Offensive improvement key for LSU in 2013

AP Photo/John Raoux

LSU's success will be contingent on Zach Mettenberger stepping up in 2013.With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarks on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools over the next two weeks. Today we take a trip to check out the LSU Tigers.

Since Les Miles took over as head coach prior to the 2005 season, LSU has been among the winningest programs in the country. The Tigers’ 85 wins under Les Miles are more than any school from a BCS-AQ conference.

Most Wins in FBS Since 2005

But LSU’s 2012 season lost some momentum before it even got started when 2011 Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team in August.

The Tigers lost to Florida and Alabama during the regular season, failing to hold leads in each game. In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it was a similar scenario as LSU was outscored 12-0 by Clemson in fourth quarter and lost 25-24.

Looking ahead to 2013

LSU took a bigger hit in terms of underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft than any other school. Eleven Tigers have declared in the hopes of starting their pro careers.

Among the big returnees is quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Former Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron accepted the same position at LSU with hopes of making the offense more dynamic.

In the three seasons in which LSU made the BCS Championship Game (2003, ’07, ’11), the team averaged 36.1 points. In all other seasons since 2003, the Tigers averaged 29.6 points, including 29.8 last season.

On the defensive side, ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery declared for the NFL draft. They were two of the reasons that LSU was able to rush four instead of five and regularly drop seven into pass coverage.

When rushing four, Mingo and Montgomery combined for 37 of the Tigers’ 71 quarterback hurries and 10 sacks, and LSU allowed only seven touchdown passes in 348 attempts.

They said it

"We'll have a different view of the quarterback position now. It will enable us to throw the football more effectively. We'll throw the football down the field more efficiently."

-- Les Miles (looking ahead to 2012 season)

LSU Throws of 15+ Yards
SEC Games, Last 2 Season

Mettenberger struggled throwing downfield in conference play last season.

He completed less than 33 percent of his passes of 15 yards or longer against SEC opponents and was less efficient than the duo of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee in 2011.