QB Zach Mettenberger this season morphed into everything LSU fans hoped he would be last season. The senior’s spectacular play spanned the majority of the first half of the season. He played especially well in a loss at Georgia with his lone average game coming last week against Florida, hands-down the best pass defense in the SEC. And in that game, Mettenberger guided the Tigers to a two-score victory. Mettenberger even has his name on longer Heisman Trophy lists.
Rest of offense: A
The offensive line continues to pound opponents into submission while also giving Mettenberger time. Between the line and FB J.C. Copeland, explaining RB Jeremy Hill’s assent into the nation’s elite tailbacks becomes easy. WRs Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry give Mettenberger the best 1-2 punch in the conference and among the best in the nation.
LSU entered the season trying to dispel the notion that nobody can lose as much talent as it did in the NFL Draft last year and operate on the same level. The Tigers have fallen well short of that mark, but have still been plenty good with the exception of a catastrophic defensive effort at Georgia. Decisive wins over Auburn and Florida can be credited to the defense’s ability to hold Auburn down in the first half and the Gators all game. LB Lamin Barrow is among the league-leaders in tackles.
In Baton Rouge, undefeated is always the expectation at any stage of the season. Still, with so much transition, for LSU to be 6-1 with only a loss at Georgia marring an otherwise perfect season, it’s been a strong first half. The toughest stretch remains, with back-to-back games against Alabama and Texas A&M still on the horizon. Those two games will dictate coach Les Miles’ success in 2013.
Offensive Spotlight: RB Jeremy Hill
How good is Hill? He’s so good that Miles doesn’t bother cycling in dozens of tailbacks and giving none more than eight touches a game. If the season ended today, Hill would almost certainly be a first-team all-SEC selection with 715 yards and 9 TDs. He has accumulated those numbers despite sitting out the opener and most of the second game as punishment for his offseason arrest.
Defensive Spotlight: DT Anthony Johnson
LSU has long since grown accustomed to having a game-changing force in the middle of the defensive line. Johnson isn’t quite on that level, but he shows flashes of getting there. His 5.5 TFLs and 2 sacks lead the team. Johnson is the key for a rush defense that seemingly turned the corner against Florida, but still ranks ninth in the SEC.