Remember Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill? LSU sure would love to have those guys back this season, as the exodus of talent to the NFL has certainly turned 2014 into a transition year for the offense.
But that crew has to be making LSU fans proud. All of the primary offensive skill players from last year’s team are doing work on the professional stage, launching rookie campaigns that match the level of success they enjoyed as Tigers.
Most of these guys are turning into viral stars as well, gaining fame on the Internet to boost their celebrity status on the field.
The biggest Internet craze had to do with Mettenberger’s appearance. The Tennessee Titans named Mettenberger their new starting quarterback on Oct. 23 in advance of their game against Houston. The “Mett Show” made sure to have his look ready for his first media session as NFL starter.
The hair is feathered and lethal for Sundays game cotton!!— Zach Mettenberger (@mettshow) October 23, 2014
The Internet had fun with that mustache and red headband. Comparisons were made to White Goodman from “Dodgeball” and Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite.“ Mettenberger cleaned it up a bit by gameday and showed off that gameface to his more than 23,000 Twitter followers.
That selfie turned into quite the hot button issue.
Mettenberger threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against the Texans, a 16-30 loss. He did throw a pick and was also sacked twice, getting a warm greeting from J.J. Watt.
The best defensive player in the NFL called out Mettenberger afterward for taking those selfies.
"It's just kind of a reminder, this is the National Football League, not high school," Watt told reporters after the game. "Welcome to the show."
Mettenberger has earned his place in the NFL though. In three starts, he’s completed 63 percent of his passes for 741 yards and five touchdowns with three picks. He threw for 263 yards in his Monday Night Football debut this week, nearly leading the Titans to victory before they blew a lead to Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter.
Mettenberger’s favorite targets while at LSU are having plenty of success as well.
Beckham missed the first four games of the year with injury after becoming the New York Giant’s first-round pick. He’s blown up on the scene since then, starting with the very first game of his career.
He reeled in his first NFL touchdown catch against Atlanta and popped a celebration that caught the attention of the Internet. The kids call it “The Whip.”
Beckham has been a major bright spot for a Giants team that’s lost five straight games. The former LSU star has 463 yards receiving in six games with three touchdowns.
He also has a flair for the spectacular. He had eight catches for 156 yards on Monday Night Football against Indianapolis, but it was grabs he made before the game even started that grabbed headlines.
The very next week he took to task one of the NFL’s best corners. Beckham primarily lined up against Richard Sherman when the Giants played Seattle. He hauled in seven catches for 108 yards, earning respect from one of the more vocal players in the league.
Sherman called him a “great player” after that game, and this play was the highlight.
Landry’s having plenty of success as well. He reeled in his first career touchdown on Oct. 12. Landry now has three scores, 400 yards receiving and is also averaging more than 31 yards per kickoff return.
He’s endearing himself well to the Miami Dolphins’ faithful.
And don’t forget about the running backs.
Hill has had his two best NFL games in the month of November, racking up 154 rushing yards with two scores on Nov. 2 against Jacksonville. He followed that up two weeks later back in his home state with a 152-yard game against the Saints.
But there was a game against Cleveland that gained Hill a bit of infamy. The Bengals laid an egg on a Thursday night game, losing 24-3 to the Browns. In a postgame interview, Hill was asked if Cleveland was better than previously thought.
"Oh no, not at all. They're probably worse than I thought, to be honest with you,” Hill told reporters. "They didn't do anything special to me," Hill continued. "I mean, respect to them, they won the game. But that's all I'll give them."
While those comments certainly rubbed many the wrong way, Hill backed up his talk the following week with that performance against New Orleans. By eclipsing the 150-yard mark, he combined with a former teammate to set an NFL record.
Alfred Blue — remember him? — was hampered by leg injuries throughout his senior season at LSU. But he’s back to full strength and leaving an impression on the NFL.
He replaced an injured Arian Foster as the Houston Texans’ starting running back and turned in the best game of his young career this past weekend. On the same day Hill ran for 152, Blue racked up 156 rushing yards on a franchise-record 36 carries.
The numbers put up by Blue and Hill set an NFL record.
So sure there’s a black cloud hanging over the current LSU offense. After this past weekend’s disastrous performance against Arkansas, it’s hard to look for a silver lining the rest of this season.
And while having guys like Beckham, Landry or Hill would certainly help things, they’re flying the LSU flag in the NFL, and that’s something fans can be happy about.