WEST LAFAYETTE -- Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said he needed to make a change at quarterback when he did during the team's 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
After an interception in the end zone of an errant pass by fifth-year senior quarterback Rob Henry, his second pick of the day, Hazell put in freshman Danny Etling. The Boilermakers trailed 27-7 when the 6-foot-3 Terre Haute native entered the game, and he was forced to throw nearly 40 times as Purdue tried to play catch-up.
Henry ended his game at 5 of 16 with two interceptions, 130 yards passing and a score. Etling went on to go 19 of 39 for two touchdowns, two interceptions and 241 passing yards.
"We had to do it," Hazell said of the change. "At that point in time, we turned it over down in the red zone and we needed to make a change to give ourselves an opportunity. We'll evaluate that situation as well."
Hazell named Henry the starter before Purdue's season-opener against Cincinnati, but the circumstances for the Boilermakers (1-4) require change. The team was No. 121 out of 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense, and the run game hasn't been able to gain traction because Purdue is often playing from behind.
Etling was excited to get his chance, but also had some nerves. He settled in a bit more before a late interception, but he also threw a pick that turned into a 62-yard return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Although it was a blowout loss, the freshman was critical of his mistakes in the pass-heavy second half.
"It's that interception for a touchdown that's going to kill us, and that's something I can't do in the future," he said. "I took too many sacks, in my opinion. That wasn't bad offensive line play, that was bad quarterback play. I was stepping right into the sacks – they were doing a great job, phenomenal, and I just can't do that to my linemen."
Hazell said he would decide if Etling is the starter going forward or if it is still Henry's job after further evaluation. The elder of the two looked despondent during the postgame press conference, but if he gets another chance, he will try to make more of it than he did Saturday.
"We still have a lot of games left, so hopefully we get some guys back and fly around with a lot of energy when we do play again," after the upcoming bye week, Henry said.
DeAngelo Yancey a bright spot for Boilermakers
There weren't many positives to glean from Purdue's loss other than Etling's show of potential at quarterback. But one player, freshman wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey, had a standout day.
Yancey had seven catches for 117 yards, including a 50-yard catch from Henry. That reception was the longest of the season for Purdue.
Etling went to the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Atlanta native for the bulk of his receptions.
"He's a great player, DeAngelo is," Etling said. "He always finds ways to get open, he's always communicating on the sideline and he's going to be a great player for us."
Greg Latta injured, Frankie Williams returning for Boilers
Senior defensive end Greg Latta suffered a hamstring injury late in the second quarter after pressuring NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch. Hazell said after the game that the flare-up has not been fully evaluated yet.
"I don't know how bad it is, so this will be a good time for him to get some rest," Hazell said, with a bye week ahead for the Boilermakers.
Sophomore cornerback Frankie Williams sat out after failing a concussion test Thursday. Hazell said he expects Williams will be cleared either Tuesday or Wednesday.