Can LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels make a Joe Burrow leap?

  • Alex Scarborough, ESPN

    • Staff WriterAug 16, 2023, 07:15 AM ET Close Covers the SEC.Joined ESPN
    • in 2012.
    • Graduate of Auburn University.THE TRUTH THAT Jayden Daniels

    wasn’t eliminated by the stifling humidity of Thibodaux, Louisiana, in late June is an excellent indication he’s adjusted to living in the South. He’s all smiles and favorable energy as he works campers at the Manning Death Academy and rubs shoulders with the first household of quarterbacks: Peyton, Eli and Archie.Talking to reporters during a lunch break, the California native keeps returning

    to a word he would not have used a year ago: comfortable.Daniels wasn’t a counselor here last summer season. That’s since he was still unpacking his things after moving from Arizona State to LSU, where he was still completing for the starting task and still looking for his way around campus.He discovered his method around an unforgiving SEC schedule simply fine in his very first year with the Tigers. The game versus Florida was wild and Auburn was so loud he says he could not hear himself think. However he made it through, leading LSU to wins in both games, not to discuss the most significant game of them all– house versus No. 6 Alabama when he ran for a 25-yard goal in overtime and after that finished a make-or-break, 2-point conversion for the walk-off win. The season was a trial by fire that he’s on the other side of now, looking for what’s next.Daniels doesn’t flinch when a regional reporter nonchalantly compares his first season to that of Joe Burrow’s– the ramification being he too can make a jet-fueled leap in Year 2 a la the former LSU legend who went from just being effective in 2018 to simply winning the Heisman Trophy and a championship game in 2019. Is that excessive to ask? Well, LSU is No. 4 team in ESPN’s Football Power Index, and Daniels is tied for the second-best odds to win the Heisman, according to Caesars Sportsbook, trailing only

    last season’s winner, USC’s Caleb Williams. So possibly it’s not that improbable. Daniels steers clear of the buzz. He says he’s been working hard this offseason and has a firm grasp on the playbook. Teammates state they’ve seen a modification in him, too– more assertive, more himself. Coaches hope that translates to a more explosive passing game.Daniels states he’s organized the offense. Then he reassesses and takes charge of offense, defense and unique teams. “This is my team, “he says. “This is how we’re going to run things. This is the requirement we

    ‘re going to hold ourselves to if we wish to achieve our goals.”In rhetoric and in practice, how far LSU goes is up to him.

    play 2:13 LSU QB Jayden Daniels looks ahead to Year 2 in the SEC LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels details what his very first year in the SEC resembled and the group vibrant

    heading into

    the 2023 season.DANIELS WASN’T THE just fish out of water in Baton Rouge in 2015. Who can forget Brian Kelly’s very first attempt at a Southern accent the night he was presented as coach at

    LSU? Family’s a big deal amongst Irish Catholics like Kelly, however fam-uh-lee? That was, uh, different.A year later, Kelly chuckles off his early snafu.”I believe my accent is pretty good and has actually improved throughout the recruiting procedure, “he states.”It depends on if I remain in northern Louisiana or southern Louisiana.

    In some cases I get over to Lake Charles, it’s got to alter a bit.” The truth that he can distinguish between regions is a good indication he’s catching on. But, truly, the reason he has won over LSU fans so quickly has absolutely nothing to do with his diction and whatever to do with those

    10 triumphes last season– none more vital than versus competing Alabama.Players state Kelly brought an attention to information and discipline that was lacking under the previous personnel. And he rapidly instilled a sense of self-belief, which settled in big games.Asked what’s one thing people should understand about LSU this season, running back Josh Williams and protective lineman Mekhi Wingo say the exact same thing:”We’re coming.”But Kelly is a realist when he sits with ESPN in his office in June.”Look, Alabama has actually been a model of consistency year in

    and year out. Georgia has actually been a design of consistency year in and year out, “Kelly states.” We can’t hang that moniker yet. We went from last to initially– that’s not constant. So what does that leave us? The capability to win and be the best group that day.

    That’s it. So if you’re determining that, can we be the very best group on that particular day and beat anyone? Absolutely. However can we be consistent? That’s what we’re going to attempt to prove. “While the offense was strong overall, Kelly says,”There were some ups and downs. “Editor’s Picks 2 Related As he studied the movie from a season earlier, Kelly saw the excellent and the bad from his quarterback. And he was advised how early they had not precisely offered Daniels”the keys to the car. “Kelly states there were a lot of parameters on what Daniels could and could not do. So, naturally, when they spread out the field, backed him up in the shotgun and told him to drive, he wasn’t ready.”He had to

    discover how to do all those things, “Kelly says,”and by the end of the season he got respectable at it.”Daniels didn’t have to do much in a 63-7 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl win over Purdue, finishing 12 of 17 passes for 132 backyards and a goal. However Kelly believed he was”exceptional.” Kelly could feel Daniels ‘confidence. He liked seeing Daniels fit the ball into tight windows and press the offense vertically–” all the things we would have loved to have seen in Video game 1, however it was a procedure.”Daniels ended up with 2,913 backyards, 17 goals and 3 interceptions. While he threw the most catchable ball in the nation( 83 %catchable pass rate), he seldom took shots downfield, ranking 103rd in the rate of pass efforts 20-plus yards downfield(10.6% ). Kelly states we were watching a young QB mature. All Daniels needs to do is,”Let it go. “The question, however, is how much Kelly desires him to pack up and run, scrambling for additional yards. Since he did that a lot last season. He had 885 rushing yards and had more carries than LSU’s leading two running backs combined (186 to 173). Josh Williams, who ran for 552 lawns, does not mind. “If the defense provides Jayden an open lane every time,”he states,”I hope Jayden chooses 1,000 lawns. “But Kelly doesn’t have a precise number in mind. It’s not as easy as saying Daniels needs to have 10 or 11 or 12 brings per game, he says. What he’s searching for is whether Daniels fidgets in the pocket–” Is he leaving a good pocket simply to run? Or is that a compressed pocket and a collapsing pocket that he’s making a play out of? “If Daniels– a 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior– wants to end up being a first-round pick in the NFL draft, Kelly states the first thing he needs to do is enhance his pocket presence. That and making better anticipatory throws, letting the receiver run into area or discarding from defenders.While Daniels hasn’t made” a load”of those tosses, Kelly says,”He started making them later in the season.” Jim Nagy, a previous NFL scout who runs the Senior Bowl, agrees. He was at LSU’s 2022 season-opener against Florida State and could see simply

    how “discombobulated”the offense was and how uneasy Daniels was running it. Nagy says Daniels appeared”mad “at times.But Nagy was there once again in-person for the win over Ole Miss and followed along through the rest of the season, and what he saw led him to call Daniels the most better player in the country.

    He wasn’t best, Nagy states, but he stuck with his checks out longer and fit the ball into

    tighter windows.Nagy likes Daniels ‘composure, which teammates rave about. “Fourth quarter, 2 seconds left,”Williams states,”he’s going to be the calmest guy you have actually ever fulfilled.” Nagy likewise states Daniels is more athletic than he gets credit for. He was at the Manning Passing Academy and states there’s”

    no doubt” Daniels has an NFL-caliber arm.So is the Joe Burrow comparison fair? While Nagy’s reluctant to pin those expectations on anyone, he doesn’t dismiss it out of hand. “I’ll start by stating this: we have actually Jayden at the same spot on the board today that we had Joe going into his senior year,” Nagy says.”It’s essentially like a fringe Day 2-3 grade, kind of a fringe top-100 grade. And, guy, that was a wonderful year for Joe. Joe’s a quite unique person when it pertains to how he’s wired as a competitor and leader. However he’s in the exact same spot. And really similar– they didn’t ask too much of Jayden in 2015, much like they didn’t ask a great deal of Joe his first year there.” Joe addressed the bell and we’ll see if Jayden can do that.”Now does Daniels have the advantage of a Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson to toss to? Most likely not. That group was packed, producing 30 total

    NFL draft chooses from 2020-22. However Nagy states he believes Daniels will have much better security this season, which might go a long method in his development.If he can regularly browse the pocket and make the anticipatory tosses Kelly talked about, Nagy says,”Then now we’re cooking. ” LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels passed for 2,913 backyards with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions during his very first year in Baton Rouge after moving from Arizona State. He also hurried for 885 lawns and another 11 scores. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images ABOUT A MONTH after spending the week with the Mannings in Thibodaux, Daniels sells shorts and a Tee shirts for a sharp black fit and crisp white button-up t-shirt.

    At SEC media days in Nashville, Tennessee, he’s all set for his close-up, sporting a fresh haircut, a dazzling diamond-encrusted chain and chunky diamond stud earrings that catch the light of every electronic camera pointed in his direction.Asked about the pressure to continue the championship work on campus started by the baseball and ladies’s basketball teams, Daniels gives those players their props and says,”Hopefully we can follow up with one.”But that’s as far as he wants to go.”We have to take it day by day and actually just enjoy the procedure,” he says in pitch-perfect coachspeak.During a day of probing questions from hundreds of sound-bite-hungry reporters, Daniels reveals his trademarked fourth-quarter poise.

    That is, till a reporter asks him about his possibilities of winning the Heisman.”I imply …”he states prior to pausing a beat to compose himself.He smirks and chuckles nervously. “I do not actually take a look at that stuff like that,”he states.” I’m blessed and honored to be part of a distinguished award like that. Hopefully when I win football games, ideally my odds increase, however my main thing is truly simply concentrating on helping the team win football games. If specific success features it, then it comes with it.”Crisis averted.Daniels is a lot more comfortable speaking about the team and the work they have actually put in this offseason. He selects apart his first season at LSU with ease, saying how it was a” night and day”

    distinction from Arizona State– where he threw 32 touchdown passes in 29 games over three seasons– and how they learned as a group throughout that late slump versus Arkansas and Texas A&M,” You can’t simply head out there and think you’re going to roll past a team with a good record.” Get your preferred live sports, stories and originals

    with ESPN+, Disney+and Hulu.

    Update to a Disney Package plan and begin streaming something for everyone today! On the one hand, he says he desires the running backs to have more hurrying lawns than him this season. But on the other hand, “I ‘d simply state that’s probably the dynamic of my game that makes me that much more hazardous. “” So I do not wish to take that from my game,”he adds,”

    but I wish to keep growing as a quarterback and as a passer.”And where exactly does he think he can get better?”The deep ball,” he says. “Just letting it go and offering my guys a possibility to head out there and make a play. I felt that most likely the biggest leap that I took as a quarterback this offseason is developing that timing with those guys and knowing how they run paths and providing opportunities to go make plays downfield, which I understand they can do at a high level.”

    Daniels calls Malik Nabers, who broke out with a combined 291 backyards and two touchdowns against Georgia and Purdue, a” go-to”receiver with the kind of power and speed you can’t teach. Nabers, Kyren Lacy and Brian Thomas have all” stepped up and revealed out “this summer, Daniels says.And he’s positive in the development of the line, too, which he says gelled down the stretch. Last season, coaches attempted to cover for

    freshmen tackles Will Campbell and Emery Jones.” It’ll be less about that and more about exerting our will versus individuals,”

    Kelly states, adding that they’re hiring as if Campbell and Jones might get first-round grades after their junior seasons.”I feel like we can have a leading offense in the nation,”Daniels states in among his boldest statements of the day.Unlike Williams and Wingo, Daniels doesn’t state of LSU this season,”We’re coming. “It’s just something some of the guys say, he discusses, instead of a mantra or team slogan. “We feel in one’s bones what we can,”

    he states. “If we manage our business, we’ll probably be there.”There, as in, with a chance at betting a national championship.Wouldn’t that be a helluva leap for a quarterback and a coach to make after just one year in Baton Rouge?Daniels isn’t retreating from those lofty expectations.

    And he needs to understand better than anyone what they’re capable of.This is his group after all.

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