I wouldn’t exactly call this a blazing insight on my part, but this Bruce Feldman mailbag, which addressed Florida’s chances this season and this post at Capstone Report about LSU’s Zach Mettenberger got me wondering which school is likely to be happier with its quarterback production in 2012.
Here’s what Feldman defines as success for the Gators’ QB situation in 2012:
The Gators don’t need their quarterback to be Andrew Luck to win the division, but they need significant improvement over what they had there since Tim Tebow left town. They need their QB to avoid turning the ball over, and consistently find open receivers and make accurate throws on time. Both were around 47 percent on completions last year. That needs to improve at least 10 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, somebody doesn’t think Mettenberger’s is destined for success against the SEC’s tough defenses, and that maybe his head coach knew that last year.
I have no doubt that Mettenberger will be good; programs like LSU get good quarterbacks. But if he were better than what they had, wouldn’t he have made an appearance in New Orleans a few months ago? It is proposterous [sic] to think a team would hold anything…ANYTHING…back when the crystal football is on the line.
When Alabama played Texas for the first of their National Championships in the last three years, it was well-documented that if something happened to Alabama’s starting QB Greg McElroy, Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s next option was to burn the redshirt off of AJ McCarron and put him in the game. In game 13 of a 13-game season.
And yet, last January, with the walls of LSU’s season finale burning down around them, Mettenberger stood on the sidelines, without so much as a sweatbead gathering on his forehead throughout the game.
He has never faced a 3rd and 16 on the road. He has never had to take a snap after throwing a pick the last time he touched the ball. He has never been drilled by an SEC linebacker. And he has never faced the complexity of a Nick Saban defense…the kind of complexity that still has Jarrett Lee in a fog.
My feeling going into the season is that Mettenberger has more support surrounding him than either of the two prospective Florida quarterbacks. LSU has a real running game, which is something the Gators have lacked. LSU isn’t breaking in a new offensive coordinator, either, while Florida is on its third one in three seasons. And as much as an Alabama fan might sniff at Mett’s prospects against a Saban defense, it’s worth noting that LSU and ‘Bama split their two games last season with the very quarterbacks he derides. Florida, however, couldn’t win a game last year that Brantley didn’t start.
But I also think that means Miles has the luxury of playing it close to the vest with his new quarterback. That’s something Muschamp probably doesn’t share. So the risk/reward ratio is bigger at Florida. If the Gators do strike it rich, they’re likely to get a lot more production, because they’ll need it more.
All three quarterbacks were highly rated coming out of high school and all three come into this season with little relevant experience. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them are ready to blossom. Or in Mettenberger’s case, whether that’s even needed.