mettenberger will be called upon to provide the leadership that was lacking last season.

And by most accounts, Tiger fans should see an improved Mettenberger and LSU offense in 2013.

Topic for Debate: Can Zach Mettenberger get the job done in 2013 that LSU needs to have a successful season.

If he does then LSU could once again find itself in the championship discussion when November rolls around.

If not, the Tigers could endure the most losses an LSU team has had since 2008 when they finished 7-5 in the regular season.

Which way will the pendulum swing?

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