Four games into his senior season, LSU quarterback Danny Etling has put up some good passing numbers.
Etling has completed 58 percent of his passes (45-of-77) with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Etling is averaging more than nine yards per pass attempt – a very high number. In games against Chattanooga and Syracuse, Etling was successful with the deep ball.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
However, Etling could do nothing through the air in the Tigers’ 37-7 loss at Mississippi State. Etling completed less than 50 percent of his passes (13-of-29) for only 137 yards. Etling didn’t average even five yards per pass attempt against the Bulldogs.
Apparently, that performance got head coach Ed Orgeron thinking about getting true freshman Myles Brennan some meaningful playing time. Early last week, Orgeron said that Brennan would get more reps in practice with the No. 1 offense prior to the Syracuse game.
Orgeron stayed true to his word and inserted Brennan into the Syracuse game in the third quarter with the outcome undecided. Brennan came into the game with LSU leading 21-10. Brennan played three series – the results being touchdown, safety, interception.
“Myles was not fazed at all by the situation,” junior center Will Clapp said. “He was a lot louder in the huddle calling plays. He showed he was ready.”
While Brennan was in the game, the Tigers watched the Orange reduce their deficit to two points at 28-26. With the game very close, Orgeron went back to Etling. LSU went on a game-clinching touchdown drive after recovering a Syracuse onsides kick.
Etling was not accustomed to going back into a game after being replaced. He indicated that he had to have the proper mental approach while standing on the sidelines.
“That was different from when I was at Purdue,” Etling said. “I went back in this time. You have to stay in rhythm and in the right mindset. You have to make sure you don’t press and try to do too much since you were taken out. You go in there and do the best you can. I was focusing only on doing my job.”
Etling got both the win and the save against Syracuse. With Etling at quarterback, the Tigers built an 11-point advantage. When he re-entered the game, Etling guided the LSU offense on a 56-yard scoring drive. The two big plays were runs – a 24-yarder by Darrel Williams and a 20-yarder by DJ Chark.
Brennan has now made appearances in the three Tigers victories. He has completed six of 11 passes for 92 yards. Brennan made a heads-up play against the Orange by dumping the ball off to a wide-open Williams when getting blitzed. That completion gained 43 yards and set up a touchdown.
Orgeron said that Etling is still LSU’s No. 1 quarterback. He also indicated that Brennan would get snaps when the Troy game is still on the line. It definitely seems that Orgeron wants Brennan as an option if Etling struggles when the Tigers go to Florida in a couple of weeks.
“Both Danny and Myles have good pocket awareness,” junior tight end Foster Moreau said. “They both go through their reads pretty well. Danny can run a little faster and Myles is a little taller.
“Danny has more touch on his throws and Myles has a stronger arm. That’s normal where the older guy has touch and the rookie can really throw it.”
According to Orgeron, offensive coordinator Matt Canada is considering simplifying what is happening when the Tigers have the ball. Etling disagrees with the opinion that the offense is too complex.
“I don’t think we have a confusing offense,” Etling said. “There are a lot of options for us. The offense can put us in a lot of good spots. We had some execution problems against Syracuse. Some guys were not doing their job.
“Syracuse’s pressure was confusing us and they were beating us up front. We made some adjustments at halftime and got things corrected. We did some different things.”
Etling replaced Brandon Harris as LSU’s starting quarterback five quarters into the 2016 season. Etling has been No. 1 ever since that time. People are wondering if Orgeron is considering making a change at quarterback down the line.
“I’m getting better,” Etling said. “There are a couple of things I need to improve on. I am feeling more comfortable. I now see how teams are taking away certain aspects of our offense.”