LSU is sticking with its quarterback plan.
Danny Etling will remain the Tigers’ starter, coach Ed Orgeron said, despite his struggles against top-ranked Alabama. Coaches inserted true freshman Myles Brennan for the final drive of the 24-10 loss on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Etling was not injured, the coach said.
“I thought he looked good. Obviously (he felt) some pressure. Made some good decisions,” Orgeron said of Brennan, 3-for-5 for 18 yards. “Myles is going to have a chance to be our quarterback. I don’t know if he’s going to be our quarterback next year, but he has to get some experience and we just wanted to give him a shot.”
The team will not change its season-long plan of Brennan backing up Etling and seeing spot duty in preparation for what many believe to be a starting role next year.
“We’ll have the same plan,” Orgeron said when asked if Brennan could take the starting gig.
LSU hosts Arkansas (4-5, 1-5 Southeastern) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Etling and his receivers failed to connect on at least five deep passes. Wideouts dropped two, and the quarterback underthrew and overthrew several. He admitted afterward that he “missed some throws.”
The Tigers (6-3, 3-2 Southeastern) entered the game with a deep-passing game plan, receiver Russell Gage said.
“We saw on film they weren’t as sound as people may seem in coverage,” Gage said. “We felt like we could take some shots, and we had some shots there. It’s all about executing and finishing the play.
“It’s very frustrating,” Gage continued. “We draw it up. For it to be the way we draw it up basically and not complete it, it’s frustrating, but we’ve got to move on.”
Etling’s numbers — 12-for-26 for 137 yards and an interception — aren’t so different as previous LSU starting quarterbacks against the Tide. The last four starters — Etling twice, Brandon Harris in 2015 and Anthony Jennings in 2014 — have thrown four interceptions to two touchdowns, completed 38 percent of their passes and averaged 108 yards passing per game.
Tight end Foster Moreau defended his quarterback and roommate after Saturday’s loss, specifically touching on Etling’s interception in the second quarter. Bama defensive back Ronnie Harrison jumped running back Derrius Guice’s out route, picking off Etling’s pass.
“Had a turnover. Turnover is an 11-man job,” Moreau said. “I’ve said that before. Might have got some pressure in his face. We practiced on that all week, so it’s not him. It’s on all 11 guys on offense. Again, I’m proud of the way we fought.”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Big brother is still boss.
Donte Jackson accomplished a first on Saturday: He started at safety.
LSU opened the game against Alabama with Jackson at the safety position normally occupied by Grant Delpit. Jackson played the position off and on during the game, he said, but mostly returned to cornerback in the second half.
Jackson, a junior and potential selection in next year’s NFL draft, said he’d never started a game at safety in his career — high school or college. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and secondary coach Corey Raymond made the move in an attempt to get Jackson more involved, he said. Teams have shied away from targeting him this season.
Coaches did something similar with eventual first-round draft choice Tre’Davious White. Jackson began playing some safety against Ole Miss, and coaches moved him inside about a month ago to cover the slot receiver.
“Trying to move me around, keep my in the look, keeping me around the ball,” Jackson said. “They were avoiding me the whole game. Arnada’s game plan was to get me around the ball, see what if I can make some plays.”
He was not targeted in the loss to Bama, but his teammates were. The Tide targeted junior Kevin Toliver on a host of completions to receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley finished with three catches for 61 yards.
“I thought we played very well on defense,” Orgeron said. “I didn’t think their receivers would challenge us like they did. I thought that was the difference. We could not cover their receivers man to man like we do.”
Last season, this was when it began.