LSU coach Les Miles compared quarterback Brandon Harris, the starter for the Tigers first two games, to a baseball hitter in a slump at his weekly radio show. Ideally, moving Harris to the bench will reenergize him for the future, Miles suggested.
“Frankly, I told (Harris), ‘Listen, I’d like to look back about two years from now and have won two national championships and that you had never relinquished the job,’ Miles said. "But sometimes, you know, that third-hole batter gets in a slump and he can’t quite handle it. But now move him to second spot and suddenly he’s hitting the heck out of the ball. He’s clutch. He’s everything you ever wanted. So we really just felt like we need to take him off the field and have him get comfortable with what’s going on.”
Down 3-0 against Jacksonville State last Saturday, Harris was replaced by Danny Etling early in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 34-13 victory. Etling completed six of his first eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Etling, who also had a rushing touchdown, led three straight touchdown drives as LSU scored 27 points in the quarter.
Miles, like he had at both the Southeastern Conference teleconference and his post-practice press conference, indicated that Danny Etling will start in Saturday’s SEC opener against Mississippi State. However, Miles did suggest that Harris will still be involved in the weekly game preparation and may have opportunities to play again.
“We think that Brandon will compete, continue to improve,” Miles said. “And no one’s ever said he didn’t have a lot of talent... It’s fair to say that Danny will take the first snaps in the game. We’re going to do the things that make the team best. There’s no closed door to entry into the game.”
Here are few other nuggets from Miles’ radio show:
Cam in the booth: A caller asked Miles how much of the offense’s success on Saturday was tied to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron moving back to the coach’s booth to call plays. Cameron called plays from the booth in his first three seasons at LSU before moving to the sideline for the Tigers’ Texas Bowl win, when it racked a school record in yardage. Cameron coached from the sideline against Wisconsin, along with all the other assistants, but the offense faltered in a 16-14 defeat. Miles said he wasn’t sure how much the move affected the offense, “positive or negative,” but he did say that both he and Cameron agreed it was for the best. “We felt like we were not getting as much as we could’ve if he had the glimpse of the field as well as the ability to change the call,” Miles said. “It was really that moment of decision making, if you will, that a guy can see the field and no one has to tell him, ‘This is the coverage. This is the front. This is the way it looks.’ It’s a snapshot photo that allows the decision to be cleaner.”
‘Dig yourself out’: Miles was asked why wide receiver Malachi Dupre, who has struggled with drops this season, hasn’t been pulled in favor of other receivers — like former LSU wide receiver Trey Quinn was benched against Alabama in 2014. Dupre led LSU in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns last season, but has just three catches through two games. Miles, like he had at his press luncheon Monday, reiterated that he’s had other standout receivers struggle with drops in the past, even specifically naming one. He also used the slumping baseball hitter analogy in Dupre’s case. “I can remember we had really a great receiver, who is playing in the NFL still today, Brandon LaFell," Miles said. "And he had just a terrible series of drops that he certainly was better than. What happens is, you have to dig yourself out. It’s that batter in a slump.”
‘Nice to rotate through’: Miles was also asked about LSU’s 2017 schedule. The Tigers play five of their first seven games at home, one of those road games being a neutral site game against BYU in Houston. However, LSU plays three of its final six games on the road, including trips to Alabama, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Miles indicated that he would prefer to play more SEC East teams than just the permanent opponent on LSU’s schedule every year, which is Florida. "In the West, we see everybody,” Miles said. “In the East, it would be nice to rotate through."