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Training Camp Heat Check: Quarterback

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A look at training camp competition under center.

NCAA Football:  Florida at Louisiana State Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

LSU will report for fall practice in a week, and as Ed Orgeron begins his first real training camp in charge of the Tigers, competition will definitely be the biggest buzzword of those opening weeks. Still, we’re going to center on a few key positions where that will be a little more focused, starting with quarterback.

2017 LSU Quarterbacks

Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
Player Ht, Wt Comp-Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/ Att. Misc.
16 Danny Etling (Sr.) 6'3, 215 160-269 2123 11 5 59.50% 17 5.90% 7.9 24 non-sack carries for 148 yards, 1 TD.
12 Justin McMillan (So.) 6'3, 210 1-1 19 0 0 100.00% 0 0.00% 19
2 Lowell Narcisse (Fr.) 6-2, 231 Four-star recruit.
15 Myles Brennan (Fr.) 6-4, 194 Four-star recruit.
Stats via Football Study Hall.

Incumbent: Danny Etling

The former Boilermaker is back after starting the final 10 games of 2016 with relatively respectable results, at least by recent LSU standards. He competed with Justin McMillan, Lowell Narcisse and Lindsey Scott in the spring under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and held serve.

And while LSU’s other new recruit, Myles Brennan, is on hand and will be given a chance to win the job same as anybody else, it’s likely going to take an extraordinary performance to pull that off. Aside from the challenge of picking up the offense and executing it, Brennan’s still on the skinny side for a college quarterback. Unless he puts on some sort of Dan Marino-esque throwing display, Etling will take the first snap in Houston against BYU.

Focus: Backup

Things are much more interesting in the race for QB2 here. McMillan, a third-year sophomore, took the most advantage of the clean slate of a new coaching staff and surged ahead of local favorite Scott in the spring. His passing was good enough to even push Etling a little, although not on a consistent basis.

With a summer in the books, did McMillan continue to work like somebody that believes he can start? Did Scott raise his game to the challenge? The freshmen Narcisse and Brennan will try to put their best foot forward, but it seems like they have an uphill climb.

X-Factor: Etling

Etling spent last season and the spring battling back issues that required surgery around May, and per reports, including this interview with Canada on Off the Bench with Culotta and T-Bob, the nerve pain was significant and cost him feeling at times. Throwing a football is a full-body endeavor from the legs, through the core to the arm itself, and pain or weakness from nerve issues can really hamper strength in that department. If Etling’s surgery can truly create some physical results for him, beyond what the coaching staff and play-calling can coax out of him from a management standpoint, it might solidify this passing game even more than we already expect.

Because he flamed out at one of the worst Power-Five programs in the country, it’s easy to forget that Etling was a four-star, Elite-11 recruit coming out of high school. There may be more to his game than anybody realizes.