Don't look now, but all of a sudden No. 8 LSU has an offense where opponents have to respect more than just the run.
As the Tigers prepare to host Kent State (1-1) on Saturday evening, quarterback Zach Mettenberger already has six touchdown passes -- exactly half as many as LSU (2-0) totaled in the entire 2012 season.
New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's philosophy certainly has something to do with the change, but it also helps that Mettenberger has two pass-catching targets as dynamic as the ultra-competitive Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
“Before we even came here, he was one of the main reasons I wanted to go here, just to play on the same side of the ball as him,” Beckham said of Landry. “It's kind of crazy to see it all happening. But we compete in everything we do whether playing Xbox, it doesn't matter, we're always competing against each other.”
Beckham, who is second in the SEC with 251.5 all-purpose yards per game, has already touched the ball as a rusher, receiver, punt returner and kicker returner -- plus he returned a missed UAB field goal 100 yards for a touchdown last weekend.
While Landry (13 catches for 180 yards and three touchdowns) has already made a mark by ranking fourth in the SEC with 90 receiving yards per game, Beckham (10 receptions, 254 yards, 3 TDs, 127.0 ypg) has posted some ridiculous numbers.
“He don't like me saying it, but I'll say I think he's making a take for the Heisman right now, just starting off with a game like this and you carry it onto the next week and the SEC schedule,” cornerback Jalen Collins said. “If he keeps playing the way he does, I don't see why he shouldn't be a candidate.”
As the season progresses, LSU will certainly make better use of Jeremy Hill and the other talented running backs on the roster, as it has in the run-heavy recent past. But with Mettenberger's continued development and with weapons like Beckham and Landry at his disposal, LSU's offense suddenly becomes much more difficult to defend.
It certainly won't be a treat for a Kent State club that is coming off a 41-22 loss to Bowling Green and now ranks 94th nationally against the pass at 273 yards per game, almost exactly what LSU averaged in wins against TCU and UAB (272 ypg).
In their ongoing game of one-upmanship, Beckham and Landry should have another prime opportunity to earn bragging rights -- all the while making the Tigers' offense much more dangerous than in the one-sided seasons where the receivers didn't receive as much attention.
“We knew there would be tough times as far as player-to-player or whatever, our friendship,” Landry said, “but we also know that together, the things that our future could hold together being on the field at the same time, it creates mismatches for the offense. It allows us to really show our playmaking ability.”