This year’s quarterback comparison going into the Alabama Crimson Tide/LSU Tigers college football game isn’t as even as last year’s. After a comparison of the two starters, the lesser of the two quarterbacks has to be Tigers’ quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The biggest problem that Mettenberger has in comparison to Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron is completion percentage. Every pass is going to count on Saturday night and Mettenberger’s ability to complete passes is what could take some of the pressure off of Jeremy Hill and the Tigers’ running game from needing to be the main producers on offense. But completion percentage has become a problem for Mettenberger in recent weeks.
For the year, Mettenberger is at around 56%, and while that isn’t that bad, it does seems that the Tigers’ loss to the Florida Gators is the game that put Mettenberger into a bit of a funk. Starting with the game against the Gators, Mettenberger hasn’t completed 50% of his passes in any of the last three games. And considering these games came against a group of tough SEC opponents, including the Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks, it’s not a good indicator of Mettenberger’s effectiveness against a good defense.
Another problem with Mettenberger and the Tigers’ passing game is that it hasn’t been productive in racking up yards. In the eight games the Tigers have played so far this season, Mettenberger has thrown for 190 yards or more only four times. And the last time that Mettenberger got to the 190 yards or more mark was against the Towson Tigers a month ago.
Finally, Mettenberger isn’t the kind of athletic quarterback the Tigers are used to having. He isn’t a rushing quarterback by any stretch of the imagination and his scrambling ability has shown to only be average at best. The Tigers have relied on more versatile players at the quarterback position in recent years. Having a quarterback who can rush or at least scramble very well benefits this team in many ways: it takes some of the work off of the running game without taking many carries out of their hands, it helps the receivers become less of targets to the opposing defense if they’re eying the quarterback more, and it makes the quarterback that much more of a threat to the opposing defense if he can rush, pass, and scramble well.
What it comes down to is Mettenberger, his receivers, and the Tigers’ offensive line are all going to have to play the game of their lives on Saturday night. This game can’t turn into one decided at the line of scrimmage or by the running games for the Tigers because they will lose if it does. If Mettenberger can keep the Crimson Tide defense on their toes and make his offense into one that is consistently moving the ball into Crimson Tide territory, then the Tigers will have a real chance at keeping their home winning streak alive.