It didn’t take long for Zach Mettenberger to feel like a Division-1 starting quarterback.
With just about four minutes to play in the first quarter, Mettenberger was blasted by blitzing Mean Green cornerback Hilbert Jackson. The junior signal caller remained on the Tiger Stadium sod for a few moments before being walked off the field by the LSU medical staff.
An anxious Tiger Stadium held its collective breathe.
“It’s not something you want to have happen every game, getting drilled like that,” Mettenberger said. “It’s just part of the game, you just have to prepare better next time and adjust.”
Mettenberger jogged into the locker room for routine concussion test that he “passed with flying colors”. It was just part of an interesting night for the first-time starter.
When it was all said and done, Mettenberger connected on 19 of 26 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. He was also picked off once after LSU marched down to the North Texas seven yard-line with just over a minute to play in the first half.
“All in all, I liked (Mettenberger),” said LSU Head Coach Les Miles. “I liked his composure. He threw a pick down in the red zone that I think is something that we will correct. He will learn to take what the defense is giving you rather than pressing.”
Most of Mettenberger’s throws came around the line of scrimmage on screens. As the game wore on, the Tigers were able to push the ball down the field.
That is, after the first big strike, a 30-yard slant and go to Russell Shepard in the north endzone, was negated because right guard Josh Williford found himself down field ineligibly.
Mettenberger atoned for Williford’s mishap on the next drive by zinging a 30 yard strike to a well-covered Kadron Boone who took it in for his third career touchdown, two of which have come from Mettenberger.
Jarvis Landry hauled in the second big play, a 33-yard grab on a route identical to Shepard’s earlier in the game.
Landry finshed his night with a team-best and career high eight catches for 82 yards.
“Like I’ve told everybody, this is going to be (Landry’s) breakout year,” said sophomore wide receiver Odell Beckham. “He was making big catches, big plays, and that’s something we’ll expect from him this season.”
Landry’s first catch of the night came on the Tigers’ first drive on a third and one play. Mettenberger play faked to his tailback and fired a bit high for the 6-feet-1-inch wide reciever. Landry lept and snared the high toss with one hand before corralling it into his chest for a 19-yard gain and a first down.
While the catch garnered a great deal of attention, the play call may have made a bigger statement. It confirmed the preseason talk that hinted at LSU being more committed to the pass.
Miles called the effort “sloppy” and “not too bad” in the postgame press conference.
“It’s not like the NFL where we get four preseason games,” Mettenberger said. “It’s not like high school where we get jamborees or a scrimmage. It’s tough to go out there and play your first game.
“But we got it under our belt, we came away with th win, and hopefully we can get better for Washington.”