Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, shown here warming up before a 2009 game with Aaron Murray looking on, now is the third-string quarterback for the LSU Tigers.UGA photo/Dale Zanine
ATHENS, Ga. — No player at Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game will be more familiar with both teams than LSU third-string quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger enrolled at Georgia in January 2009 along with Aaron Murray, and the two redshirted that season before competing for the starting job in the spring of 2010. In a span of three months, however, Mettenberger was arrested outside a South Georgia bar, dismissed by Bulldogs coach Mark Richt and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual battery.
The 6-foot-5, 222-pounder transferred to Butler Community College in Kansas and led the Grizzlies to an 11-1 record last season before signing with LSU.
"They might be picking his brain," Richt said. "There is so much that you can get on film nowadays, so I don't know how much more he could add to it. We have also gone to a no-huddle since Zach left, and we have code names and hand signals that he has no idea about. I don't think it will be a factor, but it could be."
Mettenberger threw for 2,678 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions at Butler, and he has completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in five games with the Tigers. He grew up right outside Athens in Watkinsville and came home to visit Murray and other former teammates this past summer.
"We were all hanging out with him, and we were all joking," Murray said. "We were saying, 'We'll see you in Atlanta at the end of the season,' so it came true."
Mettenberger has not been available to the media this week.
Georgia is the eighth Top 25 team LSU has faced this season, with the Tigers already having set a school record with seven wins against ranked foes.
"I've always heard it said that you only have so many of those games per season, but what's happened to us is that we started that way and have played six games on the road," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We were dead when we were getting off the plane at West Virginia, and I remember walking in the stadium and it was just a live, big-time environment and a wonderful night. Everything just came to life.
"So we're used to being on the big stage, and I think our guys translate the glare of the lights to making plays in the game. They did it against Oregon in Dallas and have really done it right on through, including Alabama at Alabama."
The Bulldogs put on pads Monday through Thursday of last week, with the starting defense having to tackle the scout-team offense that was simulating Georgia Tech's triple-option.
Georgia has gone back to its normal routine this week, working in shorts Monday and making Tuesday the only day in pads. There was no tackling in Tuesday's workout.
"It's too late in the season," Richt said, "and by now you either know how to tackle or you don't."
Odds and ends
With SEC title games, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff and Chick-fil-A Bowls, LSU has compiled an 8-1 record at the Georgia Dome, with the lone loss coming against Georgia in the 2005 league championship game. ... Neither Bulldogs starting defensive end DeAngelo Tyson nor former starting tailback Richard Samuel practiced Tuesday because of ankle injuries. ... LSU has spent 10 weeks at No. 1, which is the longest single-season streak in school history. ... Richt at the opening of his news conference: "We could have been out recruiting today but we're here instead, which is a good thing." ... Bulldogs guard Dallas Lee, who broke his leg against Florida, got some scout-team work Tuesday and has an outside chance of playing Saturday.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...