It’s tough to wrap my head around what happened with LSU’s offense last week. They finally moved the ball against Alabama and really were only undone by the inability to create explosive plays down the field. Generally, when you look at deep ball throwing, you’re not expecting to complete even 50% of them but the LSU scheme really got people open down the field so you’d expect Danny to hit at least 2 of them. The problem is that this is what Danny is. He can’t consistently get the ball downfield, at least with a modicum of accuracy. It’s compounded with the fact that he’s just alright in the intermediate game so it’s tough to move the chains consistently.
I’d imagine quite a few of us also watched the Bucs-Saints game on Sunday and I felt there were similarities between Brees and Etling early in both games. Brees throws a really bad ball on a short pass that should have been picked off on the first drive and misses Ginn wide open down the field early. Danny gets picked off on a badly thrown short pass and misses Chark wide open down the field. The difference is that the Saints know they’ll eventually make the necessary plays with Brees and LSU can’t with Danny. Brees eventually hits Ginn deep for a touchdown and Etling continually missed Chark down the field.
I feel like I’m lucky I don’t live in the city and have to hear all the sports radio guys talk incessantly about Danny Etling and Brandon Harris before that and Anthony Jennings before that and Zach Mettenberger before that and Jordan Jefferson before that and so and so forth. If LSU radio is anything like Montreal Canadiens radio here, I don’t envy hearing all the hot takes. So, here we go again, breaking down Danny Etling in this space because I’m guessing that he’s all anyone talks about in the city.
As a slight aside, Ross Dellenger tweeted this out yesterday, a chart of Danny explaining all the deep ball misses:
The quotes from Danny illustrate one of the problems I have when I watch film with my quarterbacks. They can always talk you into not being that mad at them. Quarterbacks, especially, can talk your ears off about why they did this and that and make honest sense of it. At the end of day, however, production is what matters the most.
Generally, I omit these easy passes like shovels, screens, bubbles but I wanted to point something out about this scheme in particular. For some reason on these inverted veer, inverted veer shovel plays, the damn pulling guard so rarely goes to the right guy. On the team that I coach, we had trouble with this exact issue the whole year so it was nice to see that a Division 1-FBS school had the same issues. The Bama front is ripe for the taking here. Danny is reading the end man on the line, who plays contain on Guice, while the defensive end crashes inside and is handled by Weathersby. This means there’s only 1 guy left to block for the puller Brumsfield. I guarantee you they practice this scheme every day and they tell Brumsfield to stay tight on his pull and work upfield to the linebacker scraping over top. This is a big play if Brumfield gets in the way of the free linebacker.
Alternatively, you can see Derrick Dillon come into the screen. I guess it’s possible he was supposed to crack down on the backer but got confused when the outside backer blitzed. I’ve never seen the play run like that before but it’s possible.
I can’t really tell what this concept is. I imagine it might be a sort of Corner-Sail-Flat flood concept but with Levi Wallace playing outside leverage on Chark, it forces him to run more of a corner route and he gets too close to Sullivan. Anyways, when Danny gets to the end of his drop, he sees Sullivan has outside leverage on the defensive back, so there’s room to throw the corner, which is his first progression. Pretty good ball considering he’s getting hit as he throws and a good catch from Sullivan.
A tight end, Moreau, being covered by a cornerback gives Etling the presnap read that it’s going to be a zone coverage but either way he’s reading the cornerback to see whether he can throw the corner route to Gage (?). I feel like Gage needs to stem more vertically and not be scared of almost running through the Alabama defender on the inside of him. By stemming outside right way, he allows the backer fly to the flat right away. During his dropback, Danny reads that the corner is high so now he can work the snag/flat portion of his route. The backer got caught up inside so he throws the flat to Guice.
Just throw a touchdown, man. The safety plays the crosser, Chark is wide open, Danny underthrows it. In the same way that Brandon Harris used to overthrow these guys, Danny underthrows them. Love that Chark stuck the corner route before banging it back vertically.
So you actually have the same snag concept on the bottom of the screen as earlier but Etling works the double slant side when the Mike backer opens to the bottom of the screen. This gives him room to fit the slant in. It’s a good throw. We need to throw slants on the body so no one gets killed and he does that.
Another deep one missed
Bama is in a 2 safety look presnap so when the safety to the top of the screen comes down on the playaction, this gives Danny room to throw this ball slightly more inside for Chark. He doesn’t. If he throws it inside he can even underthrow it a bit and there’s still a chance for a play.
The way that Alabama plays their corners in press, I felt the backshoulder fade was going to be available throughout the game. This ball is pretty close from Danny. He holds the safety in the middle of the field during his dropback and then fires it to Anderson.
The read is fine. It’s a fade/out combination so when the fade clears out the corner, Guice has to win outside. Danny knows he has to put the ball to the sideline with a little more arc or else that happens. I’d like it if Danny kept his head downfield a little longer on his dropback instead of staring directly at that side of the field. Ronnie Harrison saw this coming a mile away from the way that Danny was looking over there the whole time.
One of the new concepts that Matt Canada has brought to this offense has been this “Pass-Pass Rollout Option”. LSU will isolate a single receiver to the boundary and Danny will check early if he likes that route and if not will start his rollout to the field. Here he has a smash/sail concept where he hits Chark on the out cut.
These throws are tough to defend when they are thrown accurately. Wallace is low shoulder on Chark so in a theoretical world, you tell Danny to throw over the top but Wallace can’t ever locate the ball when he’s in chase mode. Good throw.
Wide Side Fade
This is not the worst ball. If we’re going to throw the go route on the wide side, the ball hangs in the air a long time so we can’t really throw the back shoulder. We have to lead the receiver and (and this is what Danny does well here) put the ball outside. A long, high arc’ing throw that stays inside gets picked off.
Another missed opportunity
Yes, Chark should have still caught this but man... just throw the ball far and let Chark go get it in the endzone. It’s the same play as the other 2. The read is right, just gotta throw a touchdown.
His best throw
He’s really good at throwing these deep sail routes, eh? The corner stayed low on Guice so now he knows there’s a window for the sail route. Great ball.
I don’t know why Danny doesn’t pull the trigger on this out route to Chark. He’s open before the gets pressured. If Drake Davis was Danny’s first read, then he probably has to get off of him when Davis gets commissioned off the line of scrimmage. I’ve talked about how it’s not easy for QB’s to get off routes when their receiver gets jammed because they think, “he’s going to get open just hold on a sec”. And then it’s too late.