By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
In a perfect world, Danny Etling will spend his post-LSU days in the NFL, tossing passing to receivers and cashing paychecks on Sundays.
If that falls through, he might consider a career as a chiropractor. Few have more firsthand knowledge with back injuries than LSU’s senior quarterback, who underwent surgery this spring after spending much of his junior season in various amounts of pain, ranging from “annoying” to “very painful.” LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada went as far as to say earlier this week on the radio there were times, pre-surgery, that Etling couldn’t feel his legs.
“The back’s a funny thing,” Etling said yesterday. “It’s got a lot of nerves back there. Sometimes, things can poke in and float around inside a nerve. That’ll cause some tingling, annoyance, pain. There’s quite a few times (numbness of the leg) would be an issue. It would be very painful.”
That pain is in the past now, though, and Etling couldn’t be happier. Estimating his health as “higher than 90” percent, LSU’s likely starter under center says he hasn’t felt this good since his redshirt season in 2015, after his transfer from Purdue.
“I have certain things that are lingering a little bit,” he says. “I want to make sure I keep working hard with the training staff, doing some pre-hab. I’ll definitely be 100 percent by BYU.”
Etling says his focus this fall is correcting the mechanical flaws he developed while overcompensating for the pain of last season. Though he threw for more than 2,000 yards and completed right at 60 percent of his passes a year ago, Etling wasn’t at his best as a pure thrower, falling away from throws he should’ve stepped into more but couldn’t, due to the pain. [perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I’ve never really not been in a quarterback battle,” Etling says.[/perfectpullquote]
“I would just muscle it out there and hope the ball gets there,” he said. “You’ve been doing that for a year and a half, it’s going to develop a habit. I’m going to try on breaking those and get to that 10,000 rep minimum to break a bad habit.”
He’s not on a pitch count, per se, but the new NCAA rules prohibiting two-a-days serves as a natural governor. Rather than throw in the morning, take a mid-day rest, and return for afternoon tosses, Etling’s simply getting his reps in during a single practice, with a hearty warm up and cool down, keeping his body from overworking but still getting in the throws necessary to refine his mechanics.
“The two a days are where your arm took a lot of wear and tear,” he said. “You’re throwing once a day, really. It’s not nearly as many balls.”
Ed Orgeron has still yet to name Etling the starter, though it appears the job is Etling’s to lose. The staff is getting its first live look at freshman Myles Brennan, whom Orgeron has praised so far, and incumbent reserves Justin McMillan, Lindsey Scott, and early enrollee Lowell Narcisse continue to get work. If Orgeron’s offseason insistence at an open battle bothered Etling at all, he’s not showing signs of irritation.
“I’ve never really not been in a quarterback battle,” he said. “It’s always been something I’ve been a part of, every single year, whether you’re at Purdue and you just finished up your career high game, and, boom, we’re in another battle. You’re always in a battle, you’re always trying to get better. The best player is going to play, and you’ve got to do everything you can to be that best player. It’s something that’s been good for me throughout my career.”