LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger passes as Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial, No. 90, pursues in the second half Saturday night Baton Rouge. Alabama won 21-17. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, November 04, 2012 9:59 PMBATON ROUGE — On a night when LSU apparently found the Zach Mettenberger it had been looking for at quarterback, the Tigers may also have put the “stable of running backs” system out to pasture.
Yes, there were bright spots to a heartbreaking 21-17 loss to No. 1-ranked Alabama Saturday night.
Mettenberger finally lived up to the summer hype Saturday against the nation’s best defense with a coming out party against No. 1-ranked Alabama that included 298 yards passing while completing 25 of 36 passes for a touchdown and no interceptions.
It helped that he had a viable running game
For two years the running back spot has been a talented committee, with four of five running backs shuttled in and out waiting to find the hot hand.
But freshman Jeremy Hill appeared to clearly establish himself as No. 1. Against the nation’s top rushing defense, he got 29 of the 39 carries allotted to running backs and responded with 107 yards and a touchdown — his third straight 100-yard effort of the season.
None of it was enough as Alabama mounted a last-minute drive capped by T.J. Yeldon’s 29-yard touchdown with a screen pass.
“This one hurt,” defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. “We put our heart and soul into it. We had the game in our hands and little mistakes cost us the game.”
“It’s something we will have to deal with,” defensive end Sam Montgomery said. “We let this get away. We had tons of opportunities ... but we couldn’t put them away.”
At least as they go forward it appears the Tigers (7-2, 3-2 SEC) will have a quarterback after the Mettenberger break out game the offense had been waiting on.
“I was thrilled with how Zach played,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “He made all the passes, was competitive and fought.”
Mettenberger was on target all night. But, LSU had at least three dropped passes in the first half — a common affliction this season — before the receivers’ play matched their quarterback in the second half.
After halftime, Mettenberger was 14 of 17 for 206 yards, including a perfect 7-for-7 on third down. It allowed the Tigers to erase a 14-3 halftime deficit and take a 17-14 lead until the final Bama comeback.
“I knew we were fully capable of that all year,” Mettenberger said. “There are finally things that are clicking for us.
“I feel like we had good rhythm the whole game ... We played with great confidence.
“As well as we played, I would have traded three interceptions for the win.”
But, in the end, the Tigers’ offense came up one first down short of putting the game on ice and the defense was one Alabama stop from holding off the Tide.
“It’s still killing me that we didn’t finish that last drive,” offensive tackle Josh Dworaczyk said.
“We held them for the most part,” said safety Eric Reid. “It just goes to show you it only takes one error for you to lose the game.”
Posted By: claude On: 11/5/2012
Title: One first down short
All night, 3rd down conversions were accomplished with the passing game. With the game on the line, Less Smiles showed that he has no confidence in the passing game, and tried to run the ball. Way to go Less.