Hobbs Column: Tigers are not being left behind

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

ARLINGTON, Texas. — OK, Tigers, you can relax now.

The season opener is over and the sigh of relief isn’t so much about Saturday night’s final score — LSU 37, TCU 27 — as about the big picture.

LSU will be fine.

In the end you get the final score you

deserve, but LSU proved the persistent offseason rumors to be unfounded,

probably propaganda,

perhaps wishful thinking, put forth by opposing wannabes.

Yes, this season opener had more question marks for LSU than any in memory.

It was the great unknown for the Tigers, with a lot of preseason anxiety, most of it left over from watching in horror as

most of last year’s defense left early for the NFL.

Forget about it.

LSU will play better and surely at some point will play worse.

But they made a strong first impression amid the big-game atmosphere of the luxurious JerryWorld against a quality ranked

opponent in the Horned Frogs.

Mainly, the statement was that LSU is not getting left behind. That was the fear among some of the really hardcore, professional


The Tigers, despite more question marks than any other Miles team, are still LSU.

They will still have a seat at the SEC adults’ table, the one where the big boys eat.

The polls can rank them No. 12 all they want, but the Tigers aren’t leaving peacefully. Not to worry. They look here to stay.

Most of the names have changed, but get acquainted — they are still in any early discussions on the national picture.

Les Miles told you all summer that they had recruited over the years for just such an occasion. That it was no problem. He

said they could handle this, this is what LSU does routinely.

He was right.

Considering the question marks, this might have been Miles’ most impressive season opener to date.

Despite the mass early exits to the NFL, there has certainly been no dropoff in talent, particularly those defensive newcomers.

Maybe there really is a mass production line somewhere for them.

That was evident in the way LSU flew around the ball.

It’s LSU-quality talent all around.

With that established, now LSU can go about fine-tuning. There was never any major overhaul needed, no need to sit out a season

or two and watch the big boys play from afar.

There was also — thank goodness — plenty to nit-pick, plenty of coachable moments, perhaps, which should keep the braintrust


Overall, however, I’ve got to think they’re secretly thrilled.

If it wasn’t the most efficient of thrashings, well, it was, after all, opening night.

To the naked eye, LSU looked to be beating the stew out of TCU. Even on the stat sheet — where LSU traditionally does not

fare nearly so well — the Tigers outgained TCU 448-259 and had the ball for 13 more minutes than the Frogs, mainly because

they were an astounding 13 of 19 on third-down conversions.

New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is now an instant hero. It appears the fandom, for now, will have to find something

besides play-calling to complain about.

They are a resourceful lot and surely will turn up something.

Sure, LSU should have won this thing by three touchdowns based on what was happening on the field.

But it’s football. Stuff happens.

If the Tigers took their sweet time about putting the Frogs away, they at least had a quick answer anytime TCU starting sending

hints that might make a run.

So if there wasn’t a final verdict after one game, the Tigers at least showed they are capable of answering the myriad of


A lot of newcomers were impressive in their debuts or first brushes with such scrutiny. LSU can reload with the best of them.

Nobody mentioned there would be a new quarterback too.

Where was Zach Mettenberger Saturday night?

Guy out there looked like him in stature and face.

But that was not the Zach Mettenberger we saw last year.

There were a lot of positives to take away from JerryWorld.

But here’s where LSU fans will have to

close their eyes, click their heals and hearken dreamily all the way

back to 2007,

trying imagine a football utopia with a quarterback who, as Miles

put it so eloquently after the game, “sits back there and

hits his targets.”

LSU officials claimed afterwards it was

the same guy as last year, even though this “Mettenberger” looked

poised, confident,

mature, pocket-aware and mostly deadly accurate while making every

throw in the book, even the long ones. Especially the long

ones, which LSU didn’t hesitate to dial up.

So that’s the way it’s supposed to be done, huh? It will take some getting used to, for sure.

For all the good things LSU did Saturday — even for all the hijinks that allowed TCU to hang around longer than any frog should

— it was Mettenberger’s play that was the jaw-dropper.

The stats say he was 16-32 throwing,

but it looked better than that. Maybe one or two off-target passes. The

rest could be

written off the throw-aways (smart), drops (not that many) or

breakups (TCU had a very respected secondary; they’re allowed

to make plays, too).

Most importantly, the coaches (Cameron?) seemed to trust him enough to put the game in his hands at critical junctures to

make big time throws and he came through.

This could be fun to watch.

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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com