Fans and analysts both waited with bated breath last weekend to finally see LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger showcase his skills on a big stage. After an 18-month wait from the day of his signing into the class, it was a seminal moment to see the junior start his first game -- even against overmatched North Texas.
But there were two other sets of eyes watching with far more invested than the average fan. The two 2013 quarterbacks tabbed to be the future of the program -- Anthony Jennings (Marietta, Ga./Marrietta) and Hayden Rettig (Los Angeles/Cathedral) -- each took the opportunity to tune in and see the new-look Tigers' passing game with Mettenberger at the helm.
"They were balanced on offense and great on defense, just like everybody expects," Jennings said. "The offense looked good this weekend, but I think this week coming up it will really come around."
That seems to be the common opinion after Mettenberger's debut, where he completed 19 of 26 passes for 192 yards despite a basic gameplan for the Mean Green. But Jennings said despite the dialed-down passing attack, he was able to see glimpses of what LSU's passing game can deliver this year -- especially when Mettenberger was put under pressure by the North Texas defense.
"They threw the ball downfield and they didn't turn over the ball too much, and that's really what you want," Jennings said. "You want a guy who can stand in the pocket and take hits while delivering the ball, and that's what Zach Mettenberger did."
Of course, Jennings would likely be a bit better about escapability than the 6-foot-5 LSU starter. For Marietta so far this season, he has accrued 185 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to go with 431 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. The Blue Devils are now 1-1 on the season during a bye week, with a game against Hillgrove coming up Sept. 14.
"The ultimate goal is to win games, and it don't matter how I play I just want the team to win. But I've been playing fairly well," Jennings said. "I feel like I've left a couple opportunities out there, but those are things I can go back and look at and improve on."
With Marietta off this weekend, Jennings said he hopes to make the trip from the Atlanta area to Baton Rouge for Saturday's game against the Huskies. He plans to take his official visit Nov. 3 for the clash with Alabama.
Rettig's older brother, Chase Rettig, is the starting quarterback for Boston College this season. The Eagles were locked in the dying stages of a back-and-forth battle with Miami on Saturday night -- an eventual 41-32 loss. But the theatrics gave Hayden something more compelling to watch than the Tigers' 27-point dismissal of North Texas.
"I was watching a little bit of it, but I knew it was going to be a blowout. I saw the punt that Odell Beckham took back, and I was just like, 'All right, this game is over,' " he said. "I know Zach played pretty good, and I heard he got hit pretty hard. He got a pretty good lick, but that stuff happens."
Rettig said he'll likely be more in tune to Saturday's game against Washington, since his brother plays an FCS opponent in Maine and the Tigers' should be tested a bit more.
As excited as he might be to watch the Tigers' revamped passing game, he's having a pretty impressive season of his own. After missing the vast majority of his junior campaign with an ACL injury, Rettig has stormed back to throw for 494 yards and 10 touchdowns in two games so far this season.
"The season is going really well, I've thrown 10 touchdowns in the first two games and no interceptions," he said. "It's going good -- I think I'm going to break most of the records at our school."
If that turns out to be the case, Rettig should probably expect to get more of a push from west-coast schools. The 6-foot-3 pocket passer committed to LSU in May, while he was still rehabbing his injury. But if he continues his current form, local schools are sure to come calling.
"In the last week alone there's been a lot of calls from west coast schools," he said.
Rettig doesn't seem to be hearing it, though. The distance from California to Louisiana will likely keep him from making too many visits to campus, but Rettig's only scheduled official visit is for the LSU-Alabama game. As a west coaster, he said he's trying to get the hang of the burgeoning rivalry.
"That will be a lot of fun -- I'll learn a lot about it with some first-hand experience," he said. "The only thing I know right now -- last Friday we killed this team, and someone came up to me and said 'Roll Tide.' Even on Twitter, I'm hearing a lot of 'Roll Tide.' "
If those two teams live up to their level of expectation, that's something he'll get used to hearing.