Les Miles isn’t revealing who will start at quarterback, and the team did not provide a weekly depth chart like it normally does on Mondays.
“We’ll need both guys to play in every game,” Miles said. “We’re not turning our back in any way to competition at that position. I will not name a starter until I talk to my team today. I will talk to my team today after this meeting.”
Miles suggested he might not name a starter, even with his team, but the coach indicated, in one answer, that junior Danny Etling will start against the Bulldogs. Asked about Brandon Harris, Miles said: “We’d like to think that a respite from a starting quarterback (position) and pressure thereof will allow him to take a deep breath.”
Etling replaced Harris after he struggled to a 1-for-4 mark in the Tigers’ first two series against Jacksonville State. Etling, an Indiana native and former Purdue quarterback, led LSU on three straight touchdowns drives, sparking the offense by completing 6 of his first 8 passes.
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Miles said Etling’s insertion into the game wasn’t planned or scripted, and the coach expected Harris to have a better start. Like many teams, LSU “scripts and rehearses” its first several offensive plays in the upcoming game during a walk-through on Fridays.
“I would have predicted he’d come out the gate fast,” the coach said of Harris.
Multiple times on Monday, Miles insisted that the Tigers will need both quarterbacks and, even at one point, suggested they could both play.
Miles would not reveal how he’ll split first-string practice snaps this week in practice. Miles and the staff toyed with idea of playing Etling in the season-opening loss against Wisconsin.
The coach said Etling has recently improved at practice.
“The last two weeks, 10 days he’s been executing at a much higher rate,” Miles said.
Many believe the competition ended after Etling’s second-quarter outburst Saturday. Miles, after Saturday’s 34-13 win, side stepped a question on the future of his starting quarterback during an interview with ESPN. In a post-game news conference, though, he opened up the position and indicated that Etling’s got the lead.
“I think Brandon, we had to get him comfortable and settle him down,” Miles said. “I don’t know that that will happen. Depends on how this quarterback competition plays out.”
Etling, for one night at least, served as the missing piece in what’s been a puzzling LSU passing game, the perfect fit in coordinator Cam Cameron’s pro-style offense. Etling, who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue, has a relationship with Cameron that dates back to high school.
Both Cameron and Etling attended the same high school, South Vigo, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Etling was highly regarded out of high school in 2013, but his only offers came from Colorado, Iowa and Purdue, according to Rivals.com.
Etling was rated as a four-star prospect and listed as the No. 9 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com. He was ranked as the No. 12-ranked pro-style quarterback by ESPN.com and listed by MaxSports.com’s Tom Lemming as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback in the nation among the 2013 class. He was selected as one of 25 prep quarterbacks nationally to compete at the Elite 11 finals.
Dan Hawkins, former coach at Boise State and Colorado, worked with Etling at the Elite 11 camp.
“I did like him in the Elite 11,” Hawkins said last week. “I thought he had a little bounce in his step. Good sized kid. Had a little swagger in him.”