It lasted all of four weeks, 29 minutes and 25 seconds, but the Rob Henry era of the 2013 Purdue Boilermaker season is over. While not official, it is a safe bet that Henry will no longer see action under center after the Northern Illinois Huskies throttled Henry and the Purdue offense on their way to a 55-24 victory.
Henry was able to lead the Boilermakers to an early 7-3 lead, but his inability to move the offense down the field — an issue he has had all season — cost Purdue any chance of beating the Huskies. By the time Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell pulled Henry, the Huskies led the Boilermakers 27-7.
Anyone who has watched a Purdue football game this season can attest to Henry being unable to push the offense down field and cap off the drive with any kind of score. In the first four games, Henry scored a total of five touchdowns, three passing and two rushing, with all three of his passing touchdowns coming against Notre Dame.
The Huskies’ defense was able to hold Henry to 130 yards passing, one touchdown and two interceptions, and were leading 27-7 when true freshman Danny Etling entered the game. Etling immediately led the Boilermakers 23 yards, in 35 seconds, to set up a Paul Griggs’ 47-yard field goal to end the first half.
Etling played the entire second half, finishing 19-of-39 for 241 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was an impressive half for the true freshman’s first collegiate game. Etling also became the first true freshman to play under center at Purdue since Sean Robinson in 2010.
It would be tough to argue that Henry should see anymore playing time under center for the rest of the season. By Hazell playing Etling, that means he can no longer redshirt the freshman, so there is no point in benching the freshman either. It was a move that has been debated since the offseason, and Hazell can’t undo what he did. But Henry could still show value at wide receiver, a position he played last season, and provide veteran guidance, not only to the team, but to Etling.
It’s been a rough season for Purdue fans, one that no one truly saw coming, but pulling Henry was the best decision Hazell has made all year. Giving Etling a chance to learn, without the stress of having to win week after week, will be a good thing for the future of Purdue football. Henry gave five years to Purdue and his glory time has come to an end.