Etling still the starter, but it's time for LSU to go all in on future and start Myles Brennan
LSU began the season with Danny Etling as its starting quarterback, has played him and Myles Brennan in four of five games and went back and forth with both in a loss to Troy on Saturday.
The quarterback situation has been evolving week by week. Ed Orgeron said Monday that Etling would remain the starter.
Neither Etling nor Brennan was able to rescue the Tigers from Saturday’s loss, which dropped them to 3-2, shoved them out of the Top 25 and suggested they’re not going to be relevant in the SEC this season. LSU is 0-1 in the conference going into its game at No. 21 Florida on Saturday.
Orgeron calls the shots, but it’s time to take the next step in the quarterback evolution.
It’s time to start Brennan and see what he can do against the Gators. The circumstances aren’t ideal for giving a first-year freshman his first start, even one as talented as Brennan, but circumstances are rarely ideal for changing starting quarterbacks nearly halfway through a season.
This team needs a spark and Brennan already has shown glimpses of the playmaking ability that made him the apparent quarterback of the future. This season — beginning with a 37-7 loss at Mississippi State in the SEC opener two weeks ago and continuing through a lackluster win against Syracuse and the Troy debacle — has devolved into a demonstration of where the program is headed in Ed Orgeron’s first full season as head coach.
The Tigers aren’t going to compete for the SEC West title and which indistinctive bowl they wind up in — if they wind up in one at all — means little. Determining whether Brennan is the man to lead this team for the next two or three years — and, if so, accelerating his development as such — means much more.
Orgeron made the right choice when he selected Etling, a fifth-year senior who had started 12 games at Purdue and 10 last season for LSU, as his starter in preseason camp over Brennan, a 4-star recruit who set the Mississippi high-school career records for total offense, passing touchdowns and passing yards.
The coach was judicious is getting Brennan spot duty in easy wins against BYU and Chattanooga as well as the games against Syracuse and Troy. He was equally judicious in not throwing Brennan to the wolves in Starkville.
Now it’s time to go all in.
It’s not Etling’s fault that the Tigers don’t have a better record and there’s no guarantee that this team will win more games the rest of the way with Brennan starting than it would with Etling starting.
But that’s not what this decision should be about. It’s about moving this program forward at a time when supporters are looking more closely at the terms of Orgeron’s buyout than they are at the SEC standings.
Barring an historically bad season or an historic overreaction by the university administration, Orgeron’s fate won’t be decided until Etling is long gone.
If Orgeron is going to get this program straightened out, Brennan is going to be a big part of that, so give him a leading role now.
If Brennan isn’t everything LSU hopes he is, it’s better to find out now and start recruiting accordingly.
Sure, there will be growing pains, but if those pains put any one potential victory in jeopardy, Etling can always come off the bench — as he has done the past two weeks.
But Brennan and the Tigers can work through those growing pains more productively in these remaining games than in ones down the road.
When this season began, LSU needed an experienced game manager with a steady hand guiding its offense.
But things have changed.
Sure, there are seven SEC games left and the math shows that if LSU wins all of them it will be playing for the conference championship.
But the Tigers’ performance thus far shows that they don’t have the experience, depth — and no, not the talent — to make such a run.
There isn’t enough around the quarterback for him merely to manage it into SEC success.
This offense — this team — needs a playmaker that can elevate that which surrounds him.
If Myles Brennan that guy?
Let’s find out.