When LSU needed a spark on offense, Les Miles handed the offense over to Purdue transfer quarterback Danny Etling. Etling wasted little time taking advantage of the opportunity, and Miles may find it difficult to take it back in hopes of seeing Brandon Harris getting off to a good start again. Sure, it was only one game against a (very good) FCS opponent in Jacksonville State, but Etling was cheered when he came in and deemed a hero when he left the field after leading LSU to a 34-13 victory Saturday night.
Taking a job away from a starter is nothing to be worried about in college football, because it is what every player should aim to do. Etling, however, knows what it is like to be a starter losing the job after constant struggles, so he has a unique perspective on what Harris is experiencing right now.
“I empathize a lot with him,” Etling said after the game Saturday night, per ESPN. “It’s not a fun position. It’s terrible and it’s something that maybe only quarterbacks can understand, and it’s something that I definitely understand. I really wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
Etling was once the starting quarterback at Purdue, taking the job from Rob Henry in October 2013 after the Boilermakers struggled on offense and took a loss against Northern Illinois. Etling had come in to replace Henry in that loss and Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell made the decision to stick with Etling moving forward in Big Ten play. A year later, after being named the starting quarterback for the season, Hazell benched Etling and replaced him with Austin Appleby. Appleby went on to be named Purdue’s starting quarterback for the 2015 season as well, while Etling saw the writing on the wall and was granted a release from his scholarship to pursue other opportunities. After weighing his options, the decision was made to attend LSU. After sitting out the 2015 season, Etling is now taking advantage of his second chance in college football, for now at least.
Miles said after the previous week’s loss to Wisconsin that Harris can struggle to knock off a shaky start. Whether Miles gives Harris another chance remains to be seen. For now, Etling should be the quarterback for LSU’s offense until proven otherwise. LSU opens SEC play this week at home against Mississippi State.
Helmet sticker to ESPN.