Mike Gegenheimer | LSU Reveille
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn didn't exactly roll out the welcome mat for LSU junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger was chased and beaten throughout the game as the Auburn defensive front consistently broke through LSU lines to put pressure on the quarterback in a low-scoring affair LSU won 12-10.
"There was some things [Mettenberger] did well and certainly there were some positions we put him in that didn't favor him," said LSU coach Les Miles. "Some guys that were supporting him did some things they shouldn't. What he showed was character and toughness, and [he] really made the plays he needed to make when it came down to crunch time."
Two first-half fumbles rattled Mettenberger early and gave an Auburn team that had been down in recent weeks much-needed momentum to contain the LSU offense.
"Being underdogs pumped them up," said LSU junior defensive end Sam Montgomery. "Never … listen to what other people say about a team, because that's talking about their heart. I expected this. It's the [Southeastern Conference], in the west division. It's tough."
Auburn held Mettenberger — making his first SEC start — to just 78 yards in the first half. LSU's lone touchdown came when junior running back Michael Ford punched in a one-yard first-quarter touchdown.
But it was the fumble deep in Auburn territory on the opening drive that set the pace for a night of miscues for an LSU offense that came into the game averaging 48.3 points and just under 500 yards of offense per game.
"I think early on the momentum shifted big time," Mettenberger said. "We were on the one-yard line, and I fumbled the snap. ... If we don't fumble on the goal line there on the first drive, we're going up seven nothing."
The shakier Mettenberger and the LSU offense played, the louder Jordan-Hare Stadium became.
"It was different," Mettenberger said. "Saw a lot of orange in the stands. We've practiced crowd noise since the first day of practice, every practice. Communication was good, it was just execution that we had some problems. … When someone's down, you have to tap them out early on."
Mettenberger's second half consisted of just five completions for 91 yards – with 33 of those yards coming off a late-game screen pass to junior running back Spencer Ware.
Mettenberger and the rest of the LSU offense was never able to establish rhythm in the game in part due to six offensive penalties in the contest.
"We reacted too much to them pushing us, and it's like they say, the ref always sees the second push," Mettenberger said. "We got a lot of penalties. That's not how we play football here, and we're going to work hard in practice to correct that."
Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier — matched up against LSU senior left tackle Josh Dworaczyk, who took over the position for the injured Chris Faulk — consistently gave Mettenberger trouble.
Lemonier broke through the LSU front lines for two sacks and one of the forced fumbles on the night.
"I'm going to have to beat up those offensive tackles some more, though, in practice to make sure they're right," Montgomery said. "... Just prepare for war. The SEC is another level."