In his first start at LSU on Saturday, junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger showed plenty of promise. Yes, it was against North Texas and he threw for less than 200 yards, but his talent stood out. He looks legit at a listed 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds and has incredible arm strength. There isn't an area of the field where Mettenberger can't precisely place the ball.
He has plenty of room to grow, of course. At times, Mettenberger tried to rely on his arm too much, especially at the end of the first half. Mettenberger tried to fit the ball In an impossibly tight window at the left outside hash. The pass, which Andrew Luck would have trouble completing, was incomplete. Iit was followed by an under thrown pass that was intercepted on the next play. Mettenberger missed four of his last five attempts to close out the half.
Mettenberger's footwork was evident on a failed third down attempt at the start the second half. As pressure came around Mettenberger's right side, he stood there, poised delivering the pass. Yes, it didn't lead to a first down, but it was a nice check down. More importantly, he didn't move his feet around in the pocket like more experience quarterback prospects do (looking at you, Landry Jones).
He is poised in the pocket, but is behind in pocket awareness. Mettneberger was knocked out in the first quarter of the game following a devastating sack by North Texas cornerback Hilbert Jackson. Mettenberger's head snapped backward and he was woozy following the play. It was a blitz he should have recognized. Because he didn't, he was temporarily out of the game.
"That’s definitely something I don’t enjoy, getting drilled like that," Mettenberger told reporters after the game. "But it’s part of the game. We just have to prepare so that doesn’t happen next time and adjust."
In the second half, Mettenberger adjusted, hitting on nine of 10 passes. On a 34-yard touchdown, Mettenberger zipped the ball between three defenders, completing the pass to junior Kadron Boone. It's the type of throw that will get the attention of NFL scouts and help Mettenberger develop into a possible first-round pick.
Other quick notes from the game:
Defensive end Sam Montgomery didn't start the game for LSU. That went to senior Lavar Edwards, but Montgomery was on the field much of the game. Montgomery looks much bigger and stronger. and it showed in his push. Montgomery's lower half is thicker, which gives credence to his future as a 4-3 end. Montgomery didn't register on the score sheet, though, because he wasn't getting around the edge well. That's something to monitor going forward. Conversely, Barkevious Mingo was firing off the line extremely well and dipping around the edge.
Who replaced Mettenberger in the first half? Stephen Rivers, brother of Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. The younger Rivers, a freshman, is 6-foot-7 and doesn't throw with as drastic of a side arm as the elder Rivers.
LSU's offensive line is a work in progress. That's surprising considering their tackles, Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst, are both regarded as NFL prospects. Neither was getting out to the edge that well, especially in the first half.