LSU Football: Tigers' Passing Game Must Improve in 2013

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 28, 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 10:  Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers throws a pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The score was tied 7-7 early on in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger dropped back, stepped up in the pocket and fired a laser pass into the hands of Jarvis Landry to give the Tigers a 13-7 lead over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Two possessions later, the Tigers got the ball back with just over a minute remaining and a 14-13 lead. Mettenberger was attempting to close out with half with a score and take a eight-point lead into the half. As the Tigers approached mid-field, Mettenberger dropped back and fired another pass, this one intercepted by Clemson, putting an end to LSU's potential scoring drive right before the half.

Welcome to LSU's passing game.

At times, it can look like one of the best vertical passing attacks in the country. At other times, it can make LSU fans cringe in disgust.

But heading into the 2013 college football season, the hope is that this offense can put those mistakes behind it and develop a much more consistent and effective passing attack.

Of course, a lot of this lies on the shoulders of senior-to-be quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

With a full year of starting experience now under his belt, a lot is expected of Mettenberger this upcoming season. He has developed great chemistry with his starting receivers, Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., and of course he has the luxury of handing the ball off to one of the most talented and deepest backfields in the country.

But truth be told, you can't rely on that running game at all times.

There are several games on the Tigers' 2013 schedule that Mettenberger is going to have to take into his own hands.

Just this past season, Mettenberger and the Tigers offense averaged just under 30 points per game, which is certainly respectable. However, this statistic was partially padded with four non-conference games.

That 30 points-per-game average dropped to just 22.5 points per game in SEC play.

This is an offense that ranked just outside of the top 50 in the nation in rushing, averaging 174 yards per contest. On the other hand, the passing game ranked 94th in Division I football, putting up an average of 200 yards per game through the air.

If the Tigers are going to compete for both an SEC title and a national championship in 2013, this passing offense is going to have to improve, no doubt about it.

Experience will certainly help with that as Mettenberger, Landry and Beckham Jr. all have a full year of starting experience under their belt now.

But will we see the results on the field?

Only time will tell.