Hold Off On Mettenberger Revival Stories For Now

Matthew Stockman

LSU's quarterback had a superlative game against Alabama, but let's wait and see on whether he's turned the corner.

This afternoon, ESPN's stat blog put out a post titled, "Has Mettenberger turned the corner?" detailing how well Zach Mettenberger played against Alabama. In particular, it highlights how well he played in the second half:

[I]n the biggest game of his young career Mettenberger rose to the occasion. After completing just 46.2 percent of his passes in his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 24 of 35 passes (68.6 percent) for a career-high 298 yards. He was especially strong in the second half, going 14-of-17 for 206 yards. It had been 31 games since the last time a quarterback threw for 200 yards in a half against Alabama's defense.

The question going forward is whether Mettenberger’s play in the second half is a trend or a fluke.

It then goes on to talk some more specifics on the performance and why it might not be a fluke. Go read it if it interests you.

Call me a curmudgeon if you want, but it takes more than one great half, even against Alabama, for me to declare that a player has snapped out of a funk. For one thing, Mettenberger's first half was not stellar. He was 10/18 for 92 yards (5.11 per attempt) with no picks or touchdowns. That line comes out to a 98.49 passing efficiency. It's better than he projected to do beforehand, but not by much.

All right, but what about that second half? Again, he was 14/17 for 203 yards (12.12 per attempt) with a touchdown and no INTs. That line comes out to a 203.55 passing efficiency. For one half, at least, Mettenberger was way ahead of the vaunted Bama defense.

You'd be surprised what a player can do in just one half against the Tide, though. It's not quite as good, but how does 11/16 for 190 yards (11.88 per attempt) with a touchdown and a pick (176.63 passing efficiency) sound? Well, that was turned in by Florida's John Brantley from just last fall. Yes, that John Brantley. Did that mean he turned the corner? In a word, no.

It certainly is possible that having a good half where everything is clicking was just the thing that Mettenberger needed to get going for the rest of the year. It's also possible that it was just an artifact of the random chance that rules over football more than we tend to realize. One good game could be a fluke. Two could be a coincidence. Let's wait until he has three good ones in a row before we call it a trend.

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