NASHVILLE — Jayden Daniels is feeling very comfortable these days. And why would he not? The LSU quarterback comes into his second and final season with the Tigers as the unquestioned leader of the team. He is even in the early Heisman Trophy conversations. However, Daniels knows that while the comfort has risen, so have the expectations.
“From my first game to the bowl game, I would just say being comfortable within the system,” Daniels said. “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.”
Year one for Daniels and the Tigers began with a loss to Florida State in New Orleans. However, there were signs of Daniels’ abilities in the second half of that 24-23 defeat. That momentum carried into the next four games, as LSU won all four and Daniels continued to look for comfortable.
Interestingly enough, Daniels pointed to the next game, a 40-13 loss to Tennessee, as the game where he started to feel comfortable, saying “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.”
That game came inside Tiger Stadium. But Daniels also got a chance to experience road games in the SEC.
“I mean, one of the hardest things transferring to the SEC and being a new quarterback is you don’t know what to expect,” said Daniels at SEC Media Days on Monday. “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.”
A year of experience within the conference means Daniels is feeling that much more comfortable in hostile environments. That will be key, as LSU faces rivals like Ole Miss and Alabama away from Tiger Stadium.
And lastly, Daniels is more comfortable thanks to the program and fan base that took him in.
“LSU is special to me… the fan base and everything,” Daniels said. “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.”
Those fans will be looking for Daniels to lead LSU back to the promise land. If he is able to do so, we can likely thank the comfort he gained in year one as a Tiger.
ESPN Southwest Louisiana’s SEC Media Days coverage is presented by Beal & Hebert.