Tigers quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and Stephen Rivers had huge passing numbers in LSU's spring game, carving up a secondary full of walk-ons to give the White team a 37-0 win over Purple on Saturday.
With three secondary starters out with injuries, Mettenberger and Rivers were throwing against a defensive backfield loaded with walk-ons.
Mettenberger completed 12 of 19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Rivers, who played in the second half, was 7-of-10 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Odell Beckham caught six passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while Jarvis Landry had six catches for 132 yards.
“The offense threw it well and we rushed it well,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “Of course, those statistics were against the second-team defense. The key statistic of the day was no injuries. It seemed to me that nobody got hurt.”
Everyone got a first opportunity Saturday of watching the Tigers offense under new coordinator Cam Cameron. However, no one saw Cameron calling plays. He left that responsibility up to each quarterback.
“It was tough out there calling plays,” Mettenberger said. “Coach Cameron allowed us to call our own plays and it was the first time I've ever done that. It was kind of a slow start to get going, but we turned it around and had a pretty good day.
Cameron “wanted to see what our thought process was. I think we've all impressed him since he's been here. He knows we know our own plays. He wanted to see where our head was on down and distance. We all managed the game pretty well.”
Miles had never let his quarterbacks call their own plays since he has become a head coach. The last time he was around such a situation occurred when Cameron and Miles were on the same Michigan staff.
Miles called the idea “tremendous.”
“I had done it before with the last being when I was with Cam,” Miles said. “It was good for all the quarterbacks. They got the pressure of making calls. It was really an interesting thought.”
Mettenberger got off to a slow start with five completions in 11 pass attempts in the first quarter when the offense was going against a stiff wind. But, he warmed up in the second quarter. Mettenberger was 7-of-8 with touchdown throws of 15 yards to tight end Dillon Gordon and 79 yards to Beckham.
“I was just trying to get going and find my rhythm,” Mettenberger said. “All of that is correctable. There were a couple of throws that I missed. I'll have to work with the receivers this summer. Overall, this spring was good and we have to keep going from here.”
Beckham and Landry were on the receiving of more than half of the Mettenberger and Rivers completions. Beckham and Landry were the top two receivers as sophomores a season ago.
“We were all backups at one point,” Beckham said. “Zach, Jarvis and I have built a chemistry and a bond. We got off to a slow start today, but the three of us got together and talked about how we were going to slow it down and pick it up. We ended up turning it around. We have to keep improving.”
Rivers completed scoring passes of 45 yards to Travin Dural and 21 yards to Beckham in the second half. The other White touchdown came on a 6-yard run by fullback J.C. Copeland.
Not to be overlooked on the offense was the output of Jeremy Hill, last season's leading rusher. On Saturday, Hill ran for 102 yards on 13 carries. He also caught four passes for 24 yards. Freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings was 8-of-21 for 98 yards passing for the Purple.
Six projected starters didn't play Saturday - offensive tackle Vadal Alexander, center Elliott Porter, defensive end Jermauria Rasco, cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins and safety Ronald Martin.