INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Purdue coach Darrell Hazell made the expected choice at quarterback Wednesday, selecting Danny Etling the new starter.
Then Hazell pulled a surprise by sending the former starter, Rob Henry, out in a defensive jersey.
For Hazell, the decision came down to one thing: He believes Etling gives the Boilermakers’ struggling offense the best chance to win now.
“I just thought that he gave us a boost. He gave us boost and he’s going to be a good player for us,” Hazell said. “I love Rob. He’s the most unselfish guy I’ve been around in a long time. We talked yesterday and one of the things he said was if there’s anything I can do to help the football team I’ll do it.”
Hazell waited until Wednesday to make the decision public, though there was little doubt which direction he was leaning.
The switch came late in the first half of Saturday’s 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois, after Henry stopped two potential scoring drives with interceptions. The fifth-year senior finished the game 5 of 16 for 130 yards with one TD pass. Through five games, Henry’s passer efficiency rating (100.7) was the second-worst among all Big Ten starters.
Etling gave the Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) an immediate spark, leading the team to a field goal. But the moment vanished when Northern Illinois scored two quick second-half touchdowns. Etling finished 19 of 39 for 241 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in his college debut.
The move meant Etling lost his chance of having a red-shirt season in 2013.
While some consider the 6-foot-2, 218-pound freshman to be Purdue’s quarterback of the future, Hazell believes Etling is Purdue’s best hope this season. Hazell noted Tuesday that Etling was able to get the ball to receivers outside the hash marks more effectively Saturday.