With the bye week for No. 6 LSU (7-1) winding down and the threat of No. 1 Alabama (8-0) barely more than a week away, coach Les Miles assured Tiger fans Wednesday that junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger is ready for next Saturday night.
In last Saturday’s 24-19 win against Texas A&M — his worst performance as an LSU starter — Mettenberger tallied his lowest passing yard total this season with 97 yards, completing just 11 of 29 passes, but Miles said he will choose to focus on the positive, like the fact that Mettenberger threw no interceptions.
“I don’t know that you can put all the passing woes on a quarterback,” Miles said. “Some of the balls were pretty well-thrown. There was a penalty called on a deep ball that was right in [Odell Beckham Jr.’s] hands. I thought that was a wonderful throw by Zach.”
Miles said Mettenberger played smarter against A&M than in previous games, which he will need to continue against Alabama, who has forced 20 total turnovers and 13 interceptions this season.
In the Tigers’ two previous top-10 matchups this season, Florida and South Carolina, Mettenberger didn’t fare as well in the turnover department, throwing an interception and completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes in both games.
But the experience of playing those games will make Mettenberger ready for the challenges he will face against Alabama, and the bye week will give him a chance to analyze film and correct his mistakes, Miles said.
“The South Carolina game was a game of this magnitude, and certainly A&M on the road was a game of this magnitude,” Miles said. “Now there’s the next game of this magnitude, so I really kind of hope he translates it as it’s a western division opponent. He just needs to do the things we ask him to do and not make too much of it.”
Despite LSU’s struggles in the passing game, Miles reaffirmed that the Tigers will not abandon the passing game, even against the No. 1-ranked defense in the Southeastern Conference — Alabama.
Though LSU fans’ attention may be fully devoted to next Saturday’s showdown in Tiger Stadium, the Tigers are more focused on themselves this week.
Miles said the Tigers are using their down time to recuperate from their litany of injuries and correct mistakes in their own game so they can be sure to play as flawless a game as possible on Saturday.
The team has not yet focused on implementing a game plan for Alabama, Miles said, but by the end of this week, the Tigers’ efforts will be fixated on the incoming Tide.