BATON ROUGE, La. — Danny Etling didn’t know for certain that he was going to be LSU’s starting quarterback this season until a Monday meeting with coach Ed Orgeron. And even then, Orgeron tried to get Etling to bite on a play-fake before breaking the news.
“He said, ‘We have to talk about some academics,’ ” Etling recalled. “I said, ‘Academics? I’m in the first week of grad school.’ ”
With the mischief out of the way, Orgeron revealed the real reason the quarterback was in his office: He will be starting the season opener against BYU.
“It’s a tremenouds feeling and honor and I won’t let my team down,” Etling said.
Etling’s first move was to call his parents in Terre Haute, Ind.
“They know how long of a road it’s been and how difficult a journey it’s been,” said Etling, who transferred to LSU for a likely life as a backup after two rough seasons at Purdue. “It was worth it for that moment right there.”
Orgeron named his starter to begin the first week of preparation for BYU because he wanted his offense to know who its leader is. But from the looks of it, those players had already established that opinion.
“I don’t think [reassurance] was needed,” said center Will Clapp. “More than anything, it lets the offense know who is going to be under center. But we all had a pretty good idea for a while.”
Last season played a role in forming that idea for Clapp. Etling took over as LSU’s starter in Week 3 after Brandon Harris was benched. He never looked back, finishing sixth in the SEC in passing yards per game (193) and passing efficiency (135.6).
Etling professed ignorance to Clapp’s opinion that he had won the quarterback competition long ago.
“He’s just an intuitive guy,” Etling joked. “No, Will’s awesome and Will has a lot of faith in me.
“You never want to assume anything. You want to make sure you compete every single day and earn your teammates’ trust. Hopefully I’ve earned Will’s and all my other teammates. To hear Will say that, that’s awesome.”
For Etling, the key to becoming the Tigers’ starter was to never assume that he was.
“Don’t think, ‘This is mine,’ ” Etling said. “Just think, ‘How can I be the best quarterback for this team?’ ”
He also agreed with Orgeron’s assessment that competition from freshmen Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse made him up his game to earn the job.
“Competition is something you have to embrace, you have to love. Especially if I want to continue my career after this year,” Etling said. “I’ve never not had a competition going into a season. It’s always been a difficult thing to drive through.
“As a freshman, it was very difficult understanding how to compete. It’s a good life lesson for anyone. You have to be able to compete and embrace it.”
Danny Etling dishes about earning the starting job. pic.twitter.com/OLr3qHnAK8
— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) August 23, 2017