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In da Film Room: Goodnight Sweet Danny

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Danny does not disappoint against the Aggies.

Texas A&M v LSU Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

This is going to be the last Danny Etling film room ever and we get to end on a high note. Against A&M he dropped back an unheard of (for LSU) 35 times and had a pretty good night.

One of the easy things about doing a film room series about LSU’s quarterbacks has been how few times our QBs drop back on a per game basis. It’s takes time to cut up all the clips (with that said major shoutout to Chris Forester @doctor_4ster for making LSU QB compilations the past couple years) so only having to do 17 drops minus screen passes and minus offensive line induced sacks you get to like only 6 plays that I need to analyse. Gives me more time to play tower defense games on my phone.

On the flipside, 35 dropbacks gives you a more nuanced view of the game. You see patterns. Two of the three touchdown passes from Danny were on the same concept. He hit Gage on the same concept twice down the field. The slice action that LSU’s uses set up a cool screen pass to Darrel Williams and later a throw away to Guice.

LSU got what they expected from Chief’s Aggie defense. A bunch of single-high safety looks that Canada exploited all the while the offensive line was able to keep the pocket relatively clean. It was a great night for the offense capped off by some big performances by players in their last home game ever.

On that note, here’s a selection of what I liked and didn’t like from Danny Etling’s final game in Tiger Stadium:

This ends up being what looks like man coverage from A&M but Danny doesn’t know that pre-snap. His job is to read the defenders over the slant route from his inside most slot receiver/tight end. The Mike is in the window and the Sam turns his hips to run with the tight end so Danny delivers in rhythm to Chark who is interfered with.

Same concept, A&M plays it the same way, Danny is a little off but I’ve always said it’s better to put the slant throw on the receivers body rather than in front of him (so he doesn’t die). The trade off is that you might end up throwing behind him.

This is a good concept against both Cover 1 and Cover 3. Chark runs off the cornerback in both coverages and then Gage works back to the zone where the corner was to get open. This is against man so the double move post-corner allows Gage to shake off his defender. Danny feels pressure so he moves a tad to his right and delivers a great ball with a dude in his face.

Same concept here but this time it’s against Cover 3. You can see the flat defender carry Gage for a little bit before looking back at the quarterback, seeing no flat threats and trying to pick up Gage again. Etling just waits on it and Gage runs away from the DB. Another really good ball here. These are the type of touch throws that Brandon Harris didn’t have in his repertoire.

LSU gets man coverage again so I’m fine with Danny trying to hit the wheel route. The high post is covered by the safety in the middle of the field, and the crosser is dealt with by the linebackers. I’d like to see him try to throw this to the back shoulder. Throwing a wide side sideline route is difficult when you try to throw it for a touchdown because of exactly what happens here. It’s a long throw so the ball ends up way too inside. Throw it early on the back shoulder and you get a completion.

Danny is taking a deep drop which you will see he doesn’t do later when LSU runs the same concept for a touchdown. He’s trying to work the left side of the field but you got press man coverage down there and nobody gets open. When Danny moves up in the pocket because of pressure he needs to get his eyes on what would be his “rush” route: the hitch-out by the slot. He’s open forever and Danny doesn’t hit him.

Here’s the touchdown on the same concept. It’s a quicker drop and Danny holds the safety just long enough with his eyes to keep the slant window open. Really good job here.

And now the touchdown to Chark. Even smaller window here but Danny hits it. Watch Chark off the line. Wins inside but what young receivers want to do when running a slant against press coverage is break to the slant the second they win inside. Chark pushes vertically and then breaks to the slant which gets him open.

Couldn’t have done this against Alabama, eh? Basically a double post concept by LSU. The inside post is designed to take away the safety so that Danny can hit the out-post route by Chark. Just like Alabama. However, this is a great ball. Chark barely has to slow down and it falls into his hands.

The read here is pretty straightforward. You have an off-corner with his hips inside so whether he’s actually playing Cover 3 (or 2 in this case) or ends up playing man you can still throw this out route. What I like is that Danny is able to throw it accurately to the wide side of the field with a man in his face. Good stuff again.

I’ve covered this route concept so many times this past season. Danny is reading the cornerback. The cornerback sticks on the drag-stop route so Danny knows he can throw the corner route. One of two things need to happen here for a completion: either Danny throws this to the back pylon with air, or the receiver flattens his route to the sideline. Neither happens here and it’s an incompletion.

Same concept here but you can see what happens when the corner bails opening up the flat. A good accurate ball by Danny.

This is the type of stuff that gets me horny. Quarterbacks hitting their checkdown/rush route off balance. That’s how you stay on the field. Can’t see what’s going on down the field on the left side but let’s assume A&M covers the two receivers. The second Danny feels pressure and has to step up, his eyes go directly to the tight end check releasing into the flat. Easy throw. You’re not always going to pick up the first down but you never know and here he does.

I’m not sure what the receivers are taught on this play but I think the slot receiver who runs the wheel-comeback route should be breaking to the sideline instead of just chilling on the numbers. Danny has no where to go with the ball unless that happens.

I’ve learned recently that the cool kids call this concept “yankee.” The post route from the left side takes away the safety and the corner in this Cover 3 defense so Danny knows he has to hit the deep cross. The play-action sucks up the linebackers also. Danny’s gotta hit this. Float it to the sideline like he did on the post-corners to Gage. Should be a completion here.

All in all, Danny was pretty good. He took a few sacks but they weren’t all on him and overall his decision making was fine. Ball placement was excellent, I found. The Aggie pass defense is actually solid so I’m happy with his performance. Of course, the whole Kevin Sumlin already being fired thing might have had an affect on morale for Texas A&M. Either way, a great sendoff for the senior.