ENGSTER: Look for Zach to attack LSU record book

The hunch from this space is that Zach Mettenberger will become the third LSU quarterback to toss for three thousand yards in a season. Only Rohan Davey and JaMarcus Russell have reached the 3,000 yard plateau for a school that has produced a pair of quarterbacks who were NFL Most Valuable Players in Y.A. Tittle and Bert Jones.

With Mettenberger likely to play at least 13 times with a 14th game possible, he could average as few as 215 yards per game and reach 3,000 yards in 2013.

Looking back at the evolution of the record for most yards passing in one campaign at LSU, here is how the standard for passing yards has changed since LSU joined the SEC.

LSU Quarterback Season Season Record Passing Yardage
Young Bussey 1937 712
Y.A. Tittle 1946 780
Al Doggett 1953 822
Nelson Stokley 1967 939
Mike Hillman 1969 1,180
Bert Jones 1972 1,446
Alan Risher 1981 1,780
Alan Risher 1982 1,834
Jeff Wickersham 1983 2,542
Tommy Hodson 1989 2,655
Rohan Davey 2001 3,347

Rohan Davey’s mark has stood for a dozen seasons. It will take an average in 13 games of 258 yards per game for Mettenberger to break Davey’s school record.

With offensive strategist Cam Cameron providing new pizazz to the LSU attack, the senior field general should challenge Davey’s official numbers from 2001.

The NCAA started counting bowl games in season statistics in 2002. With his 444 yards passing against Illinois in the Sugar Bowl, Davey actually passed for 3,791 yards in the 2001 season—a robust average of 292 yards per game.

Last year, Mettenberger threw for 2,609 yards in a non-descript season. He’ll need to pass for 91 more yards per contest to surpass Davey’s postseason included passing total in 2001. That may be unreachable for the man from Georgia, but Mettenberger figures to enjoy a year that rivals more heralded Tiger predecessors when it comes to overall success at his position.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf remains a polarizing player 25 years after his LSU debut

The 2013-2014 LSU basketball season will mark 25 years since Chris Wayne Jackson came to TigerTown. The gunner from Gulfport established a freshman scoring record by averaging more than 30 points in his LSU debut.
By the time Jackson left LSU in March of 1990, he had rung up 1,854 points in two seasons. If he had stayed for two more seasons on the court and scored the same amount of points in his junior and senior years that he did as a freshman and sophomore, Jackson would have finished with an NCAA record of 3,708 points.
Instead, the NCAA record of Pete Maravich remains intact with 3,667 points in just 83 varsity games at LSU—an unbelievable average of 44.2 points per outing.

Jackson averaged 29.0 points per game in 64 college performances as he thrilled crowds in the SEC like no player since Pistol Pete. Jackson was an uncanny marksman and was the third player selected in the 1990 NBA Draft. The Denver Nuggets took a chance on the LSU guard despite his listed size of 6-1, 168 pounds.
Jackson changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf during his NBA career which produced an all-time best free throw percentage of .905. Steve Nash and Mark Price are tied for second place at .904 in much longer careers than that of Abdul-Rauf, who lasted nine seasons in the league.

Abdul-Rauf was featured prominently in the August 9 edition of the New York Times. Unfortunately, the story focused on the events that led to his downfall as a professional player.

“Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a swift and streaky Denver Nuggets guard, was in his sixth and steadiest season in 1996 when fans and news media members realized that, during the pregame national anthem, he would either stay in the locker room or stretch on the sideline.

“Asked to explain, Abdul-Rauf called the American flag a ‘symbol of oppression and tyranny.’

“I’m a Muslim first and a Muslim last,” said Abdul-Rauf…”My duty is to my creator, not to nationalistic ideology.”

The NBA suspended the guard indefinitely without pay before Abdul-Rauf conformed by standing during the anthem but praying to Allah as he did. He was essentially booed out of the league as he was never the same player.

Abdul-Rauf’s concentration slipped amid the firestorm surrounding his comments and actions. His NBA free-throw percentage before the controversy was .916. In the years after, Abdul-Rauf was .845 from the line.

His remarks were offensive, but so were the words uttered by another stellar American athlete about Muhammad Ali before their first bout in 1965. Then, it was a Christian, Floyd Patterson, who was the jerk.

“This fight is a crusade to retain the title from the Black Muslims,” Patterson said prior to entering the ring against the champion. “As a Catholic, I am fighting Clay as a patriotic duty. I am going to return the crown to America.”

Ali pounded Patterson for nine rounds and kept his title against a man who had besmirched his religion and his integrity.

Nearly five decades later, religious prejudice is as pronounced as it was when Patterson and Ali fought. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was born four years after that fight. At age 44, he remains a hated man in some places because of his Muslim faith.

LSU should invite Abdul-Rauf back to campus this season to be honored for his record-setting freshman year of a quarter-century ago. The guess is that he would stand for the national anthem if he returned to the PMAC as a conquering hero.

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Jim Engster | President, Tiger Rag

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