"I just feel like I don't ever want to leave a stone unturned."
LSU quarterback Danny Etling said Monday afternoon that his work ethic is natural and that he's always prepared to be the starter, which means nothing has changed for the junior outside of actually playing on gamedays.
At Purdue, Etling started as a true freshman before being replaced in his sophomore season, but he said that time he was a different player — one that pressed and put too much pressure on himself. That obsession to look under every stone, actually hurt his game.
"I think my problems in the past was that I was working too hard then once you get to the play, you tighten up and don't want to mess up. Now you just study film and see it as what it is and that's football."
Etling's work ethic is obvious to his teammates. Tight end Foster Moreau said even though the team has players like Ethan Pocic, Leonard Fournette and others that work hard, it's the extra work that sets Etling and those players apart. Moreau said Etling is a straight-A student, stays after practice, goes to treatment and watches more film than most.
"He just works harder than you can ever imagine. You could talk about guys with serious work ethic," Moreau said. "A bunch of different guys do as much as they can to win a national championship. All those plays that Leonard makes or Danny makes or Pocic makes, it's just from how hard they work."
Part of that is staying focused on the work left to do, which includes not having a Twitter page and redoing everything he missed on in practice, wide receiver Travin Dural said.
"Social media isn't for everyone. If I was a quarterback, I wouldn't like to have one. I don't think he's too concerned about having a Twitter page," Dural said. "He's a perfectionist. He stays after practice and throws every route he missed in practice."
Moreau says Etling is a part of a team Madden league, but has simulated a lot of his games he should play. That's okay as Etling is often one of the few players staying after and working extra.
"He has actual things to do, like you know, prepare for games."
Etling and Dural have a solid rapport from scout team last year and Etling's athleticism is surprising people too.
"I wouldn't say he's sneaky athletic. He's athletic. During sprints, he keeps up with the receivers for a little bit. That kind of shocked me. As he scrambles around, he's a lot more athletic than he thinks," the senior wide receiver said.
That athleticism has been key for Etling, who has slid around the pocket and made some plays with his feet too. Linebacker Arden Key said that and his toughness add to what he brings.
"Danny can make guys miss. I've seen guys have a kill shot on him, but he stepped up like nothing happened and let it rip," the SEC sack leader said.
Defensive end Lewis Neal said the comfort level his teammates have with him stems from the example he sets with his work ethic.
"Danny is a great guy. Ever since he's been here, I've always seen him by himself doing extra," Neal said. "That's what I like about him. He's always doing extra to try to do whatever he has to do to get better. I used to see him throw routes to walk-ons. That's how I knew. That's what you've got to do. That's a good look for him."
Etling's calm and cool, yet competitive nature has been a big deal for the LSU offense, which has spread the ball around more with Etling, but has yet to put together a full 60 minutes.
What does all this work mean for LSU? Well, following the team's loss to Wisconsin, which Neal said the team is better for it.
"It opened your eyes real fast. It brought focus and making people stay on their game. Now, it's going to be every game with process and just keep getting better."
With Etling under center, it'll be a game-by-game improvement for the offense. Something that Etling will lead the only way he knows how, by getting those extra throws in, by watching more film and keeping his focus on what he can control.
That's what his teammates expect now, but that's what Etling demands from himself.