LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger throws as Texas A&M's Julien Obioha, right, tries to defend during the fourth quarter Saturday in College Station, Texas. LSU won the game 24-19. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 22, 2012 5:43 PM
It had been rumored, but LSU showed beyond any reasonable doubt Saturday against Texas A&M that the Tigers really can throw the ball the deep.
That’s half the battle. Now, they just have to learn to catch the deep pass.
“If we’d hit some of them, it could have been a different (easier) game,” LSU head coach Les Miles said after the 24-19 victory. “But we didn’t. We had to win another way.”
In the end, LSU, tried and true, had to turn to its old reliables — a defense that, after some early struggles of its own, kept the Tigers in the game and hand-delivered five turnovers to the offense, which mostly had to use its usual power running game at crunch time.
But it wasn’t for lacking of trying other things.
Now, with a week off before the annual showdown with Alabama, Miles promised the No. 6 Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) will keep working on alternative means of offense.
It ran the gamut Saturday from turning quarterback Zach Mettenberger loose with the deep ball to splitting Mettenberger out as a wide receiver (totally ignored by the Aggies) while his teammates ran LSU’s version of the wildcat offense.
The results were the same. The Tigers eventually ran for 219 yards and Mettenberger completed only 11 of 29 for just 97 yards — not exactly the balanced attack Miles has been searching for.
Texas A&M’s defensive tactics weren’t exactly new for LSU as the Aggies, like most opponents, stacked most of its defense up near the line, basically daring the Tigers to throw.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Mettenberger said. “Before this game, we hadn’t really taken many shots downfield. Everyone is going to try to stop the run against us.”
The conditions at Kyle Field Saturday were hardly optimal for airing it out, what with a steady and strong north wind blowing.
Apparently, though, Miles had seen enough team portraits at the immediate line of scrimmage. He not only had Mettenberger throw a season-high 29 times, he unloaded really deep passes on at least a six or seven occasions.
The only success came on a medium throw when Kadron Boone made an over-the-shoulder diving catch in the end zone just before halftime that gave the Tigers the lead for good, 14-12.
LSU’s first touchdown pass against an SEC opponent this season actually was No. 2 on ESPN’s plays of the day.
Maybe it was the oddity factor.
But the lack of connections with the bombs-away philosophy has not deterred Miles.
“We’re going to hit some of those deep shots eventually,” he said. “It’s not only going to be enough, it’ll be way enough. Problem is, we’ve got to him them.”
Miles said he liked the way Mettenberger “managed the game” — no turnovers while A&M’s more heralded Johnny Manziel threw three interceptions — and still thinks his own quarterback can be a successful thrower.
“That’s why Mettenberger’s there,” Miles said. “Mettenberger can throw the thing. We have to throw it some more. We have to practice it some more, and maybe we’ll hit it next time.”
“If everybody (on defense) is going to stand in around the ball, we’re going to enjoy opportunities to throw it.”
LSU receivers have also struggled at times, but Miles is also confident in their talent.
“We have a nice receiving corps, we’ve just got to get them comfort,” Miles said. “We have guys that can run and catch it.”
“Next time we have to capitalize on the deep balls,” Mettenberger said.
Posted By: tiger man with guts On: 10/23/2012
Title: got lucky in texas but bama time coming...
our iil tigers got lucky when the ags made a couple of mistakes and a ref threw a flag taking away a touchdown from those ags but bama is coming so our great coach will have nothing to say........wonder if tigs will score over 3 points.........................we will see once again how inept and stupid miles is ....he could not get any points against the ags and now tide is fixing to come in...........let us get a real coach