It is Purdue’s bye week, so there isn’t a lot to look at in terms of football, but the news out of Louisiana at least is getting Purdue some mentions.
Most of the press is not good. The general reaction, even from LSU fans, is that, “Should we really trust a guy who was chased off at PURDUE?” they see our record and automatically think that Etling is garbage because he couldn’t stay as our starter.
The good news for them is that Etling is legitimately talented.
This feels like the ultimate test in believing that a team needs a good quarterback or a quarterback needs a good team. Personally, I think any quarterback can look excellent with the right team around him. Look at Ken Dorsey. He struggled to do anything in the NFL, but in college he posted an absurd 38-2 record as a starter. The team he had around him was so talented pretty much anyone could have won games. I am pretty sure a legally dead person could have won playing quarterback in a few of those blowouts. If you have a legitimately talented QB by any measure, even better.
That’s where Etling comes in. Etling was a 4-star recruit and he was thrown into a horrible situation. As a true freshman he had to play behind an offensive line that would have had to improve to be putrid. Purdue gave up 38 sacks that season and had less than no running game. Most of the time he was running for his life almost at the moment of the snap.
The second factor was the infamous John Shoop. Shoop burned through three quarterbacks before we finally fired him. Multiple people have said his offensive philosophy was needlessly complicated and I tend to agree. Etling might be talented, but you had him playing behind that offensive line, trying to run a complicated offense, and with no real running game. Of course you’re going to struggle. If Drew Brees magically came back and played on that team he too would have struggled.
Even through this, we saw some flashes. Against Indiana in 2013 he threw for 485 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Unfortunately, Purdue’s defense stayed in West Lafayette that day in a 56-36 loss. At Penn State he threw for 223 yards and even ran for a score. Against Notre Dame at Lucas Oil in 2014 he had 234 yards passing and two TDs, much of it in the first half as Purdue was in the game down only 17-14 before the Irish dominated in the second half in a 30-14.
At LSU, Etling is in a much better situation. They had the No. 5 recruiting class in the country last year, the No. 8 class in 2015, and No. 2 in 2014. Compared to Purdue they have an absolutely absurd level of talent. What player on Purdue’s current two deep even comes close to starting at LSU? Maybe Jake Replogle?
Etling has Leonard Fournette to hand off to, an offensive line where the second string would probably start for us, and a wealth of four-star receivers to throw to. In terms of weapons that Purdue has by comparison, Markell Jones might be good enough to be Fournette’s backup, but that’s about it (and it is a far stretch).
It pains me to see LSU fans rip on him just because he came from Purdue. Our reputation is earned, but it is not his fault. I am extremely happy for Danny and wish him nothing but success because it just proves how lost our own coaching staff is.
Watching him with LSU is certainly more exciting than watching our own mess right now.