Danny Etling is simply looking for the open receiver.
In stride with his first 200-plus yard night at LSU (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), Etling, a redshirt junior, connected seven of his first 14 passes to seven different pairs of hands.
Not even Etling knew how he targeted four different position groups in the first half.
"I'm just throwing to whoever is open," Etling said after LSU's 23-20 win against Mississippi State (1-2, 1-1 SEC).
But senior wide receiver Travin Dural said it sure does help LSU's offense when Etling shares the ball to various pass catchers.
"It does," he said. "Not giving the defense one person to focus on. Giving them all the skill positions, the running backs, the tight ends, the X [receiver], Y and the Z. It spreads the defense out. They won't be able to focus on one person. They'll have to focus on everybody."
In the first half, Etling, a Purdue transfer, linked with wide receivers eight times, LSU's tailbacks four times and a tight end and fullback once, respectively — accounting for a 14-of-20, 174-yard half with one touchdown.
Etling capped Saturday night completing 19-of-30 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. Eleven of those receptions went to wide receivers, five to running backs, two to a fullback and one to a tight end.
Clearly, LSU's playbook is different with Etling under center. Right?
Against Mississippi State, LSU had passing attempts from three players, including Leonard Fournette on a halfback pass and Malachi Dupre on a reverse pass intended for Etling.
"[Offensive coordinator] Cam Cameron has a lot of things offer," wideout D.J. Chark said. "He uses it based on the defense we're playing. Whenever they put a defense out there that he feels like he can take advantage of, we definitely run into that formation and run that play."
Chark, a junior, caught the first receiving touchdown of his 14-game career on Saturday — a 37-yarder in the first quarter. He said Etling's tendency to spread the ball through the air is helping the playbook, and himself.
“Oh yes, definitely helps you get open," Chark said. "They can’t shift the coverage to your side. If you have a dominant player, like Travin [Dural] over there, and then a dominant player in Malachi, that really helps me a lot. That’s the best duo of receivers in the SEC out there. Then I can come out and it helps take pressure off of them.
"It helps a lot.”
Dural, a senior, linked Etling's recent success with his work ethic.
Les Miles echoed the sentiment, too.
"Ever since he's stepped on campus, he's been learning the offense," Dural said. "You can tell he's been ready for this moment."
"He likes to work hard," Miles said. "More than anything, you have to tell him to come off of the field."