Chris Graythen/Getty Images
LSU quarterback Danny Etling

Bayou Bengal Briefing: Will any LSU football starters lose their jobs?

Nick Suss

BATON ROUGE, La. — I’m not going to talk down to you, LSU football fans. You read that headline and you saw the photo. You’re a smart bunch. You know I’m about to talk LSU’s quarterback competition.

But that’s not all I want to talk about today.

Every year, one or two guys on every team seem to lose their starting jobs between January and September, often to someone who was already on the team. Sure, freshmen can come in and earn starting spots. But you’re just as likely to see a player already in the program rise up and challenge for playing time.

So with that in mind, here are three LSU positions where I think the incumbent starter might need to watch his back.

The obvious one: QB Danny Etling

lsu football-danny etling

Should Danny Etling be concerned? I don’t think so. It’s not like LSU hired Chip Kelly or Paul Johnson to run the offense. Matt Canada has succeeded with quarterbacks similar to Etling, so Etling won’t have to change his style of play to fit what Canada wants from him.

Will there be challenges? Of course. Brandon Harris wants to start. Lindsey Scott wants to start. Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse and Myles Brennan want to start. It’ll be a hard fight. That’s a lot of people competing for one place on a depth chart.

Chances LSU will make a change: 33 percent

The one where LSU should find a way to play both: NT Greg Gilmore

In his first year as a full-time starter, junior nose tackle Greg Gilmore showed up, making 34 tackles and one sack and batting down one pass. But Gilmore’s backup — freshman Ed Alexander — played equally well if you adjust for playing time, making at least one tackle in limited reps in nine of LSU’s last 11 games.

Given that LSU is losing Lewis Neal and Davon Godchaux this offseason, there might be room for the Tigers to play both at the same time, but that would call for either the 333-pound Alexander or the 308-pound Gilmore to slim down enough to play on the outside.

It’ll be tough to manage in a base 3-4 set, but it would serve LSU well.

Chances LSU will make a change: 25 percent

The one where LSU can’t make up its mind: Left and right tackle

K.J. Malone, Toby Weathersby and Maea Teuhema will all return to LSU in 2017. LSU already rotates those three players between the two positions as is, so it’ll be hard for any one player to lose a job, given that he already shares it with two brother-linemen.

But I think this will be the most interesting position to watch moving forward regardless. Quarterback play is fluid and based on style. And two defensive linemen can easily be rotated. But it’s hard to have a revolving door at left tackle and be successful.

So do I think LSU is going to make a change? That’s hard to say. But I don’t think rotating three tackles across two spots will be sustainable.

Chances LSU will make a change: 50 percent

Speaking of quarterbacks…

In case you haven’t noticed, most people think quarterback play is pretty important. And, on the LSU football team, that sort of play has been lacking for the last three years, and arguably longer than that.

But does LSU really need to force a style change?

jalen-hurts-by-chris-kirschner-2

Ed Orgeron has spoken a lot about wanting a dual-threat passer. The gist of his argument is that teams need to evolve with the times, and I completely agree with that argument, especially after watching Deshaun Watson and Jalen Hurts lead their teams to National Championship berths this year.

But let’s not conflate variables here. Alabama and Clemson also both have top 10 defenses by scoring and yardage allowed. The same can be said of Ohio State, another team led by a dual-threat quarterback that qualified for the college football playoff.

Clemson and Alabama were also among the seven FBS teams that limited opponents to converting 30 percent or fewer of their third downs. They also ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the country in sacks. And they forced the most and third-most punts per game.

If you want to beat the best, you have to copy the best. I get it. But these teams aren’t winning because they have dual-threat quarterbacks. They’re winning because they have dual-threat quarterbacks and really good teams around those quarterbacks.

So should LSU switch to a dual-threat quarterback? By all means. Do what’s best for the team. But don’t pretend that’ll make you Clemson or Alabama. There’s a lot more going on at those schools than a couple of read options.

On the 12th day of Christmas…

We’ve finally made it, LSU football fans.

Over the last 12 days, we’ve celebrated each of the 12 days of Christmas, but with an LSU football flare. Today, as we celebrate the last day of Christmas and give out our last gifts, we’re going to do the whole thing right. In song. But before we get to the song, let’s unwrap our last presents.

On the 12th day of Christmas, it’s customary to give your true love 12 drummers drumming. But, with all due respect to the LSU marching band, I think the LSU football team has heard enough drumming. It doesn’t need 12 more folks banging in their ears.

So let’s give the team what they — and all of the fans — want. 12 games a-coming. September can’t come soon enough.

Want to catch up with all 12 Days of LSU Football Christmas?? Here’s my singing the full song. Enjoy it.

ICYMI

Need to read some other stuff about LSU football to get my angelic vocals out of your head? Here’s some LSU news and tibdits you might enjoy giving a read.

Three things: LSU basketball

LSU beat Missouri last night in hoops. This isn’t the most joyous occasion. Missouri is a pretty bad team. But here are three takeaways I got from watching the game.

Thing 1: Everyone is going to try to shoot 3s versus LSU

Missouri is a bad 3-point shooting team. It came into last night’s game averaging 5.7 made 3-pointers per game. But that didn’t stop Mizzou players from launching 27 3-point attempts in a game they led for almost as long as LSU.

This is LSU’s weakness. Perimeter defense is a struggle. And teams better than Missouri have exploited and will continue to exploit that.

Thing 2: LSU’s paint presence was fine without Craig Victor

After dismissing starting forward Craig Victor from the team, LSU looked to be in a bit of a down-low downfall. But the Tigers outscored the other Tigers 46-30 in the paint Wednesday, representing more than the difference in the contest.

Aaron Epps and Wayde Sims combined to score 21 points and grab 12 rebounds, on top of Duop Reath’s nine and four before he fouled out.

Thing 3: LSU really doesn’t like first halves

If college basketball games were played in 20 minutes instead of 40, LSU would be in dire straits. Last night was the fourth time LSU trailed at halftime but came back to win a game. The Tigers have nine wins. Almost half of their wins have been second-half comebacks.

Call that resiliency or call that unsustainable, whatever it is, it’s a cool stat.

LSU baseball has news!

LSU baseball season is only a little over a month away. And coach Paul Mainieri topped off his coaching staff yesterday.

Pitching coach Alan Dunn has been promoted to associate head coach and former Tigers relief pitcher Nate Fury has signed on as LSU’s coordinator of baseball operations. Fury competed on LSU’s 2013 squad that lost to the eventually national champions UCLA in the College World Series.

Arbitrary Analysis, part 4

To commemorate the beginning of 2017, I’ve been using the Bayou Bengal Briefing this week to countdown my top five pop culture artifacts with the number 17 in them. All week we’ve alternated from music to movies to music. So today, we’re going back to movies. And yes, we’re talking about another movie about a 17-year old. But this one is actually good.

No. 2: The Edge of Seventeen

Yesterday, we talked about a song titled “Edge of Seventeen.” Today, we’re talking about a movie of the same title.

If you follow me on the tweets (@nicksuss, shameless plug), you might already know this was my favorite movie of 2016. And I might be the only one saying this, given that it was shamefully the 150th highest grossing movie of the year. That’s behind such terrible films as Nine Lives and Norm of the North.

But this movie really was spectacular. Hailee Steinfeld and Hayden Szeto carried the film as a believable awkward high school pairing, Brody Jenner knocked a role out of the park for the second time in 2016 and Woody Harrelson is, well, Woody Harrelson.

I know you haven’t seen this movie. I can’t endorse it any more. If you like movies like The Breakfast Club, Clueless and American Pie, or if you just had an awkward high school experience and want to know that you weren’t alone, check this out as soon as it comes out on demand.

I know I will.