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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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ANALYSIS: LSU QB Etling electrifies A&M secondary again

Senior+LSU+quarterback+Danny+Etling+passed+for+a+career-high+347+yards+against+the+Aggies.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Senior LSU quarterback Danny Etling passed for a career-high 347 yards against the Aggies.

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU quarterback Danny Etling broke his single-game passing record Saturday night in the Tigers’ 45-21 win over Texas A&M.
Etling’s new record of 347 yards came nearly a year after he set his highest total of 324 against the Aggies at Kyle Field after LSU posted 54 points on A&M’s home field.
“We definitely thought we had a good game plan, all the coaches really had us ready to play this game,” Etling said. “My top-three passing performances have always been in these Thanksgiving last games, so it’s been good.”
On 19-of-30 passing, Etling found his receivers three times for touchdowns, and had eight passes of 15-plus yards, four of which were 30 or more. His numbers came in just 3.5 quarters of play after being replaced by back-ups mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Motions, play-action and backside throws allowed the Tiger receivers to maneuver through the Aggie secondary, giving LSU room to run in the open space.
“They were able to get double moves on our young corners,” then A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “A lot of the deep balls were because of the protection and the time for guys in one-on-one, man-to-man coverage.”
Coming into the game, Etling averaged just 171.5 passing yards per game, and his highest passing total this season was 227 against lowly FCS UT-Chattanooga. But as he did last year, Etling looked poised and powerful in the pocket against the Aggies, leading the Tiger offense to 601 yards on the night.
“They definitely threw some different stuff at us, but Danny was money all night in the passing game,” LSU center Will Clapp said.
Different looks came with different personnel, as the Aggies were missing starting defensive end Jarrett Johnson. The Tigers were without their starting left tackle K.J. Malone and despite having four sacks, A&M’s pursuit of LSU’s quarterback was not enough with the Tigers forming what Sumlin described as a max-protection scheme.
“I think obviously not having Jarrett Johnson hurt us a little bit because of his production and they were sliding the protection a lot more to Landis [Durham], who’s been productive,” Sumlin said. “I think Micheal Clemons came in and gave us some juice, but couldn’t get there every time.”
While Etling had occassional heat, the Tigers stayed true to their attack down-field. LSU’s plan continued to pay off throughout the game.
“We felt like we could protect Danny and throw on them,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “Overall, he did a good job of managing the game, of staying in there when he got hit.”
On the other side, A&M’s passing game was troubled by the tantalizing Tiger defenders. Quarterback Nick Starkel was 16-of-30 for 227 yards, but threw three interceptions. LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver had the Aggie receivers on lockdown, breaking up three passes.
Being fast and physical proved to be the deadly duo in shutting down the A&M receiving corps.
“They’ve got a lot of speed, that’s one thing that stuck out, and they’re long,” A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk said of the LSU secondary. “They make up a lot of ground, if you get some type of separation, they can close fast, especially at the line of scrimmage against press.”
On A&M’s three scoring drives, Starkel was 10-of-13 for 166 yards and the Aggies accumulated eight first downs. In their other 11 possessions, Starkel was just 6-of-17 for 61 yards and threw three interceptions. In turn, A&M only moved the chains six times on their stagnant drives and had five three-and-outs.
Inconsistent play on offense made it difficult for the Aggies to mount a comeback despite coming within six points twice in the second half. LSU also scored 13 points on four A&M turnovers.
“We didn’t execute,” Kirk said. “We put so much on execution during the week and we just didn’t do it. Too many turnovers, too many mistakes offensively that they took advantage of.”

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