Time to shine – Zach Mettenberger on his senior year, his new OC and feeling under the radar

Zach Mettenberger is calm, cool and collected in late June before shooting his video spot for the pre-game announcements shown in Tiger Stadium. The senior quarterback knows the 2013 season is make-or-break for him. Pressure? He understands it. He also acknowledges that this could very well be his last season starting for a football team—ever.

But, consider this: last season, he threw for 12 touchdowns, amassing more than 2,600 yards. His completion rate was around 60%.

This year, he has a new weapon—Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, who joined the LSU staff in the off-season after coaching for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Already, the two have hit it off, with Cameron instilling the attitude of a winner into a player who in just one season had his share of stellar plays under center.

Ready doesn’t even begin to describe how Mettenberger feels about this season.

Tell me how you’re feeling about this upcoming season.
I’m really excited. I’m very optimistic about what we can achieve this year. We’re bringing back a lot of good, talented guys, a lot of core leadership that we had last year. Offensively, we’re bringing back basically everybody. I’m excited to get into the first game and get in a real game situation with Coach Cameron.

Talking with Coach Cameron, what are some of the things you’ve discussed?
We’ve got a great relationship. There are a lot of things I’ve got to change. There are things he likes to see done differently. Then, there are things that you’re just getting used to with another offensive coordinator—his pet peeves, you could say. I’ve gotten through all those. He wants me to be a more explosive player, and that’s something I’m going to try and do and be better at this year.

What are some of those pet peeves?
He just likes things done a certain way. He comes from an NFL background. Being in college, we’re more loose and laid back. There are times we don’t take things seriously just because we’ve got so many kids who are 17, 18, 19 years old and they haven’t grown up. He’s used to being around 35-year-old men who have been playing pro football for 14 seasons. When it comes to walkthroughs and being mentally into [practice], that’s one of his biggest things. That’s something that all of us have to work at.

Do you feel like there’s pressure this season?
When’s there not pressure being at LSU? You’re expected to win every game, every year. That’s something we look forward to. That’s why we came to play here at LSU.

At the same time, the team seems under the radar.
That’s fine by me. If people don’t hear about us until the last game of the season when we’re in the national championship, that’d be great. Hopefully, they’ll look at us differently after our first few games of the season.

It’s your senior season. What will this mean to you? What are you hoping to accomplish?
I hope for everything. I hope to win every game, just like any senior would want to. At the same time, I’m looking at this season as potentially my last season as a starter for a football team. I don’t know what the future holds. I’m not taking this for granted, and I’m working my tail off every day to make sure we are successful as we can be.