With Purdue coming to East Lansing to square off with Michigan State on Saturday, Boiler Sports Report's Chris Emma was kind enough to answer five questions about the Boilermakers and their season so far.
Mike Wilson: Purdue shifted to go with true freshman Danny Etling at QB and, from the things I have seen, he seems to have a live arm and some good raw skills. Why was that change made and what has Etling done in limited experience thus far?
Chris Emma: Simply put, it had to be done. Rob Henry struggled to lead the offense and this team has seen so many woes. It became time to start building for the future, putting in the promising freshman. Etling is a much more capable quarterback, but he just wasn't ready to lead the team in August. Now, he's a lot more confident and earned his shot.
Wilson: Another shift that took place is the defense against Nebraska as the Boilers now have three down linemen and run with five defensive backs. What brought the shift about and what have the results been so far in a limited sample size?
Chris Emma: Before the switch up on defense, Purdue rarely saw a third down. Against Nebraska, the Boilermakers forced 21 third-down attempts, but the Huskers converted on 11. I guess you can call that a measure of progress. Regardless, this defense has a long way to go. This new look gives the defense a much better shot.
Wilson: Statistically, Purdue hasn't been moving the ball much so far this season. What type of game plan do you expect from the Boilers as they come up to East Lansing to face a stout Michigan State defense?
Emma: In facing a physical, bruising Spartan defense, you'll likely see Purdue spread the field as much as possible. The Boilers aren't going to win a war in the trenches. Etling is able to make all the throws and has a slew of talented freshmen receivers. If Purdue can get its playmakers in the open field, it can have some success.
Wilson: It looked like Purdue was going to make some noise when it took Notre Dame right to the wire and had the Irish down for a while. Since then, things seem to have gone downhill. What has been the biggest issue for Purdue early in Big Ten play?
Emma: Oh my, where to begin? The offense hasn't moved the football, the defense hasn't made stops. At least the special teams have been strong. Frankly, this is just a team that lacks the talent to compete with some of the Big Ten's best. Teams like Wisconsin, Nebraska and even Indiana State have proven this.
Wilson: Obviously Purdue is in the rebuilding phase and is taking its lumps, but what is the sense of the future with Darrell Hazell at the helm now?
This season's struggles have brought out the question marks about whether Hazell can lead the program to the promise land. That's how bad it's gotten through six games. I do believe in Hazell, and this season is not any indication on his coaching abilities. The feeling in West Lafayette is gloomy, but the future could be bright.