Jayden Daniels Confident To Take Next Step as Elite SEC QB In 2023

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is entering his second year as a starter after transferring in from Arizona State.

“LSU is special to me. Like you said, the fan base and everything. Just the state of Louisiana has took me as one of their own. I kind of feel like I’m from Louisiana now in a way. Even though I’m from California, I’m from the West Coast, they took me in as their own, treated me- respected me and just the transition coming from Arizona State to LSU is night and day just what the fans exemplify, the energy that they bring each and every week to our games and how much they care about us and how much they care about LSU football is second to none.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

When Daniels made the transition from the Pac-12 to the SEC, he was not only trying to adjust to playing on a new team in a new conference, but he was also working on trying to win the starting quarterback competition.

“The biggest thing I see the difference from Pac-12 to SEC is the big boys up front, you know, with the O-line and how big they are. You have guys like, for example, Maason Smith. That’s a humongous human being that can move like that. You know, you are playing against those guys each and every week. I say just to be a successful SEC quarterback you have to go in there and just really prepare-prepare like a pro. If not, you know, you might get exposed in this league because there are some great players out there playing against you.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Daniels did end up winning the job, but it took a couple of games for him to feel comfortable in Mike Denbrock’s offense. Playing on the road against the nation’s most talented players in some of the hardest environments to play in took a lot of getting used to.

“I mean, one of the hardest things transferring to the SEC and being a new quarterback is you don’t know what to expect. When you travel to road games, going to Auburn, going to Florida, very hostile environments, and you don’t really know what to expect with the fan base and with the team and how those teams feed off the energy of their fans.”

“You know, they’re very talented, and if you get down early, you know you might be in trouble.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels
LSU QB Jayden Daniels ran for a single season school record 885 yards and 11 touchdowns as a quarterback in 2022. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

At the beginning of the season, the offense was off to a pedestrian start, but for Daniels, the moment that he thought everything slowed down for him was actually the loss against Tennessee.

“Against Tennessee. Even though we lost, but against Tennessee, I felt comfortable running the
offense after that. We kind of just took off as an offense of what we were capable of doing and what we knew that we could do. That’s getting explosive plays. Going out there and really just taking shots and giving those guys a chance to make plays. So I would say the Tennessee game.”

“I mean, we started off wrong in the Tennessee game. Obviously opened the kick, fumbled. With a high-power offense like that with a great team on their high horse, they got on us early, and we just didn’t score enough to keep up with them. But after that, it just gave us insight and light to the situation that we knew we control how we wanted to finish our season. Limit the mistakes and go out there and make plays, we would put ourselves in the situation to be in the SEC Championship Game.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

After the Tennessee loss, Daniels showed why he was the starter as he had one of the most impressive three game runs that you will see from a SEC quarterback. Not only did he win the next three games, but he put up some impressive numbers while doing so. In Daniels’ three game stretch against Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama, he completed 71% of his passes for 779 yards and seven touchdowns while also showing his dynamic rushing ability with 260 yards and seven more touchdowns on the ground. Daniels earned two SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors in the three game span.

The Tigers’ dual threat quarterback showed what kind of special player he is capable of being when he had a three touchdown performance against Alabama in Tiger Stadium while completing the game winning two point conversion that helped LSU reach the SEC Championship Game. He and his head coach Brian Kelly both came in with question marks if they could both compete at a high level in the SEC and silenced a lot of doubters with the win against Alabama. For Daniels, it was a huge step forward for not only him, but for the program.

“It’s meant a lot obviously. He lost to Alabama in the National Championship game, so it meant
a lot to him to get that win. It meant a lot to the state of Louisiana to get that win against Alabama at home for the first time in a while. It’s just been fun seeing Coach Kelly enjoy his time at LSU,
because if your head coach is not enjoying it, then the players are going to look at it and not enjoy it also. So he is enjoying his time here. He is enjoying coaching us, and we enjoy being around him.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Daniels is enjoying his time too as he is entering this offseason as the proven number one option under center. Entering this season as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, Daniels feels that the offense is only scratching the surface after last season.

“I mean, to answer your question, I feel like that’s what we need to do is to take the offense to
the next level. I feel like we can have a top offense in the country, you know, going out there, and we have the guys– we have the talent out there, guys that are special, to really go out there and make those plays.”

“This summer we’ve just been working hard at it, working hard at our timing. Even when we do our player-led practices and stuff like that, you know, we’re giving guys opportunities to go make plays. That’s the biggest thing that I say that we could take that leap to make the offense.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels
LSU QB Jayden Daniels has worked on improving his vertical passing game during the offseason in order to take the next step at quarterback for 2023. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

In a way, entering this season is reminiscent of how Joe Burrow entered his second season at LSU as Burrow had a strong end to his first season in Baton Rouge after coming in as a transfer from another Power Five program. Now, it is unreasonable to expect the same numbers from Daniels as what Burrow put up in that historic 2019 National Championship season, but Daniels believes that the offense can be an explosive one, especially if the end of last season carries over to the start of 2023.

“From my first game to the bowl game, I would just say being comfortable within the system. First
game, first everything. First game with a new team, new coaches, so you didn’t really know what to expect or where to go. Fast-forward to the bowl game, you can see how much more comfortable everybody was with each other, how much comfortable the coaches were with the players and
the players were with each other as a team and also with the coaches. Moving forward to this year, what I hope to change is week one, start with a win. Last year we started with a loss. I
want to start with a win this year.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Jayden Daniels’ first season in Baton Rouge was one of the best statistically in LSU history as he set school records for rushing yards by a QB (885) and rushing touchdowns by a QB (11) while also throwing for 2,913 yards and 17 touchdowns to only three interceptions. If year two is any indication of a big improvement from year one, then this could be another Heisman like campaign for a LSU quarterback, but for Daniels, his focus is on one thing only and that is winning games.

“I mean, I don’t really look at stuff like that. I’m blessed and honored to be part of a prestigious
award like that. Hopefully when I win football games, hopefully my odds go up, but my main thing is really just focusing on helping the team win football games. If individual success comes with
it, then it comes with it.”

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Click below for more SEC Media Coverage articles regarding the LSU Tigers!