FORT WAYNE – The announcement had to wait until after Purdue’s practice Wednesday, but the jerseys said all you needed to know about the Boilermakers’ quarterback battle.
Fifth-year senior Rob Henry, the starter for the first five games, was wearing No. 22 and working with defensive backs. Danny Etling, the true freshman who came in for Henry late in the first half of a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois, was taking snaps.
The Etling Era has begun for Purdue.
You saw there’s a little bit of energy with him out there, Hazell said Tuesday of Etling’s performance against NIU. I thought we were able to get the ball to the wide receivers really for the first time with some consistency outside the hashes on Saturday.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Terre Haute native became the first quarterback to take snaps as a freshman since Sean Robinson in 2010. Now, he’ll be the first to get a start since Robinson, who moved to linebacker for the Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) in the spring.
It is a pretty surreal feeling, Etling told GoldAndBlack.com Wednesday. I’m trying to be pretty casual about it, taking it in stride, not be too high, not be too low. Just try to do my best and grasp everything we’re going to be trying to put in the game plan and just keep getting better and improving each game.
I’m just so happy to finally have the opportunity to try to go out there and help my teammates win a game.
That will be Oct. 12, when Purdue plays Nebraska in a noon game in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers are on a bye week, and that gives both Etling and Henry time to adjust to their new positions.
Etling completed 19 of 39 passes for 241 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions after coming in during the final possession of the first half against the Huskies.
Despite having to throw so much to try to get Purdue back into the game, and the pressure that put on him, Etling bemoaned the turnovers and the three sacks he took during the loss.
I got to play better, he said after the game. I went in, we were down by 20, and if you look at the final score we lost by more than 20. Obviously, I can’t play like a freshman.
Etling will get a couple top receiving weapons back in the coming weeks, which could help him and Purdue round out the season on a positive note.
Redshirt freshman B.J. Knauf, who was arrested Monday on a felony charge of theft, received a two-game suspension but will return to the team. Jordan Woods, who was also arrested on the charge, has been suspended indefinitely for a series of issues leading up to Monday’s incident.
I just want to say how ashamed and how sorry I am for the way I represented this community and this university, said Knauf, who is second on the team with 185 all-purpose yards this season. I’ve taken steps already, and I’m going to continue to do so, to better my image and hopefully come back and rebuild my image.
Freshman wideout Dan Monteroso could also be back soon, Hazell said. Monteroso, who showed promise during preseason camp, broke his collarbone during practice Aug. 15 but is close to the green light for full contact, Hazell told reporters Wednesday.