Dig Baton Rouge

Missing Ingredient: Etling could be the needed flavor in LSU football gumbo

I’m not much of a cook, but I sure know food. Heck, just look at my gut. Because I’m so into food, I know how recipes work. I know that every ingredient has to be the perfect addition. The spices, meats, starches and everything else have to act in unison to create the perfect taste. While to you, this may seem like a culinary column, to me, this seems like the perfect segue to talk some LSU football.

Let’s explain.

See, to me, the story of LSU’s 2016 football struggles can be explained by talking about good, ol’ Louisiana gumbo.

To start the season, the dish was bland. Most of the ingredients were good, but the seasoning was just missing, and it threw the whole thing out of whack.

But maybe—just maybe—the recipe became complete when Les Miles pulled Brandon Harris out of the quarterback position and turned his eyes to Danny Etling.

Maybe—just maybe—Etling is the missing ingredient in the Tigers’ football gumbo—the man who can save LSU’s season and help the team push toward the SEC crown.

Once Etling was inserted into the lineup, LSU’s offense got an immediate shot of adrenaline in the arm. The Tigers overcame an atrocious first-quarter against Jacksonville State and scored 27 second-quarter points to grab control of the game.

Etling was a huge culprit in that, using accurate passes to move the Tigers’ offense with ease.

It was like a dream for “message board LSU fan.” The kid was doing everything Harris wasn’t. The kid was hitting all of the benchmarks that “angry fan” had been complaining about through social media for the past five seasons.

He was accurate. He was hitting tight ends. He was making correct decisions.

And LSU prospered, earning its first win of the season.

Sure, in the second half of the game, Etling cooled significantly, but even with the late struggles, Etling had done enough to earn the starting position over Harris, who’s been mostly inept to start 2016.

But now, the real challenges begin and the Tigers will move into the teeth of their schedule—a loaded SEC lineup that will test Etling heavily as the team moves forward.

But I just have a gut feeling that the young man is up for the challenge. He seems cool, calm and collected in his own skin, and that’s something LSU desperately needs at the position.

More important than that, he seems to have the respect of his teammates and command of the Tigers’ huddle.

After Etling’s first touchdown pass, the entire sidelines went nuts, which, to me, shows that players have the young man’s back and want him to succeed in the coming weeks and months. And in college football, that chemistry means a lot.

So where it goes from here, no one yet knows.

But at least on the surface, it looks like the LSU gumbo has finally gotten the flavor it’s so desperately lacked. Danny Etling is the man now, and it’s his turn to be in command of the gumbo that is the LSU offense.

Photo by Sean Gasser.

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