Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele knows all about LSU starting quarterback Danny Etling heading into this week’s game with the Auburn Tigers, but not so much about his fit into the current offense. Last season in the same role with the Bengal Tigers, Steele got to see Etling every day when he ran the scout team offense in practice.
Now it’s a different story with Etling taking over for Brandon Harris as LSU’s starting quarterback. Completing 25-44 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns with one interceptions this season, Etling has settled into his role and Coach Les Miles said so far they’re pleased with how he’s played, particularly in his first start last weekend.
“Danny Etling has done a great job of throwing the ball around and doing the things we ask him to do,” Miles said. “Seven players caught passes, three wide receivers, two fullbacks and two tight ends.”
A former Purdue quarterback along with Florida’s starter this week Austin Appleby, Etling is a 6-1, 215-pounder that started 12 games his first two seasons for the Boilermakers. Completing 238-429 passes for 2,490 yards, Etling had 16 touchdowns with 12 interceptions playing in the Big 10.
Last week Etling completed 19-30 passes in a 23-20 win over Mississippi State. It was the most pass attempts in an LSU win since the season opener in 2013. Miles said believing in Etling is one key as is his ability to extend plays with his athleticism.
“Danny is one of the more athletic guys that we have on our team,” Miles said. “In what was our coaches workouts, which was the workout time sometime after recruiting and just before we go to spring ball, he was one of the guys that dominated the workouts really from start to finish. He has athleticism, good feet, ability to move, has a knack for recognizing when somebody comes in there and he’s got to move out. He’s doing a really good job of extending plays and the receivers that are out on routes are really looking for the Danny Etling style of throw. I think it’s great for our offense and it allows for ad-lib plays that make first downs.”
Making his first road start in the SEC, Etling’s job will be much different this week at Auburn than playing in front of the home crowd at Tiger Stadium. Miles said because of that it’s important that he makes sure everyone is on the same page come Saturday night.
“I think Danny is going to be a mature guy and he understands what he’s supposed to do,” Miles said. “The best thing to do in road games is to connect with your teammates and connect with your coaches to make sure you’re communicating with your partners, your teammates, and make sure you’re doing your job.”