Animated LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa oozed excitement Tuesday as he spoke about the attack he believes will include far more balance than the one the Tigers showed last season.
He was most fired up when recalling two long strikes new quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed at practice the previous day.
One pass went to Odell Beckham and the other to Jarvis Landry. Both appeared covered.
“In the past, we check it down, but Zach zipped both of those balls in there over the linebackers. They both caught the thing on the run and both were 60-yard touchdowns. We would have never thrown those balls before,” Studrawa said at LSU Media Day.
It remains to be seen whether the strong-armed Mettenberger provides an upgrade at the position manned by Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee in recent years.But Studrawa seems bent on letting his new quarterback air it out.
That’s certainly music to the ears of fans who watched LSU stumble through a forgettable loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game last season, an effort that saw Jefferson complete 11 passes for 53 yards and resulted in the Tigers crossing midfield only once.
Mettenberger gets his first shot as a Division I starter after serving a backup role in 2011 and attempting just 11 passes.
“It’s not going to be an aerial show where we throw it
70 times a game,” Studrawa said. “But we want to be balanced.”
If the Tigers can do enough in the passing game to keep defenses honest, then a talented corps of running backs led by Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard should have plenty of running room behind a veteran offensive line.
Last year, Lee went 9-0 as a starter and ranked among the SEC leaders in passer efficiency, but was benched
after throwing two interceptions in a Nov. 5 victory at Alabama and never saw a meaningful snap the rest of the season.
The Tigers went with the more versatile Jefferson down the stretch, using his running ability to finish out a 13-0 regular season.
Mettenberger won’t beat opponents with his legs, but Studrawa said the junior’s
arm will allow LSU to test defenses with a vertical passing game. He said receivers are learning not to give up on a route — even if they appear covered.
“When you’re running, keep going,” Studrawa said, “because he’s going to put that ball on you. He’s got the confidence to make those kind of throws.”
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