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Five things to know: Quarterbacks

6/24/2012

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee era is over at LSU, and though the pair oversaw four years of consecutive bowl appearances, 41 wins, an SEC championship and a BCS national championship game appearance, many Tiger fans are ready to turn the page, given the Tigers' sometimes anemic passing numbers in their four years.

Here are five things to know about a position that has been a lightning rod at LSU since the dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux following LSU's 2007 national championship season.

1. Big arm, big results?: Junior Zach Mettenberger is one of the most anticipated new starters, heck, maybe the most anticipated new starter, in college football.

The 6-foot-5, strong-armed former Georgia up-and-comer is the new starter and he's supposed to be all the things Lee and Jefferson weren't. Namely, he's a dangerous passer, with the accuracy that Lee would sometimes show but with a bigger arm. And with a dual threat quarterback like Jefferson not part of the mix, there's no doubt what the LSU approach will be: a pro-style offense featuring power running and the strong right arm of Mettenberger.

He showed a preview of what LSU fans hoped to see in the fall when he connected on a pair of deep balls in the spring game, showing the down-the-field threat the Tigers have sorely lacked, particularly on Jan. 9 when they looked so inept in a 21-0 BCS championship game loss to Alabama.

"We will be more efficient in the passing game," head coach Les Miles promised.

And perhaps the Tigers will be. But isn't it a little presumptuous to assume Mettenberger is the answer? After all, he has yet to start a Division I college game. How will he react when the lights come on?

2. The "Little" Brother: The battle for the backup spot appeared to be won in the spring by redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers, the 6-foot-7 younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

There's not much "little" about Phillips' younger brother, whose lanky build more resembles that of an SEC small forward than a quarterback. But his command of the offense gives him an edge over Jerrard Randall, a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, but a player who has had a tougher adjustment to the LSU offense.

3. Speaking of Big: LSU is still waiting to see if Jeremy Liggins, the 270-pound prep oddity from Oxford, Miss., will join the QB derby.

His high school coach said Liggins still needed to raise his ACT score to gain admittance into LSU. He has already taken the test for the last time and if his score isn't high enough, he'll head to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the Tigers will be left with just three scholarship quarterbacks.

4. Can they catch a break?: If Liggins doesn't make it, it'll be the latest in a string of misses in quarterback recruiting.

Liggins was actually a late fallback after the nation's No. 3-rated pocket passer, Gunner Kiel, backed off his LSU commitment and instead signed with Notre Dame.

This came two years after LSU lost another highly regarded prospect, Zach Lee, when he was drafted late in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers for his pitching prowess. The Dodgers did not sign Lee until shortly before the start of August camp that year.

That came a month after sophomore Chris Garrett was released from the team. And, of course, it was three years after the dismissal of Perrilloux from the team.

5. What's next?: LSU is still trying to get its numbers up at the position, so having two committed quarterbacks is no surprise.

Hayden Rettig, rated No. 13 among pocket passers and No. 202 overall in the ESPN 300, and Anthony Jennings, the No. 13 dual-threat QB and No. 260 overall in the ESPN rankings, are both committed.