I don't think that it is any secret that I'm an LSU fan. There have been some similarities between the two teams. I'm personally so superstitious that on Saturdays if LSU wins, I'm convinced that the Titans will win the next day. It's crazy, I know, but these past couple of years, I've had to cling onto something.
Now, as for LSU, once upon a time, they had a solid, tough, quarterback who went by the name of Matt Flynn. This was a guy who wasn't going to blow your mind with amazing, NFL throws, and he didn't have a huge arm. However, he came through when we needed him, played pretty well, and with a great defense anchored by Glenn Dorsey, and great coaching, he was able to win a National title for LSU in 2007. He also provided me with one of my favorite moments in all of sports. I could write an entire post on that magical season alone, but I digress.
We were riding high after that. However, soon after, things started falling apart. SEC and some New York Giants fans will remember a guy named Ryan Perrilloux. I loved him. Tennessee fans will remember his solid performance in the 2007 SEC Championship game. I thought that he would provide a smooth transition at Quarterback after Flynn left. However, he couldn't stay out of trouble, made tons of stupid decisions and was dismissed from the team. For the next couple of years, LSU fans had to deal with the dreadful Jarrett Lee/ Jordan Jefferson combo. By the time the 2011 National Championship game was over, I had lost all hope in anything Quarterback related for LSU.
Why does any of this matter though? This is a website for Titans fans, and no one wants to hear about LSU's history. Well, like I said earlier, I believe that there is some relation between the two. I certainly don't have to inform people about the history of Air McNair. He was a tough, exciting quarterback, who also provided me with some of my favorite moments in football and all of sports. And just like Perrilloux, we all thought that we were going to have a smooth transition at Quarterback, in an athletic, playmaking, exciting, player named Vince Young. Just like Perrilloux, he made dumb decision after dumb decision, and didn't work hard enough to be the guy that everyone wanted him to be, and he too, was eventually kicked off of the team. Now, if things were to perfectly match, I'd be saying that Jake Locker is Jordan Jefferson in this situation. I'm not going to go there, because anyone who watched Jefferson play knows that he was just absolutely horrid. However, I can draw comparisons between the two in that going in, we knew both were projects. Also, there were times every now and then that Jefferson showed flashes.
Then came Zach Mettenberger. A guy whose mother works at the University of Georgia. He was supposed to compete with Aaron Murray for the starting job. However, he made a stupid decision as a drunk, teenage, star recruit quarterback. One second, he was the big man on the campus that he always wanted to be the star Quarterback for, and the next, he's at a random Community College in Kansas. I'll admit it, I was saying a lot of the same things that you guys are now and making the same jokes when the incidents took place. Georgia is a competitor in the SEC, so seeing their supposed "star" quarterback screw up and get kicked out was worthy of some pot shots. And then Les Miles took a shot on this kid. LSU was so desperate at quarterback. After seeing enough Jordan Jefferson for one lifetime, I remember thinking, finally a "REAL" quarterback. He was a traditional, drop back passer with a cannon. He sat for a year while Jefferson and Lee continued to stink up the joint for another year. I was screaming for Mettenberger to get a shot, but it didn't come until the next year.
Mettenberger was decent in 2012. I could tell that he had some potential, but he wasn't lighting it up by any means. To be fair, it was pretty much his first year of college football, and he got thrown into tough SEC competition with an LSU team that was not close to as good as they were in previous years, and he also had a poor offensive coordinator. In hindsight, he was behind the 8 ball. I wanted and thought I deserved some great quarterback play after what I'd endured over the past few years, so to be honest, I was pretty disappointed at first. But then came the Alabama game. Here's a guy who was disappointing up until this point, but came in and completely lit it up. He put together an extremely tough, gritty, performance, and finally looked like the "real" quarterback that we had all been begging for. He was standing tough in the pocket, getting beaten up and still throwing darts against the number 1 team in the Nation, and eventual National Champions. LSU lost a heart breaker at the last second that night in Baton Rouge against their biggest rival, but Mettenberger earned a ton of respect from his teammates, coaches, and LSU fans. This was the turning point.
Cam Cameron came to LSU the next year after being fired by some team in Baltimore. I had a feeling that this was going to be a great match from the beginning. The season started, and Mett looked like a new man. He was tearing it up right from the beginning in week 1 against TCU. As each game went on, I just loved seeing Mett deliver strike after strike. It was so awesome not having to cringe and be nervous whenever a Quarterback would drop back to pass. There was a feeling of excitement and optimism every time he'd drop back, which is something I haven't felt as a football fan overall in very, very long time. I loved it. It could be 3rd and 99 and I would have had the confidence that Mettenberger would convert. Every 3rd and long was a reason for optimism because Mett was just money on 3rd down, especially 3rd and long. I'm sure Georgia fans remember his 3rd and 22 conversion late in the 4th, deep in their own territory, that led to a go ahead touchdown by the Tigers. Not to mention that this guy had one of the most beautiful deep balls I have ever seen. There was nothing like seeing that play action pass when Mett would go deep. I swear he'd hit it almost every time. I also loved his toughness. There were so many times where he would stand in the pocket and take one to the chin while delivering a strike. This was one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life. One moment that sticks out to me is when LSU was getting embarrassed by Alabama. The game was pretty much over, but Mett was still giving his all. He got sacked 4 straight times, and eventually was a little shaken up. He refused getting helped up by any teammate, crawled, and eventually walked off like a man. You just had to respect the guy. Even Mettenberger's last pass as an LSU Tiger was when he was standing right in the face of the rush, completing a deep pass, while his knee was torn to shreds. It was devastating because you knew immediately that it was over. A guy like Mettenberger who fought his way all the way back up to the top, earning the respect of everybody, did not deserve to blow out his knee on his Senior day, at his last game in Baton Rouge. But do you want to know what the team captain did? He led from the bench. This was not the same stupid, drunk teenager at the bar. This was a leader of men. A guy who knew what it took to be a quarterback and a champion. Backup quarterback Anthony Jennings went on to complete the game winning touchdown on a bomb. When the team was signing the fight song afterwards, Mett could not hold back his tears. It was such an emotional time for me as a fan, so I couldn't even imagine what he was thinking. I hated the fact that things ended like they did for him, but seeing the pure emotion from Mett, and seeing how he is, and will always be LSU's quarterback, and how much he'd bought in, I don't know if there was a moment in any sport that I could put over it.
After experiencing the Mett Show, I knew that I'd forever love and respect the guy. Quarterback was so hopeless for LSU, and he completely renewed my faith. Quarterback has also been a very hopeless place for us since McNair left, let's be honest. Mett is starting from rock bottom yet again--a 6th round pick, coming off a knee injury, with everyone questioning his character. Can he renew all Titans fans faith in the quarterback position? I cannot answer that question. I can't predict the future. But one thing I do know is that he will do whatever it takes, and for his years as a Tiger, I will forever thank him.