Time for the Friday mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @PatrickSmith45 I keep hearing how good Zach Mettenberger of LSU is. If he was that good wouldn't he have pushed for playing time this past year?
The vibe around LSU right now is really, really intriguing. The Tigers were so close to punctuating one of the great seasons by a team, but then get dominated by Alabama in their own backyard. LSU's offense was atrocious. Before the game, whenever someone asked me where LSU would rank with the all-time great teams, I tempered my answer because for as outstanding as they were on defense and special teams, their QB play was nowhere near that level, and on Monday night, it really showed.
That said, almost everyone I talked to last week sounded convinced the Tigers were in the midst of a great run considering that they have so many key guys in the program who are freshmen and sophomores. They had 16 players on the two-deep, including seven starters who were sophs or younger. People knew they'd likely lose Mo Claiborne, their superb CB, early to the NFL. Both QBs were playing their last game Monday as well, but you have to wonder if that's such a bad thing given how the showing in the BCS title game. Jordan Jefferson looked completely lost and his back-up Jarrett Lee didn't even inspire enough confidence in his coaches to bail them out when things looked so bleak.
No one has ever questioned one-time Georgia QB Zach Mettenberger's arm, and after a season at Butler County CC in Kansas, where he had a 32-4 TD-INT ratio, the expectations around the 6-6, 230-pounder only grew. Many of the people inside the program are sold.
I spoke to Mettenberger and his teammates a lot a few days ago about how LSU goes forward after the BCS game.
Mettenberger said he'd hoped he could've getting a shot at the starting QB job in 2011, but "Coach Miles didn't see it that way," he said. "It was tough at first but I couldn't get upset as long you're winning."
Mettenberger said he could hardly wait for Tuesday (the day after the BCS title game) because "that's when it's my team.
It's gonna be like getting a Maserati when you turn 16. I really think our offense can be special."
Obviously, the Tigers offense looked anything but special against Alabama the other night. Give a lot of credit to the Tide for that, but also there has been plenty of finger-pointing going on in the state of Louisiana. And, if you follow (former?) LSU WR Russell Shepard on Twitter, you see it's not just fans and media (and parents of Tiger players) doing it. Maybe Mettenberger will instill enough faith in his coaches to change that.
Listening to WR Odell Beckham Jr., one of those gifted young players in the program, that is the hope. "Me and Zach always talk about next year," Beckham said last Friday. "Zach wants to break a lot of records.
"One of the things I really about him is he's not afraid to take a risk. He also really does have a cannon for an arm."
Mettenberger said he's learned to become more of a passer than just a thrower. "I used to 'juice' everything." He also said he's realized he has to be quicker with his decisions thanks to his time on the Tigers practice field this year. "If you're a split-second too late on a timing route, (Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu) are gonna jump it."
As for the off-field issues Mettenberger had at Georgia, he said he's "changed my ways of life. You gotta learn to grow up."
We'll see if he is the answer for LSU in 2012. If not, there's dual-threat redshirt freshman Jerrard Randall, who Beckham says has an even stronger arm than Mettenberger, and blue-chip recruit Gunnar Kiel, arguably the No. 1 QB prospect in the country.
From @BruCam87 What can we expect out of Mora and UCLA next year? The talent level seems to be higher than any PAC 12 South team except SC.
That's been the problem with the Bruins over the past two, three, 10 years or so. The talent "seems" pretty high. They have loaded up on guys who look the part, but they've gotten bogged down by landing too many guys who simply don't love football and aren't as competitive as you need to have an elite program.
When I visited with Jim Mora a few weeks back he told me he was determined to make this a tougher team. If that's Mission No. 1, that will help right away, but a lot of that also will come back to recruiting and bringing in tougher, hungrier kids.
What you had in 2011 was a team that was really mediocre on both sides of the ball. I suspect new OC Noel Mazzone will improve the offense because his scheme will be a better fit to the talent than the pistol has been. It'll also help getting back stud LT Xavier Su'a-Filo from the LDS mission after two years away. This program has been so thin on quality O-linemen and Big X is the best that has been on that campus in a decade. And I do agree with you that, given all of the transition in the Pac-12 South, you won't have to be a top 25 team to finish second in that division.
From @hanleyf6 Sal Sunseri has accepted DC job at TN. Why leave Bama? Lots of uncertainty with Dooley's status and major rebuilding job.
Sunseri's already won BCS titles as an assistant at Bama, and while he's well-regarded as a recruiter, if he can help spark the Vols' resurgence after a dreadful 2011 at a time when that program seems in disarray, his stock will sky-rocket. Even though, there is increasing speculation that if Derek Dooley has another season like he did in 2011 or even close to as bad, he won't be the coach at UT in 2013, keep in mind that Sunseri is getting a reported three-year deal that'll be worth almost $2.5 million. There is stability in that.
On the back side of Sunseri's decision is this: if he stays at Bama, Nick Saban gets most of the credit and Tide DC Kirby Smart gets basically what's left over. By leaving, Sunseri is positioning himself for a much larger spotlight.
From Irishsox05 Is college football ever going to move in the hash marks to match the NFL?
Interesting question. Never really thought about it. The differing hash marks affect so much of the game in terms of scheming and the kinds of plays people run (wide-side versus boundary). It's also a big consideration for defensive "landmarks" for things such as plotting out coverage areas with the Cover-2, etc.
My hunch is the NCAA sticks with what they have because they'd like to keep things as unique for college and traditional as they can, rather than make another stop just to be more like the pros.
From @PaulPabst If we moved to a plus-one or playoff, best case scenario ... which season would it start?
It would start in the 2014 season with the Plus-One (playoff) games taking place in January of 2015.
From @RedKirby What's your prediction for Tx Tech next year?
My guess is the Red Raiders will make a bowl game in 2012 after missing out this past season. Seth Doege is back at QB. He had an inconsistent year as a first-time starter, but he figures to be better with another year of seasoning. Getting RB Eric Stephens back after missing half the season with a knee injury also will help a bunch. It'll also be interesting to see what they can get from a crew of WRs who didn't play in 2011: Derek Edwards, Tyson Williams and UF transfer Javares McRoy. The O-line did lose some solid players and will see how new coach Sam Pitman can bring them together.
The biggest question is on defense, where the Red Raiders have been among the nation's worst on D for the past two years. They don't lose much to graduation and Tommy Tuberville reshuffled his staff with some more experienced coaches. I expect things to be better on that side of the ball.
Big picture, this team should get at least seven wins since they have one of the better QBs in the conference and more experience in their top 44.
From @rbode17 Which of Florida's big 3 will have the best 2012 season?
I'll go with FSU. They finished 2011 with the most momentum, have the QB who is furthest along (E.J. Manuel) and have the best defense. They also have the most stability of the staffs among the Big Three.
From @Kentuckyclem how come the national media does not cover or do an exposé on over signing in the SEC? Seems to be the common denominator...
The national media has covered that topic. A lot. You can Google it and all the times we've talked about it in print. Not to mention all of the times many of us have been asked about it on the radio or on national TV shows.
From @DavidAnderson89 how come u didn't choose the CBS hat off the table when u made "the decision"?
That hat stuff is so 2008. Tweeting it made more sense. ... Better question, how come a man of your stature, didn't do something creative with your decision, like picking a Colorado State ski hat over a Boise State ski hat and a Stanford beret?
Since: Apr 16, 2007
Posted on: January 13, 2012 9:19 pm
Friday Mailbag: Mettenberger's Maserati
Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: January 13, 2012 8:43 pm
Friday Mailbag: Mettenberger's Maserati
Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: January 13, 2012 7:19 pm
Friday Mailbag: Mettenberger's Maserati