Open week gives Zach Mettenberger time to rest after Alabama pounding

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is slow to get up after the Tigers' final offensive play in last week's 38-17 loss at Alabama. Offensive lineman was forced into the quarterback on the play, falling onto his foot. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is slow to get up after the Tigers' final offensive play in last week's 38-17 loss at Alabama. Offensive lineman was forced into the quarterback on the play, falling onto his foot.

LSU’s open week comes at a good time for Zach Mettenberger, who felt the sting of Alabama’s puss rush last week

Zach Mettenberger raced off the field as time expired on LSU’s 38-17 loss to No. 1 Alabama last Saturday looking as healthy as one could.

He wasn’t.

The LSU quarterback sprained his right ankle in the closing minutes of the loss when left tackle La’el Collins was driven into the QB, falling on his right foot.

The injury is minor, though. Mettenberger said he practiced with the team Tuesday and should be available when No. 18 LSU (7-3, 3-3 SEC) hosts No. 10 Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2) on Nov. 23.

Mettenberger and his teammates have an open week to recover from a physical beatdown in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Mettenberger was sacked on LSU’s final three offensive plays.

On the final one, the QB was crushed under the 315-pound Collins, slowly rising from the field and limping off.

“It was tough,” Mettenberger said Tuesday after practice. “Definitely not the way we wanted the game to go. Definitely not the way we wanted it to end. Tough situation.”

The late pressure wasn’t limited to the final series. Mettenberger passed for just 68 yards in the final two quarters while under duress.

With LSU trailing for much of the second half, the Tide crashed the LSU O-line.

“They did a good job of getting a lot of pressure on Zach and not giving him time to throw the ball,” receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “There was a lot of times we were open down field, but you get flushed out the pocket or the pocket collapses and you don’t have all the time you’d like to have to make the throws.”

The reasons behind the O-line collapse? Miscommunication, center Elliott Porter said, “poor play,” said right guard Trai Turner.

The line had other gaffes, too. The fumbled snap from Porter to Mettenberger in the first quarter was miscommunication between left guard Vadal Alexander and the QB. Alexander signaled to Porter to snap the ball by tapping his thigh, though Mettenberger wasn’t ready.

Les Miles says Brandon Harris is ‘future’

LSU coach Les Miles, during an unusual November in-home visit, called Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris “kind of a future for us,” the Shreveport Times reported Monday.

Harris, a four-star rated prospect, signed an Institutional Financial Aid Agreement last week to play for the Tigers, using a new clarification to an old NCAA policy.

The new clarification — which binds LSU to Harris and not Harris to the school — gives high school seniors who are on schedule to graduate at mid-year and who plan to enroll in college in spring an opportunity to sign early.

Coaches can then have access to these high school senior signees during what normally is considered a quiet period, time in which coaches cannot make contact. Miles used the legislation, visiting Harris on Monday along with LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

During an interview with the Shreveport Times, Miles suggested that Harris could be the Tigers’ future at QB and would get every chance to win the job in the spring.

“Tremendous quarterback,” Miles said. “Kind of a future for us.”

There isn’t necessarily an heir apparent to Mettenberger, Miles hinted. Freshman Anthony Jennings has seen limited time.

“He’ll be in in the spring,” Miles said of Harris. “He’ll have an opportunity to compete and learn the offense. There’s not necessarily the next guy on campus. We’ll let competition make its way.”

Odell Beckham Jr. as Johnny Manziel

Beckham, LSU’s speedy return man, is mimicking Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel this week in preparation for LSU’s game against A&M.

He’s not doing a bad job of it.

“He just came up in here and tore us up a little bit,” defensive tackle Anthony Johnson said from LSU’s indoor facility. “Honestly, he gave us a great look.”

The slender wideout did his damage with his feet and arm. He threw two touchdowns against the unit, linebacker Lamin Barrow said, and had about five 360-degree escapes from would-be tacklers.

Manziel is second in the nation in total offense, averaging 392 yards a game.

Already, LSU’s defense is practicing to face the dual-threat QB. They’re doing it against a guy that might be just as good, Barrow said.

“He’s an amazing athlete so just to have him back there is probably going to be as close as we’re going to get to Johnny Football, if not better,” Barrow said.