It’s become abundantly clear LSU quarterback Danny Etling does not shy away from contact.
Sometimes, the Purdue transfer seeks it out. Look no further than a block he threw against Arkansas when Tigers running back Leonard Fournette was forced to reverse course on a 11-yard run.
It was more of the same in the No. 25 Tigers' 16-10 loss to No. 13 Florida last Saturday. He took hits on roughly eight of his 28 dropbacks, including a few times when he scrambled. He gets his toughness from his parents, he said.
“They’re two of toughest people I know, so you just kind of get it from them,” Etling said. “You get up and you do your job and you work hard and you don’t complain about anything, and that’s kind of what I’ve done. It’s worked well for me in my football career. I don’t plan on changing that.”
So when asked about the facing Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett at 6:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, Etling offered the appropriate praise for one of best past rushers in the country. But the quarterback didn’t speak hesitantly. He only pretended like he didn’t know Garrett had 4½ sacks and a forced fumble in a 23-10 win against UTSA.
“Oh really? Just kidding, I knew that,” Etling smiled when asked about Garrett’s outing against the Roadrunners. “Yeah, he looked really good. Obviously, he’s talented and he’s going to make a lot plays. You got to account for him.”
Garrett, who’s battled a high ankle sprain since a 45-24 win against Arkansas on Sept. 24 and missed two games, told reporters he still doesn’t feel 100 percent. But the preseason All-American felt the healthiest he’s been since the injury during his career-high day.
With the 4½ sacks against UTSA, the Bednarik Award finalist is now one of eight players in Southeastern Conference history to register at least 30 career sacks. He has 8½ on the season and 32½ in his career, which is sixth in league history.
And he’s not just a threat as a pass rusher, Etling said.
“They use him to disrupt some plays in the passing game,” Etling said. “He’s a good pass-rusher, but, in the running game, he’s shown he can play on all of those different downs. He’s kind of an all-down defensive lineman who can make a lot of plays for him all over the field.”
According to WalterFootball.com’s most recent mock draft, the 6-foot-5, 262-pound junior is projected to be the first overall selection in 2017 NFL Draft. In LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron’s mind, Garrett reminds him of one of his own players — outside linebacker/defensive end Arden Key, who is second in the SEC with 10 sacks.
“Him and Arden are a lot alike,” Orgeron said. “He may be a little bit bigger and stronger than Arden. I recruited him out of high school. I know him very well. You have to protect. He's going to come off the edge, and it's going to take two to block him, maybe three. He's that good."
Garrett’s versatility matches well with Aggies defensive coordinator John Chavis’ scheme. Chavis, who held the same position at LSU from 2009-2014 before a contentious departure to College Station, is known an aggressive, havoc-seeking play caller. It’s part of the reason why the No. 22 Aggies (8-3, 4-3) are tied for sixth in the country in turnovers gained with 24.
For Garrett, that could mean moving around on the line of scrimmage, Tigers left guard Will Clapp said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised about it,” he said. “’Chief’ (Chavis) is big into matchups, and he’s going to try to get the best matchups that he can take advantage of it.”
LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White was named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. White is joined by Southern California’s Adoree’ Jackson and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis as finalists. … Tigers linebacker Duke Riley has accepted an invitation to the 2017 Senior Bowl, the Senior Bowl announced via its Twitter account Monday. … With LSU playing on Thanksgiving night, Orgeron’s radio show will air on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. from T.J. Ribs on Acadian Thruway.