As Rob Henry moves to the defensive side of the ball for the Purdue Boilermakers this weekend room for Danny Etling has opened up under center. Etling replaced Henry for coach Darrell Hazell in last week’s loss to Northern Illinois and will be making his first start at home as the Boilermakers host the Nebraska Cornhuskers this weekend.
What does Etling bring to the table for the Boilermakers? That is still an unknown at this point. What the staff is aware of is that Etling is a large presence in the pocket. Etling stands at 6-foot-3 and in his high school days he operated mostly in the pocket. Etling also has a big arm and can put the ball down the field. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers Etling may be a work in progress as he lacks mobility, and with the current state of his team’s offensive line he may be asked to improve upon his elusiveness. The staff is not expecting Etling to take off on 30-yard runs but to merely avoid the sack. Etling has been credited to have great vision. If he can use that vision to see the rush coming and move in the pocket to evade the pressure he can use that big arm of his to get the ball out to an open receiver.
Etling also has great touch which shows he does not rely solely on his arm strength to get the ball to his receivers. Also he has been coached to have a very good mental clock, meaning he will not hold onto the ball too long. If he feels like he needs to attempt to progress the ball down field with his feet he will attempt to do so, but fans should not expect to see him do so in big chunks of yards at a time.
On the positive side for the Boilermaker faithful Etling is a great talent to have on the roster. It may be sad to see Rob Henry fade from the spotlight, but the anticipation of what may be coming with Etling’s skill set has to be exciting. If Etling can develop as a leader this year and help raise the level of play from those around him he will have had a successful season. When Henry led his team as a freshman he was rewarded by being named a team captain the following season. If Etling can do something similar he will have made great strides for the program.
Will this transition make Purdue relevant this season? The answer is no. What will make Purdue a significant team is if they continue to scrap and can seize their few opportunities to shine. If the Boilermakers can give Etling opportunities to showcase his big arm he could potentially help the team in their requiting process. What the Boilermakers are so badly missing this year is playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. There are very few skill players for any quarterback to get the ball to on this team. A competitive year for Etling this year could definitely help the Boilermakers in years to come.