WEST LAFAYETTE – The Danny Etling Era, and the rest of the changes that came with it, didn’t start well for Purdue on Saturday.
Purdue suffered its third consecutive defeat of more than 30 points in a 44-7 loss to Nebraska at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Etling, a freshman, struggled in his first start for the Boilermakers (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten). He was 14 for 35 for 184 yards, an interception and a touchdown. The 6-foot-3 quarterback was sacked five times, including a 17-yard sack that resulted in a safety with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
That hit by former Purdue commitment Randy Gregory, now a freshman defensive end at Nebraska, gave the Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-0) a 30-0 lead.
I’m going to learn more from a game like this than I would success, Etling said. I need to step up in the pocket and not try to do too much – that was the biggest thing. And holding onto the ball too long, obviously.
If any good came of the game offensively, it is that Etling found a top target in fellow freshman DeAngelo Yancey.
Yancey, who had seven catches for 107 yards in a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois, had five receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska.
I think he’s going to be an exceptional player, coach Darrell Hazell said. He’s big, he’s quick, he’s got speed, soft hands and he’s starting to develop a chemistry with Danny. It is a bright spot for us, but we got to get better in a lot of other areas.
The Boilermakers also rolled out some defensive changes.
Senior defensive tackle Bruce Gaston moved to defensive end and had six tackles and a sack.
Junior defensive ends Ryan Russell and Jalani Phillips shifted to linebacker as Hazell made the move to an odd-man front.
The change sparked the defense early.
I’m not sure what happened later, Russell said. That’s definitely something I have to look at on film and get corrected, especially playing at a position where you can never study enough.
Three freshmen – Ra’Zahn Howard (tackle), Jake Replogle (end) and Evan Panfil (end) – made debuts on the defensive line, as well, and freshman Austin Logan got his first career interception in the loss.
Despite the positives, Purdue had the same issues it has all season: poor tackling and missed assignments.
Hazell said the lopsided loss means nothing is certain for this team. Purdue might go with its new look, or it might have to try something else to halt this skid.
We got to look at the film tomorrow and see exactly where we are, again, personnel-wise, Hazell said. The game goes by, and a lot of things are happening, and you don’t want to make an assessment right now until you actually see the film and see exactly what you need to fix.