Heading into LSU’s Spring Game Saturday at Tiger Stadium, many in the college football world hoped to get a preview of what the LSU offense may look like under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Instead, fans were treated to what the LSU offense may look like if Zach Mettenberger has a chance to call the plays.
“It was the first time I’ve ever (called plays),” Mettenberger said. “It was kind of a slow start to get going, but we turned it around and had a pretty good day.”
Mettenberger, who played the first half, completed 12 of 19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns as the White team, comprised mostly of starters, defeated the Purple team 37-0.
The senior quarterback started the game a little rusty, struggling at times to connect with his receivers. He bounced back in the second quarter though to throw two touchdown passes, including a 79-yard strike to Odell Beckham Jr. that put the White team up 16-0 at the half.
Nevertheless, Mettenberger said he does not expect to be calling plays this coming season.
“(Cameron) just wanted to see what our thought process was,” Mettenberger said. “He wanted to see down and distance and where our head was. I think we managed the game pretty well.”
Backup quarterback Stephen Rivers took over the White team offense at the start of the second half and completed 7 of 10 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Freshman Anthony Jennings handled most of the quarterback duties for the Purple team, which primarily included second and third team players. Jennings completed 8 of 21 passes for 98 yards and also demonstrated his mobility by rushing for 26 yards.
LSU Coach Les Miles said he was satisfied with the overall performance of his team during the game, which was played in front of an estimated 28,000 fans.
“Anytime that you finish spring with a game style of event, it doesn’t necessarily show off everything you can do offensively, defensively, or on special teams,” Miles said after the game. “You just need to be productive. Today was that kind of day.”
Miles was especially pleased with the performances of Beckham and fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Beckham finished the game with six receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while Landry hauled in six receptions of his own for 132 yards.
“I think those two guys are going to be that style of receiver for us … the big play guys,” Miles said.
White team running back Jeremy Hill led all rushers with 102 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown. Hill also finished the game with 24 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, Saturday marked the debut of an LSU defense looking to fill the shoes of 2012 standouts such as Barkevious Mingo and Eric Reid.
“Defense played well,” Miles said, adding that defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, linebacker Lamin Barrow, and safety Craig Loston “looked like the first team defense.”
Defensive end Danielle Hunter led all defensive players with eight tackles and two sacks. Barrow finished the game with seven tackles, while Loston had six tackles and a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone that ended the Purple team’s best scoring opportunity of the day.
“With the guys we got in the front, no matter what quarterback we are playing, you have about three seconds to get the ball out,” Loston said. “We make sure to take care of our jobs.”
After the game, Miles said that there was one statistic that he was most proud of following Saturday’s contest.
“The key statistic today is that we are not coming away with injury,” he said. “It didn’t appear to me that anyone got hurt, so we go into the summer season with a lot to improve on.”
Beckham said that the expectations for the team this coming season are very clear.
“Coming up short two years in a row is not good enough for us,” he said. “I feel like everyone on the team is smelling roses,” referring to the fact that the 2014 BCS National Championship Game will be played at the Rose Bowl in California.