The dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu from the LSU football team served as a reminder for some fans of last year's suspension of quarterback Jordan Jefferson and has made some think about where the team would be without Zach Mettenberger.
Backup quarterback Stephen Rivers is a redshirt freshman. He is a much different quarterback than he was coming out of high school, partially thanks to bayou culture.
"My mom actually feels bad," Rivers joked. "She thinks she wasn't feeding me enough."
That's because the towering, 6'7" Rivers has packed on roughly 40 pounds since arriving in Baton Rouge and now weighs about 230 pounds. The younger brother of San Diego Chargers All-Pro quarterback Philip Rivers said strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffit, along with some great south Louisiana food, has bulked him up.
"Red beans and rice, stuff like that," laughed Rivers.
While Mettenberger, the new starting quarterback, is naturally garnering most of the press attention and was rivaled at LSU Media Day by newcomer Rob Bolden from Penn State, Rivers is preparing himself. Don't forget, Jarrett Lee wasn't getting much attention at last year's Media Day either.
"I know the playbook. I'm confident in my abilities and I feel the coaches and my teammates are getting the same way. I'm going to be here to help the team whenever my name is called. I don't need the reporters and cameras. I'm here to help LSU," Rivers explained.
He now knows what it's like to play in Tiger Stadium, albeit just in the annual spring game. He started for the Purple squad this past spring in front of a crowd of 33,000 and completed 6-17 passes for 55 yards. Certainly, the young Rivers was still learning against a fellow defense that spits nails.
"I was glad to get out there and have a bit of a crowd. It was good to get my feet wet for the first time. I made some mistakes that I learned from," he said.
One of those errors was testing veteran safety Eric Reid, who intercepted one of Rivers's attempts across the middle and promptly returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
"He hid behind the line a bit. He got me. Eric Reid is always trying to get a pick. He talks to us every day about throwing his way, so he can get us. I'm just glad we don't have to play against him during the season," Rivers said.
"That was my first pick six ever," Reid responded, grinning ear to ear. "I never got one in middle school, high school or college. It's funny because before the game, I joked to throw one my way. Ironically, he did."
But as Rivers said, Reid is his teammate. And, the giant passer with the buzzed head loves what he sees in LSU.
"Camp is going great. The team is looking great. We've got some special people on this team. I'm feeling more comfortable. The quarterbacks are all working together to make this a great offense and a great team," Rivers added.
He showed up in Saturday's scrimmage stats with 60 percent pass completions and nearly 17 yards per connection in a relief role for Mettenberger.
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