Second-year head coach Darrell Hazell has probably hit his ceiling at Purdue, and sadly, that ceiling may have been 6-7 in 2012. Given Purdue’s brutal schedule and that their only win was a 20-14 squeaker against FCS Indiana State, 1-11 seems likely.
Purdue’s own staff even seems to have given 2013 up for loss. Amidst a plague of injuries, Hazell announced last week that senior quarterback Rob Henry was changing positions to safety, leaving true freshman Danny Etling. Etling replaced Henry in the second half of a 55-24 slaughter at the hands of Northern Illinois. On 39 passing attempts (in one half!) Etling completed 19 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, but also two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The young quarterback must show the coaches a lot of potential for the future in order for them to dump their senior (and not just bench him, but switch his position) and essentially throw their freshman to the wolves in what is shaping up to be a nightmare season for the Boilermakers. All in all, seven freshman contributed on offense in the 55-24 loss. Hopefully Hazell can convince his superiors that he deserves more time, because eventually he’ll have a lot of experience.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
Stop the run, and it shouldn’t be too difficult. Through five games leading rusher Akeem Hunt has totaled just 193 yards on the ground, and has scored zero touchdowns. As a team, the Boilermakers average just 3.1 yards per carry for the year.
Kind of makes you appreciate Ameer Abdullah, doesn’t it?
To put it bluntly, Purdue can’t run the ball. And often they don’t find themselves in a position to be able to run the ball, given that they have played from behind almost the entire season. And since the passing game is now in the hands of a true freshman, if NU can stuff the run and force Purdue to throw, it’ll be a long day for the Boilermakers. Etling, in terms of accuracy, isn’t quite as sharpened as you’d normally like your starting quarterback in an air-it-out offense to be and his receivers are young. They’ll make mistakes and hopefully the Blackshirts, who have intercepted ten passes in 2013, can make some of them cost.
Do your thing on offense. Purude is susceptible to giving up big plays on defense. With all the youth on the team, NU can expect that a fairly conservative offense will wear down Purdue, and quickly. Wisconsin ran for 388 yards on 48 carries against Purdue, and only needed to complete 12 passes en route to a 42-10 rout. Expect much of the same from NU, who comes into the game averaging over 50 rushing attempts per game.
Since Taylor Martinez is still sitting with turf toe, Tommy Armstrong may attempt even fewer. Against a porous Illinois secondary the redshirt freshman attempted just 13 throws.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
For NU fans, hopefully a boring game that’s locked up by halftime and around 50 rushing attempts against a defense that can’t stop it. Abdullah, Imani Cross, and hopefully even Terrell Newby all get in on the action and run for about 350. Nebraska takes this one 50-17 and eases some of the heat on Bo Pelini going into another bye week.
NAMES TO REMEMBER: QB Danny Etling, RB Akeem Hunt, WRs DeAngelo Yancey and Cameron Posey