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Friday, December 7, 2012
Tiger Tale: QB Zach Mettenberger

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player. We'll examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.

LSU/Alabama
After a slow start, Zach Mettenberger got the LSU passing offense in gear.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, Junior

Accomplishments: After spending two-thirds of the season adjusting to being a starting SEC quarterback while his receivers matured and the offensive line re-invented itself, Mettenberger played his best football down the stretch, passing for 1,070 yards in the Tigers' last four games, 90 yards a game more than what he threw for in the Tigers' first eight games. A strong-armed 6-foot-5, Mettenberger always looked the part, but he finally had production to match late in the season, finishing with 2,489 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Shortcomings: In an era where more and more teams are finding ways to take advantage of mobile quarterbacks (see Johnny Manziel's Heisman candidacy), Mettenberger is an old-school pocket passer who took 26 sacks. When he takes sacks, he tends to cough it up, with a team-high five fumbles (three lost) on the season. For all the yardage he threw for in the last third of the season, he still only tossed four touchdowns in those games, a pace barely better than what he was doing before.

Against Clemson: With Tajh Boyd on the other side, Mettenberger may be called upon again to do more than manage games. LSU's pass defense gave up yards and points when they played some of the SEC's better passing offenses late in the season. That could mean a shootout where, like the Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss games, he'll be called on to throw 30-plus passes for more than 250 yards for his team to win.