Is true freshman Danny Etling about to become Purdue's new starting quarterback?
A bigger question -- if he does take over, will it last the season? That likely depends on whether Etling avoids the turnovers and inaccuracy set to cost senior Rob Henry.
What's not going to happen, coach Darrell Hazell said, is a starting battle.
“There won't be an open competition.”
Henry has thrown six interceptions this season, with two being returned for touchdowns. He had two interceptions and a fumble in less than two quarters in last Saturday's loss to Northern Illinois. He completes 54 percent of his passes for 832 yards and four touchdowns while directing the Big Ten's worst offense.
Etling replaced Henry against Northern Illinois. He was 19-for-39 for 241 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. One of his interceptions was returned for a touchdown. Still, Etling showed promising arm strength, mobility and decision making.
“I thought he moved around well in the pocket,” Hazell said during Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. “He created some big offensive plays for us. He threw the ball outside extremely well.
“Obviously, he's got to take care of the ball, too. But you saw there's a little bit of energy with him out there. I felt we were able to get the ball to the wide receivers really for the first time with some consistency outside the hashes."
Hazell said he'd tell the players his decision on Tuesday.
If he becomes the starter, Etling will have time to prepare. The Boilers (1-4) have a bye week and won't play again until hosting Nebraska on Oct. 12.
The last true freshman to start at quarterback for Purdue was Sean Robinson, who was forced into action on Nov. 6, 2010, because of quarterback injuries. Robinson now plays linebacker.
There could be more changes besides quarterback as the Boilers look to end their struggles. Hazell said younger players will get more practice work this week.
“We're going to try to put more guys in the rotation and see how they respond. We'll find that out in the next couple days, if they're ready for the action or not.
“Where we are at 1-4, you have to look at everything. Don't panic. I'm not saying panic. But you have to look at everything and find out what areas you can get better in and then you make those adjustments. That's the whole goal.”
Also, Hazell is still gathering information on arrested freshman receivers B.J. Knauf and Jordan Woods. They were arrested on Monday on suspicion of theft after allegedly stealing two tie bars worth $20 each from Kohl's.
"It's very disappointing,” Hazell said. “We always talk to our guys about doing right things, and they made a bad decision, both of them. We'll make the necessary discipline actions when we find out all the information."
Knauf has emerged as one of Purdue's best receivers with nine catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Woods has yet to play this season.
“You take every incident and you take it for what its worth and then you apply the proper penalty for what the offense was," Hazell said. “We'll make a decision in the next day or so on what will happen to those young men and then we'll move forward."
Indefinite suspensions are possible.