A clean-shaven Zach Mettenberger greeted reporters Monday, his somewhat notorious moustache banished by the LSU quarterback in a rather superstitious attempt to breathe changes into the Tigers’ choppy offense.
“The moustache was a great look for me,” Mettenberger said, “but unfortunately we didn’t play too hot the first five games. I’m hoping to bring a different vibe to the offense and some good luck.”
An amusing but hardly constructive change going into No. 4-ranked LSU’s biggest test to date Saturday at No. 10 Florida (2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS).
Both coach and quarterback said more meaningful alterations are at hand to try to rehabilitate an offense that has committed only two fewer turnovers in five games (eight) than it did in 14 games in 2011 (10) and ranks 93rd nationally in passing (203.2 yards per game).
“I think our quarterback play by and large has been very good,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “(But) the things that he tries to do by extending the play put him in jeopardy.”
A prime example of that was in the second quarter Saturday of LSU’s sluggish 38-22 win over Towson.
Facing second-and-15 at the Towson 40, Mettenberger’s pass protection broke down. He scrambled laterally to his left about 20 yards and had the ball stripped from behind at the LSU 45 as he tried to pass.
Towson moved 45 yards in four plays to stun LSU by taking a 9-7 lead.
“My game is definitely not running around laterally in the pocket,” said Mettenberger, who was 15 of 26 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. “I’m a north-south type of guy. But this year I’ve had to try to create plays.
“Out of frustration I guess I do it too much. I need to stick to the game plan and my abilities.”
That, Miles said, means Mettenberger getting the ball out of his hands faster.
“We are coaching that,” Miles said. “It’s coming.
“It’s very likely that he will play better and better each week.”
Copeland ‘feeling good’
Fullback J.C. Copeland left the Towson game with an apparent knee injury, but he walked past reporters waiting for interviews Monday evening at the LSU football complex and said he was “feeling good.”
Copeland was carrying a knee brace in his left hand but walked without a visible limp. As with most injured LSU players, he was not on the interview list.
Copeland’s appearance seemed to validate what Miles said at his media luncheon that the injury was not as serious as first feared.
“We’re hopeful that rehabilitation is all that it will take,” Miles said. “Just a little bit of time and we’ll get him back at the end of the week.”
Tailback Spencer Ware suffered an unspecified injury against Towson, which Miles described as “little bumps and bruises, no different than any number of guys.”
Linebacker Luke Muncie played but didn’t start Saturday, continuing to battle a stomach ailment.
Of Muncie, Miles said, “I think he might play more significant snaps this Saturday.”
ESPN picks LSU-S.Carolina
ESPN has selected the Oct. 13 LSU-South Carolina game in Tiger Stadium for telecast. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Although the game shapes up to be the biggest matchup in the SEC next week, ESPN game had first pick over CBS for Oct. 13 games.
LSU’s game at Florida this Saturday is set for a 2:30 p.m. CDT kickoff on CBS.
Here is the rest of the SEC TV schedule for Oct. 13:
- Auburn at Ole Miss, 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
- Alabama at Missouri, 2:30 p.m., CBS
- Florida at Vanderbilt, 5 p.m., ESPNU
- Kentucky at Arkansas, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net
- Tennessee at Mississippi State, 8 p.m., ESPN2
- Texas A&M verus Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, 8:15 p.m., ESPNU
The Tigers and Gators will meet Saturday for the 59th time, with Florida holding a 30-25-3 edge in the series. LSU and Florida have split the past 12 meetings, with the Tigers winning the past two, 33-29 in Gainesville in 2010 and 41-11 in Tiger Stadium last year.
Florida is LSU’s permanent opponent from the SEC East, with the two schools having played every year since 1971. The Tigers are 11-14-3 in Gainesville, Fla., and 4-3 against Florida under Miles.
LSU has won seven straight against SEC East foes the last two years, including a 42-10 win over Georgia in the 2011 SEC Championship Game.
This is the fifth time both teams go into their meeting undefeated and fourth time they are both ranked in the top 10.
LSU billboards hit Houston
LSU has placed two new billboards in the Houston area promoting the school and athletic department in advance of the Tigers’ Oct. 20 game at Texas A&M.
One billboard features LSU’s “Love Purple, Live Gold” marketing campaign. The other features images of the LSU football team and the current athletic department slogan “Stand Right Up and Roar.”
The Houston billboards are located at Highway 6 South near Briar Hills Parkway facing north and on the North Belt near the Hardy Toll Road facing east, just south of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.