All eyes were on freshman quarterback Danny Etling as he recorded his first start for the Boilermakers. Many anticipated Etling would have the ability to jumpstart the Purdue season, or to at least start showing some signs of improvement. This was not the case.
With all the hype throughout the past two weeks, Etling's performance was disappointing in comparison. He threw for 184 yards, posted just 14 completions, added an interception, and was sacked five times, once resulting in a safety. It wasn't the performance that was hoped for. He did finish with a last-minute touchdown pass, putting Purdue on the board and allowing it to avoid a shutout.
After the game Etling went into the press conference with a positive attitude and a promise to review the game film and start working to get better.
"I really want to get in and watch the film," said Etling after the game. "It's not good enough yet. Obviously, I've got to play better, and I think I'm going to play better. I'm going to learn more about a game like this than I would in success. I'm going to get in [the film room] and watch it. I'm going to get better."
Etling's first appearance came in Purdue's loss to Northern Illinois, where he brought life to a sputtering offense. But that was a weaker defense; not Nebraska's vaunted Blackshirts. The quarterback isn't making comparisons of the two contests.
"It's a different team and different kind of plan," Etling said. "This was a full game and that was only the second half, it's different situations."
Even with a five-game losing streak, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell still has a positive attitude knowing he has a young quarterback who can turn the team around.
With a game and a half under his belt, fresh off facing a tough Nebraska defense, Etling's potential is still uncertain. He also needs help from the players around him to turn the season around.
With Purdue playing 15 freshmen, this team has to grow quickly in order to finish the season on a positive note.