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Insider

Players weigh in on start of spring practice

3/3/2012

The LSU football team spoke to the media for the first time this spring on Saturday afternoon, following the second of 15 practices during March.

Several Tiger veterans, including senior guard Josh Dworaczyk and defensive end Sam Montgomery, were on hand. Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger also faced reporters for the first time since taking over as the Tigers' starter under center.

Mettenberger faced a bevy of cameras, recorders and questions, which he said is all part of taking hold of the leadership role as the team's starting quarterback.

"It's my team and I'm trying to take the offense by the reins. I'm trying to be a leader on and off the field," he said. "It's always easier to be more of a vocal leader when you're finally the starter as opposed to third string. But the relationship I have with the coaches and the players here, it was an easy transition."

Spring football hasn't been the first work for Mettenberger since the end of the 2011 season. As has been noted, Mettenberger has been meeting with his wide receiver corps often during the offseason to work out and throw passes.

"We worked out three times a week before spring practice, and I think that helped out a lot," he said. "We came out here on day one and day two and we were really crisp. We got our routes ... and the timing was a lot better than most first days. That's just something we have to keep getting better on, and hopefully by day 15 we'll be perfect."

A strong spring would definitely be beneficial to Mettenberger and the LSU passing game. Since the Tigers' abysmal offensive showing in the BCS Championship, LSU coach Les Miles has pledged his desire to throw the ball more in 2012. But Mettenberger said it's on him and his receivers to prove they're capable of airing it out.

"We've got to go out there and prove we can be an efficient passing offense," Mettenberger said. "He's not going to throw the ball, or allow us to throw the ball, if we're going to go out there and go 10-for-33. We've got to be really efficient on the passing side as well as the running side to be a pro-style offense."

Mettenberger said he considers himself a confident person, which is an important attribute for a starting quarterback. When asked what he sees in the new starter from across the line of scrimmage, Montgomery said he prefers Mettenberger's confidence to swagger.

"Swagger is like flash. Confidence is old school, that's what you beat people down with," Montgomery said. "He's an old school quarterback -- sitting there, shaking off people trying to sack you, throwing the ball, knowing how to tuck that thing and run it -- confidence. Swagger is looking cute, bouncing around, checking people three times. No."

Dworaczyk happy to be back

Although he's not going 100 percent at practice, Dworaczyk was giving it his all in interviews. The senior said he's elated to be back with the team after missing the 2011 season with a knee injury. Leading up to spring practice, Dworaczyk endured a nerve-wracking wait for news about whether he would be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

"I didn't know how long it was going to take ... it was a big question mark. It was really stressful," he said.

When he got the news he'd be returning for another year, Dworaczyk said he had a hard time not interrupting his professor.

"I was actually in class doing my notes, and I got an email alert from our compliance people, saying I'd gotten another year," he said. "I basically felt like I needed to run out into the hallway and scream. But I sat through the class and held it in."