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Purdue Football: Why Starting QB Danny Etling Was the Right Choice

Sep 28, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Danny Etling (5) passes the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Ross Ade Stadium. Northern Illinois won 55-24. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
John OverbyContributor IOctober 3, 2013

It’s official.

Purdue Head Coach Darrell Hazell has named freshman Danny Etling the team’s starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, the previous starter, Rob Henry, will move to safety, making him the second former starting quarterback on the defensive side of the ball for the Boilermakers.

And with the decision, Hazell has made it clear that his eyes are on the future.

And he has picked the perfect time to make the switch.

Now 1-4 on the season, Purdue will have a tough time making a bowl game this season, having to win five of their last seven games: Nebraska, at Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, at Penn State, Illinois and at Indiana.

With the team on a bye this week, now is the time to throw their freshman quarterback into the fire, giving him a full two weeks to practice with the first-team offense. He’ll then be able to face some quality BIG conference opponents, a task that will show the coaching staff how resilient he is.

When Etling took over on the last series of the first half in their matchup against Northern Illinois, he showed glimpses of what could be to come.

His total performance for the game (19 for 39 with 241 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions) wasn’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but he did inject some life into the offense.

But, even so, he knows that he’ll have to improve on the mistakes that he made in that game.

“The team has worked too hard to have a kid back there that’s playing like a freshman,” Etling said, according to Indystar.com. “I have to play beyond my years and keep going forward and keep improving. I know my teammates are going to expect that of me and demand it of me, and they’re going to help me be successful."

Henry, on the other hand, had his share of ups and downs to start the season, and his stats weren’t horrific (81 for 151 with 832 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions).

But it was clear that he was not the right fit for Hazell’s pro-style offense.

With Henry at the helm, the team only averaged 17 points per game, last in the BIG by more than 11 points per game. That also ties them for 113 nationally.

And the teams’ 301.6 total yards per game ranks them last in the Big Ten and 119 nationally.

It was time for a change, although Hazell said there were many other aspects to the offense that aren’t working.

“It wasn’t one person, and you’ve got to understand that,” Hazell said, according to Mike Carmin of JCOnline. “There’s a lot more than one thing going on. We’re trying to fix them all, and that’s where we’re headed.”

Regardless of any other potential changes, the move of Etling to starting quarterback will be the first step in seeing what is in store for the future of Boilermakers football.

And it gives Purdue fans something they haven’t had in a long time: hope.

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