For me personally, LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger's incredible showing the last two weeks has brought back fond memories of Rohan Davey and the Tigers' prolific passing attack during their 2001 SEC Championship season.
While JaMarcus Russell (2006) and Matt Mauck (2003) hold the LSU single-season record for most touchdown passes with 28, and Tommy Hodson (1986-1989) is easily the Tigers' all-time leading passer with 9,115 yards, Davey directed the most lethal Tigers' aerial assault I've ever seen.
Davey fired rockets for a single-season school record 3,351 yards during that 10-3 LSU campaign 12 years ago. That doesn't even include Davey's epic 444 yards passing in a rather easy 47-34 Sugar Bowl triumph over Illinois. But, not many fans will forget Davey torching Alabama for an astonishing 528 yards, an LSU single-game record, during a 35-21 triumph in Tuscaloosa. He didn't necessarily throw the prettiest ball - tight, beautiful spirals were hardly Davey's specialty.
He could wing it, but the little bird could flutter during flight. Davey also earned the reputation of a guy that really didn't practice well. But when the stadium lights came on, No. 6 was simply a leader. He was charismatic and cool. There was an infectious swagger he brought to the huddle. And humorously, while LSU's offensive production ballooned, so could Davey's waistline.
"I don't know what's so hard about it," head coach Nick Saban would gripe about his quarterback's weight. "I get on the scale every morning. If I weigh more than I should, I don't eat as much that day."
Momma's Jamaican food apparently was a powerful and hard-to-resist temptation.
Davey averaged a school record 279.2 yards per game passing in '01. Fast forward to the present where Mettenberger has gunned it for 289.6 yards per game through the first half of LSU's season. If he matches those numbers during the second half of the year (and at this rate, he may easily exceed them), Mettenberger would finish with 3,476 yards passing and 30 touchdown passes, both of which would be new LSU records, along with his 68.2 percentage completion percentage, which would top Russell's number of 67.8 percent in 2006. And with all due respect to JaMarcus, then offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was dialing up a ton of slip and bubble screens that season, passes that lend themselves to higher completion percentages. Mettenberger and Davey, for that matter, don't dink and dunk, they sling it deep.
And, what's the number that likely won't be big? As a matter of fact, it could be skinnier than Screech and the most impressive of them all. If Mettenberger duplicates his numbers from the first half of the season in the second, he'll finish with a measly four interceptions in a whopping 314 pass attempts. That's probably unlikely, considering the schedule is almost exclusively tough SEC competition (no UAB or Kent State, although LSU hosts Furman October 26) and the fact he's tossed picks in two of the last three contests. Still, even if there are a few more picks tossed, Mettenberger's touchdown to interception ratio should be fantastic.
Team success is obviously the ultimate goal for LSU and Mettenberger, not records in a media guide. He probably knows little, if anything, about the numbers detailed above. Winning a national championship is what Mettenberger aspires to accomplish. But with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron proving to be nothing short of a brilliant hire for head coach Les Miles, it's fun to envision what final stats this powerful quarterback will put up. Like Josh Reed and Michael Clayton to Davey, Mettenberger has two remarkable receivers to thank for much of his success. Juniors Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. have been an incredible duo, combining for 77 receptions, 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this year. And that's a whole different column - how many records will Landry and Beckham break, before their college careers are complete?
And what about this for another big question - will Mettenberger get himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion? Ask me that again on November 10, a day after LSU's contest at two-time defending national champion Alabama. A huge performance and victory against a Nick Saban defense all but wrapped up the Heisman for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel last season. It could do the same for Mettenberger, but fellow college signal callers like Tahj Boyd (Clemson), Jameis Winston (Florida State), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and yes, Manziel, along with their obscene statistics, might be too difficult to overcome.
Still, Mettenberger's 372 yards passing and three touchdowns in a tight 44-41 loss at now No. 7 Georgia, followed by his 340 yards and two more touchdowns in a 59-26 demolition of Mississippi State in Starkville, definitely grabbed the nation's attention. An LSU quarterback passing for 710 yards in two games? That was like a seven game total for the Tigers in 2010. And if you think I'm exaggerating, go check the box scores.
THIS, is certainly much more fun to watch.
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