Report: Mettenberger has torn ACL, will miss bowl

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is helped off the field after injuring his knee in the second half of a game against Arkansas on Nov. 29 at Tiger Stadium. LSU came back to win 31-27. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is helped off the field after injuring his knee in the second half of a game against Arkansas on Nov. 29 at Tiger Stadium. LSU came back to win 31-27.

Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will not play in LSU’s bowl game, ESPN reported Tuesday night.

LSU could not confirm nor deny the report, team spokesman Michael Bonnette said. He said the team plans to address the issue Wednesday morning.

Mettenberger suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter in LSU’s 31-27 comeback win over Arkansas on Friday. Teary-eyed and red-faced, Mettenberger left the field on crutches after having his leg pinned under a pass-rushing defender.

Pressed for Mettenberger’s injury status Monday, LSU coach Les Miles, through a spokesman, declined to reveal the quarterback’s injury.

The torn ACL is a bitter end to the quarterback’s LSU career and further opens the door for true freshman backup Anthony Jennings.

Jennings entered the game against Arkansas and led the Tigers on a 99-yard game-winning touchdown drive, capping it with a 49-yard scoring pass to receiver Travin Dural.

Jennings, a Georgia native, is expected to start LSU’s bowl game.

Bowl news is announced Sunday. The 14th-ranked Tigers (9-3) are most likely to end up in the Cotton Bowl or Outback Bowl, but others are possible.

ACL injuries normally require surgery. Mettenberger was projected as a first- or second-round NFL draft pick before the injury.

A Watkinsville, Ga., native, Mettenberger signed at Georgia and was in a tight race for the starting quarterback gig with Aaron Murray before being kicked off the team in 2010 for a violation of team rules. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery, charges stemming from a bar incident.

He then starred at Butler Community College in Kansas for a season before transferring to LSU in 2011.

In LSU’s career record books, Mettenberger, in just two seasons as a starter, finishes fifth in touchdown passes (35) and sixth in yards (5,783). This past season was one of the best by an LSU quarterback. His 22 touchdowns, 3,082 yards and 64.9 completion percentage are all third on the school’s single-season list.

Mettenberger’s final pass came on the play in which he was injured. It was a 32-yard completion to Jarvis Landry, an underthrown ball the receiver caught with his left hand with a defender between him and the football.

Mettenberger suffered the injury when tackled while releasing the completion with 6 minutes, 35 seconds left in the win over Arkansas.

Arkansas defensive tackle Byran Jones pushed past backup center Ethan Pocic and hammered the quarterback.

Mettenberger’s left leg pinned under Jones, and the quarterback lay on the field in pain for several minutes before limping off. He was too emotional, Miles said, to speak to reporters afterward.

Pocic walked over to a wounded Mettenberger on the sideline and appeared to apologize. Pocic was in for starter Elliott Porter, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the game.

On an 8-yard completion to tight end Travis Dickson in the third quarter, Mettenberger surpassed the 3,000-yard passing mark. He’s just one of three LSU players to do that in a single season, joining Rohan Davey (3,347 in 2001) and JaMarcus Russell (3,129 in 2006).

After the Arkansas win, Miles spoke for Mettenberger.

“I gave him the instruction … there would be a lot of people in this stadium that would love to hear from you. He said, ‘Coach I’m afraid I might be too emotional.’ He said, ‘Would you tell them.’ I said I would,” Miles began.

“He enjoyed his time here tremendously,” Miles said, delivering the message. “He has grown and matured. And he is a quality man, and he has fully enjoyed his time at LSU.”