There is no more hinting — Danny Etling will start for LSU against Mississippi State, coach Les Miles confirmed in a video posted to the school's website Friday.
"I just want you to know, Danny will take the first snap," he said.
Miles has indicated multiple times this week that Etling would start on Saturday night in the home game against the Bulldogs (1-1), but the coach has never officially named the Purdue transfer his starter, dancing around the question with answers that include "I guess" and "I imagine."
He said in the video that he has the right to change his mind on Etling's start. Etling replaced starter Brandon Harris in the Tigers' game against Jacksonville State, leading No. 20 LSU (1-1) to three straight touchdown drives in an offensive spark this team badly needed.
"I think Danny can handle the place and the stage and playing in a televised game in Tiger Stadium," Miles said in the video, taken after the Tigers practiced Thursday night.
"I would say that that is still the case," he said when asked if Etling would start. "You know what? It's hard for me to prematurely ... I just want you to know, Danny will take the first snap, but I hold the right to make that decision any time I want to."
Don’t play Danny Etling in Madden.
Harris' reign as LSU's starter — 14 straight games — is at least temporarily over. The quarterback has struggled with accuracy during his starting career, and that reared its head during the 16-14 season-opening loss to Wisconsin and the first two series of the game against the Gamecocks.
Etling will make his first start since Sept. 27, 2014, in Purdue's 24-10 loss to Iowa. Etling went 11-for-26, threw an interception and was sacked four times. He was replaced by Austin Appleby mid-game, never started again and transferred to LSU last summer.
He practiced with the starting group during drills this week, and he's looked like "the same guy" who tossed passes for the past year on the second string and scout team, Miles said.
"He just prepares hard and has a nice comfortable throw and does the things that you’re supposed to do," Miles said.
Etling sat out last season via NCAA rules. The game against Jacksonville State was the second for which he was eligible.
"I didn’t expect him to come on and understand it as quickly as he has, but you do recognize how hard he works and his natural abilities," Miles said. "So I guess I’m not surprised."
How was he able to grasp the system so quickly?
"Hard work," the coach said. "Somebody was saying the other day they came down to the weight room to get one of the snacks that is provided, and they saw Danny in the back working with one of the young receivers. It’s just what he does. It’s just how he operates."
This happened months ago, well before any quarterback change unfolded in Baton Rouge.
Etling completed 6 of his first 8 passes in the game last week, appeared poised in the pocket and went through his progressions quickly, spreading the ball around to tight ends, receivers and running backs.
Miles and his staff "visited" with Harris earlier this week, trying to keep the once-highly touted QB engaged. The coach suggested multiple times this week that he could play both Harris and Etling.
He danced around Etling's start since the post-game news conference last Saturday.
"I would guess Danny would take the first snap," he said Wednesday in a post-practice news conference.
Earlier in the day, Miles told reporters on the Southeastern Conference teleconference that he "can't imagine that Danny Etling would not take the first snaps, but we're going to let the week play out."
LSU did not publicize a depth chart Monday as it normally does.
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