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Danny Against the World: Citrus Bowl

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Don’t Ever Try the Mango Habanero Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - LSU v Louisville
Danny Etling Only Eats at the Finest Establishments
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There are no Buffalo Wild Wings in Montreal. This is one of the few things that allows me to sleep at night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still tossing and turning in my sheets until 3 a.m. thinking about literally everything (honestly it’s mostly just about girls: girls who won’t return my messages, girls who cancel dates because they’re “sick”, girls who I’m afraid to talk to in real life and sometimes boys who have a feminine side) but when my brain is on fire like this, I can extinguish it by remembering that I don’t have to deal with Buffalo Wild Wings in my general vicinity. I’ve been to BWW one time, in Ann Arbor, and it was awful. Much worse than the chain chicken wing restaurants we have in Montreal/Canada. My friend and I shared a few different wing flavors and they were all bad with “mango habanero” going down as the worst thing I put in my mouth until this expired yogurt I’m eating right now.

As you know, LSU played in the Citrus Bowl sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings and both teams were given free *terribly seasoned* wings leading up to the game and I would imagine based on the outcome of the game, Louisville ate more *terribly seasoned* free wings which slowed them down tremendously on game day.

(I’m sorry if I triggered any BWW fan boys, send your hate mail to customerservice@buffalowildwings.com)

Anyways, this post is about Danny Etling and his supposed struggles against the Louisville defense. He was so bad right? I, for one, I can’t wait for Lowell Narcisse/Myles Brennan/Brandon Harris v2/the ghost of Jordan Jefferson to get the starting job next season over this B1G HACK!!!1!

(deep breath)

Guys, Danny is going to the starting quarterback next year, I have no doubt. He’s pretty goshdarn good and after reviewing the tape, he was more than fine against Louisville.

You’ll have to excuse a few of the plays I am going to leave out: 3 batted balls by defensive linemen where he looked to be throwing to open receivers, a third and 24, a couple screen passes to Guice, the ez-pz touchdown pass to Guice and a few plays where I couldn’t get a feel for the right concept based on the camera angle (including his two third-down scrambles for first downs. With that said, we’re going to start with the negatives:

L’ Interception Stupide

I would argue that what makes Danny double clutch on the ball is that Malachi Dupre takes an inside release on his dig route from the middle slot position. Etling is looking to hit Dural right out of the break on the 30 yard line but because the nickel/sam lined up over Dupre was able to turn inside, he sees Dural and can jump that route if it’s thrown. You’d like Danny to sit there and come back Dupre over the middle, especially against a three-man rush but he’s honestly just trying to throw the ball away but he doesn’t have the arm strength.

Shallow Cross

A manageable third down for the Tigers and Ensminger calls a shallow cross concept. As the drag comes across, Danny manipulates the linebacker with a Drew Brees-esque pump fake to draw him on the shallow cross, this opens up the dig behind it. Etling’s feet are set, everything is good but the ball is overthrown.

These two plays are really the only two that stood out to me as plays where I’m sure Danny is on the sideline afterward thinking about what Cher once sung about:

I’ll tell you, if I could turn back time, I probably wouldn’t have embedded a Cher music video in this article but what’s done is done.

Besides those two plays, there were a lot of positives:

Spider 2 Y-Banana et al.

I used to think this concept was taught “deep to short” but the more I learn, it seems like everyone teaches it short to deep. Take the underneath one and let your receiver turn up field. If the ball is accurate and he doesn’t have to slow down, he can get turnt before the defender gets his paws on him and create a nice gain.

You can see how the ball is a little short causing J.D. Moore to slow up just enough and he gets tackled early. Either way, it’s a good read.

Pitch and catch.

The touchdown to Colin Jeter is a little weird because, as you’ll see, Foster Moreau never looks back at Etling. I don’t really understand that but Jeter is wide open for the touchdown.

EZ Completions

Yes, I’m calling this category “ez completions” but let’s not forget that Brandon Harris had trouble with a lot of these throws. The first one was an LSU staple in 2015 for Harris under Cam Cameron. Full slide by the offensive line, have the backs fill the backside, find your softest corner and get 4-6 yards. This one isn’t a full slide but it’s the same concept. When LSU ran the full slide the ball was batted down by the defensive end who had gotten closer to the QB because the running backs who are blocking him have to come from depth.

Another quick game concept below with double outs/stick. Louisville is in a sort of Cover-2 trap coverage to the near side of the screen, so that No. 20 is going to sit inside of any quick hitch to the outside receiver. His safety friend is going to play any outside vertical route out. The cool thing about how LSU gets Chark open is due to the condensed split by the receivers. Chark now has a lot of room to work towards the sideline and when 20 moves inside of him, Danny knows Chark is going to out-leverage him to the sideline.

Big Baller Shot Caller

Here are some of the deeper shots downfield starting with a couple deep crossing concepts.

Above, you have the seam/skinny post to take the top off the defense and then Malachi Dupre on the crossing route. When Danny gets to the top of his drop, the safety is capping the vertical route so he hitches and throws to an open Dupre for a big gain.

Cover 1 pressure by Louisville which basically eliminates the vertical route due to the centerfield safety. As long as Dupre wins his route, there will be a window for Danny to get the ball to him. Slightly overthrown, obviously, but a great catch by No. 15.

Next, is a couple shots on the fade against the Cover 1 or 3 look that Louisville is showing. The first clip looks a lot like the 4-6 yard hitch play from earlier except LSU is taking a shot on the fade. Great back-shoulder placement and another great catch by 15

This second clip is probably more of a “quick game” concept but I put it here because Etling throws the fade route. It’s Cover 1 again, and Danny could throw the out route but he feels his man can get behind the coverage so he throws the fade. Gotta keep the ball to outside so the safety can’t come hang out with your receiver but deep balls are rarely as accurate as you want them to be.

This slot fade that Etling throws comes from an off-shoot of y-stick, but the Nos. 1 and 2 receivers roles are reversed. Once Danny confirms that he has man coverage (probably by looking at the corner), he knows he has a lot of room to throw the slot fade. It’s not the worst ball in the world but he has to keep it in bounds because he has the receiver open.

This big play to Chark looks like post-out and LSU is able to pick up this 7 man pressure by Louisville and hit a big play against Cover 0. Against Zero we want to look to the middle of the field and deep, that’s where Chark is. Under-thrown deep balls can be big plays on the back shoulder:

Untitled Y-Sail Category

This is just such a good ball. Basically the same concept as above but Danny takes the out against a Cover 2-Man type coverage. Wide side sail route on the money!

Smash Hits!

A couple concepts from the smash family as we conclude this expose into the mind of Danny Etling.

The first is Y-Corner. Danny knows he can’t throw the corner route when the cornerback drops deep and takes it away right at the snap so forget that. He now has the flat route or the stop route. He wants to throw the flat route but the safety who was spinning down picks it up so Danny doesn’t panic and hits Dupre on the spot.

Below, LSU is, again, trying to put the cornerback in a bind. Louisville is in a Cover 2/4 shell, so the corner jumps on the flat route giving Etling room to the out breaking route behind it. This is nice design by LSU in not having the receiver run a corner route against this coverage. Against a trap coverage, the safety knows he has to get over the top of #1 going vertical because his cornerback friend is going to jump inside. This coverage is great against a regular smash concept (with a corner route) because the safety’s job is work outside hard, and take away the corner. The corner isn’t funneling No. 1 to him so he really has to get out there quick. The out route by LSU makes it hard for him to get underneath it.

Purdue Starting Quarterback Danny Etling was really fine in this game even though he was faced with a lot of third-and-longs, had a few batted balls and a couple drops. I’m excited for the future Danny at the helm.