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In da Film Room: Danny Etling vs. Mississippi State

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Danny Etling Tap Dances Around The Bulldogs

Mississippi State v LSU
Seth Galina Bought My Game-Worn Socks
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The old adage is that the backup quarterback is everyone’s favorite player. This is so far holding true in Baton Rouge because as it turns out the backup quarterback is better than the starting quarterback. Danny Etling is just better than Brandon Harris. Yes, he made mistakes in this game and no, he isn’t Zach Mettenberger in terms of his NFL prospects but gosh darn if he doesn’t get me excited about the quarterback position at LSU. He does everything that quarterbacks are supposed to. Especially with his feet. You can tell he understands how each route he looks at is progressed to by his footwork. With feet this nice, he should modeling on “interesting” websites, not playing quarterback for the Tigers amirite.

Go for it, Danny.

Swing to Fournette

There’s a small window to get the ball to Jazz Ferguson but I think Etling makes the right play to get it out to Fournette. MSU is pretty disciplined in not coming down early on any short routes.

Scramble off Smash

LSU is going to run a sort of smash concept to the bottom of the screen and MSU takes it away when the cornerback drops deep to take away the corner route. Dural gets roughed up so he’s out of the equation and by the time Etling looks to his right, no one is open. A good decision to put it down and pick up some yards.

Hi-Lo Flat Read

A type of play-action mesh concept. I think LSU has a corner route that leaves the screen that’s covered so Etling comes down to the flat route that needs to be a little more accurate so that his fullback can turn upfield in stride.

Double Screen

I’ve always felt when you have a double screen, you need to look off the screen you aren’t throwing before coming back to the one you are going to be throwing. The edge rusher who forces the tough throw by Etling sees what’s up too early. Harris used to do the same thing on this play so it may be something the coaching staff is teaching.

Snag/Sail Pressure Throw

LSU has added this snag concept to their repertoire for this season. It’s triangle stretch on the flat and the deep outside. You’re going to have a corner route, a spot route and a flat route. LSU has shown this a couple times on film, so they add a wrinkle and change the corner to a sail route. The cornerback here is capping the potential corner route but he’s not in position to cap the sail route. This is a money throw. You’d be OK if Etling comes down and throws the flat or spot route, but in the face of pressure, he reads the technique of the cornerback and makes a great read and delivery.

Chark Post Touchdown

This is what we need from our quarterback. There’s no good replay of this but we can assume that one of the safeties jumped the dig route giving Etling the window to throw the post. Accurate. Touchdown.

Flip to Dural

Jeter is probably open, but I have no view of the safety. I think he’s in the middle of the field so I don’t think he gets to the outside fast enough to make a play on Jeter. Either way, it’s a good move stepping up in the pocket and finding his rush route.

Bracketed Post

This is a classic Brandon Harris mistake here. I think Etling wants to take the field side post because he sees one of the safeties screw down a little bit. The problem is that the other safety is now coming over from the weak side putting the squeeze on that post route. I’m not sure Danny actually sees him and if he does, he’s really not giving himself a chance because the window is pretty tight. The corner is hip to hip and the safety is closing. He’s got to come down to his crossing route, which are covered, and then end up getting to Fournette underneath.

Rollout Smash

LSU comes with a concept from the smash family paired with a rollout from Etling. As we’ve talked about with this concept, he’s going to try to throw the corner as his rhythm route and then come down to his underneath route. The corner route here is bracketed by the strong safety and the cornerback who is hard outside shade after the short motion. LSU was hoping that the two lower MSU defensive backs wouldn’t switch assignments and they could get that corner open. It doesn’t happen so Etling comes down to his next route and delivers a very accurate ball.

Double Outs

Cam Cameron has been waiting years to whip out his double outs concept. Once a big play for Zach Mettenberger and co. it’s been hardly used in the subsequent years. Here it is in all its glory. The wideout on the bottom (off screen) is going to run his corner off first. It’s really the quarterback’s first read but it rarely gets thrown. The two slots are running outs and Etling is reading the defender lined up between the two. He doesn’t expand to the flats, so Etling throws the further out. He might have had a little better timing if he hadn’t truncated his dropback. He can probably throw off his 3rd step.

Flat to Moreau

More from the smash family. Etling is looking to see if that cornerback runs with Chark on his sail route. As he’s doing that, he’s seeing that no one is covering Moreau because the outside linebacker lined up over top of him came on a pressure. It’s the right read and an easy read. The funny thing is that he can probably get the ball to Chark right on his cut anyways.

Dural Over the Middle

I’m not sure what the routes are on the bottom of the screen but I appreciate that Etling hitches in the pocket and finds his backside receiver.

Fade Overthrow

This bothers me. We can’t see the top side safety pre-snap but I feel like he’s at least on the hash. So with that said, why would just try to work the fade route to that side exclusively. Look at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see a fade and seam against a cover 3 cornerback and Dupre looks pretty damn open for a touchdown.

Smash Checkdown

MSU covers the smash concept to the top side so Etling hitches and comes down to Fournette and, honestly, this makes me really aroused. His feet are perfect. After 3 steps and a hitch he has nothing so he hitches again to find Fournette (who gets in dat ass).

Endzone Fade

Dupre is probably open on the slant for a touchdown. Etling obviously doesn’t know that the nickelback is going to blitz. What could tip him off is the placement of the safety directly over top. Even after the play starts, I think he can still get to the slant. He chooses the safe throw.

Back to Back Misfires

The reads and his feet are fine in both these clips, he just misses. Would love to have those back.

Sail

Inches away from being an NFL caliber throw. It’s still pretty good but the ball has to be more outside. Once the cornerback runs with the fade route, he knows he’s going to the sail route but with the nickelback/safety being in cover 3, he has some room to put it over the top a bit.

Comeback

He has the comeback wide open and I’m not sure why he doesn’t pull the trigger. Wastes a good route by Chark.

Sail (the remix)

“nom nom nom I eat cover 3 with sail routes” - Danny Etling