Mettenberger's interceptions prove costly

Zach Mettenberger was far from his usual self Saturday at Ole Miss. The senior quarterback threw three first-half interceptions that put the Tigers in an early hole they couldn't quite climb out of.

OXFORD, Miss. — LSU's quarterback on Saturday looked like Zach Mettenberger. He walked like Mettenberger, talked like Mettenberger and even wore a No. 8 jersey.

But the guy who threw three first-half interceptions didn't resemble the version of Mettenberger that LSU fans have come to cherish this season. That Mettenberger had thrown for 1,890 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games.

This Mettenberger was sacked three times and didn't throw a touchdown pass until 3:19 remained in the game.

"I felt like I was really prepared for this game," Mettenberger said. "I did some good things tonight, but overall, I played pretty crappy."

Mettenberger at least accepted the blame for his poor decision-making on the three interceptions. Though his coach and teammates chalked it up as a team loss, Mettenberger didn't shy away from the simple explanation.

"They were just bad throws," he said.

Bad throws. Worse decisions.

On all three interceptions, Mettenberger tried to hit Odell Beckham deep. All three were into double coverage, and all three ended up in Rebel hands.

"Those are throws he should not have taken," said LSU coach Les Miles. "The route had plenty of options. Throw a completion. That's all you have to do at that point. He didn't have to force the ball downfield."

Miles went on to say the team was "over-aggressive" early in the game. The Tigers likely could have pounded an injury-riddled Ole Miss defense on the ground and minimized the risk.

But that's not the 2013 Tigers' M.O.

This has been a team that prides itself on its passing attack. So many times that deep ball to Beckham has resulted in six.

That just wasn't the case Saturday.

"We had a good gameplan going in, we just failed to execute," Mettenberger said. "You can't turn the ball over and expect to win. This game's on me."

There's something to be said for the way Mettenberger rebounded in the second half. Mettenberger completed 12-of-22 passes in the final two quarters for 172 yards, helping the Tigers overcome a 17-point deficit to force a late tie.

But that's not how this game will be remembered. The image of three interceptions, two in the end zone, will remain etched in LSU fans' minds for quite some time.

Mettenberger said after the game he has to prove himself all over again. He'll get an opportunity next week against Furman before that long-awaited date with Alabama on Nov. 9.

"Really, I just need to play better from here on out," Mettenberger said.

Give us your take on Mettenberger's performance

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