The case for
Despite losing 11 underclassmen who left early for the NFL—thought to be the most ever for a team in a single season—the Tigers will be a threat to knock off Alabama in the SEC West because of the maturation of one player: senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. A year ago, in his first season as the starter, the 6'5", 230-pound Mettenberger struggled with his accuracy on intermediate-length passes and often appeared as slow-footed as a lineman. But working with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron this spring, Mettenberger tweaked his throwing mechanics. "It was little things, like where I put my [right] big toe when I throw and always trying to keep my eyes looking down the field," Mettenberger says. He also spent dozens of hours performing speed drills on the LSU practice fields. The play of the new and improved Mettenberger, who possesses an NFL-caliber arm, will lift a young team looking to maintain its place near the top of the SEC pecking order.
The case against
raduation and early departures crushed the defensive line, where four starters must be replaced. Breaking in two more starters in the secondary (sophomore cornerback Jalen Collins and junior safety Ronald Martin) makes it harder to stop high-powered SEC offenses.
What kind of development have you seen out of Zach Mettenberger this off-season?
He's more commanding, more comfortable and more demanding of his teammates. His commitment to his job is more evident.