New offense passes first test

It's no longer just a discussion topic. Saturday we got to see the new LSU offense with our own eyes, and the Tigers undoubtedly passed the test. Behind a successful passing attack led by Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, there's plenty of reason for optimism in the Cam Cameron era.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Call it the Cam Cameron effect. Call it chemistry or a more polished, more veteran Zach Mettenberger.

But what transpired Saturday in LSU's 37-27 win against TCU at AT&T Stadium was the culmination of months of speculation. Since Cameron arrived in February, the debate has raged on as to how different the once-perpetually inept offense would actually be.

We got our answer with 448 yards of total offense, and a Mettenberger-led passing attack that converted eight third downs through the air.

"Those were the major differences," said LSU coach Les Miles. "We're throwing the ball for bigger plays. We're able to convert on third downs. That's one of the real successes of the offense at this point."

It all started with LSU's senior signal caller, who only completed 50 percent of his passes but avoided the costly mistakes and overthrows that plagued his 2012 campaign. He finished with 251 yards passing and a late touchdown to Jarvis Landry that sealed the win.

Mettenberger showed more confidence Saturday than he did through most of his junior season. He provided those glimpses into the potential fans have craved to see since his debut.

"He's more himself," said Odell Beckham, who led the charge with 118 receiving yards. "He feels good. He knows he's going to make some amazing plays, and I'm looking forward to seeing it."

Mettenberger relied heavily on his junior receivers. Beckham and Landry combined for 13 of his 16 completions and 227 of his 251 passing yards. For two guys that accepted the brunt of the responsibility for the offense's troubles a year ago, Saturday served as a day of redemption.

For Beckham, his night started with a pair of big plays. He caught consecutive passes late in the first quarter, one for 26 yards and the next a 44-yard bomb that put the Tigers seven yards from the end zone.

And aside from one egregious drop in the second quarter, Beckham called Saturday a "great start" for the Cameron era at LSU.

"Those are the kinds of catches that are expected of us this year," Beckham said. "And they will be made. But that's a great start for us. It's exactly everything we've been hoping for."

Landry shared similar sentiments, serving as Mettenberger's favorite target as he reeled in a team-high eight receptions.

"It shows the kind of chemistry we have," Landry said. "It's the trust that we've built with the coaching staff to put the ball in our hands. We trust Zach, and we did a great job tonight."

Mettenberger had his share of doubters after last season. Unfulfilled expectations, regardless of how high they may be, create pessimism. But those thoughts never creep into Mettenberger's psyche.

He leans on his confidence, and that worked Saturday.

"I feel like I've been the same quarterback my whole life," Mettenberger said. "I've always seen myself as a very good quarterback, and hopefully I can just keep getting better from here."

And that's the direction everything must continue to go, not only for Mettenberger, but for the entire offense. With one bit of success comes the hunger for more, and it's Cameron's job to continue delivering.

Landry, Beckham, Mettenberger and the rest of this LSU offense have accepted that challenge.

"This is our bar," Landry said. "And we try to raise the bar each game."

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