Purdues future starts today.
The Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) roll out freshman quarterback Danny Etling for his first career start as Purdue takes on Nebraska at noon at Ross-Ade Stadium.
It will be a tough test. Luckily for Purdue, the 6-foot-2, 218-pounder has been studying.
Hes gotten so much better since the beginning of the season, and its all about his preparation, coach Darrell Hazell said of the Terre Haute native. He prepares like a nine-year vet in the league. He studies film. Hes in there at 6 in the morning. He takes meticulous three, four, five-page notes, and he wants to know the answers.
The Cornhuskers (4-1, 1-0) have been a tough team to figure out.
Nebraska is usually known for its defense but has struggled this season, giving up 445.4 yards per game. That ties the Cornhuskers at No. 98 in the country in total defense and has resulted in giving up 27.4 points per game.
While Bo Pelinis team lacks its normal luster defensively, it has been explosive on offense.
Nebraska is No. 19 in total offense with 501.2 yards per game, and nearly 300 of those yards coming on runs. The Cornhuskers average 291.6 rushing yards per game, which puts them nine yards off Wisconsins average for the season.
The Badgers put up 388 rushing yards against Purdue in a 41-10 Boilermakers loss Sept. 21.
Where I think Nebraska has done a great job is in more deceptive-type runs, you know, some of the quarterback zone-read stuff and the power off of those things and the speed sweep, Hazell said.
Junior running back Ameer Abdullah, despite his 5-9, 190-pound frame, is averaging 138 yards per game for the Cornhuskers and could expose a Boilermakers defense that has made poor tackling a habit this season. Purdue will catch a break today as Nebraska senior quarterback Taylor Martinez is out of the lineup with a turf-toe injury. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. will make his third straight start at quarterback.
Hazell is willing to bet lineup changes on offense and defense during the bye week could help Purdue solve some of its problems.
I think what weve done is weve really taken a step back and really evaluated what weve done for the first part of the season and where we need to go, he said.
Those changes will likely include a more spread-out offensive, as well as a bunch of young players on offense and defense.
Dan Monteroso, a receiver who broke his collarbone in the preseason and was cleared this week, will be one of the freshmen to watch.
In camp, I tried to compete for a starting job, and I want to come out and keep doing that, Monteroso said after practice Monday. It feels good to be back in pads.
After a poor start to the season and a bye week to sit on it, many other Boilers feel the same way.
Theyre hungry, Hazell said. Theyre extremely hungry, and they understand that theyve underachieved a little bit. Its our job as a staff that that doesnt continue to happen. Well keep pushing them, and theyll keep playing hard.