There were very few positives in yesterday's game, but one of them was the emergence of a couple more freshmen hat played big minutes and had major offensive contributions. DeAngelo Yancey had already emerged as a surprise contributor at wide receiver from day one. Danny Etling, meanwhile, came off the bench for his first career action to throw a pair of touchdown passes and over 200 yards in just over a half of play.
Yes, Etling still had a pair of interceptions, but he got the offense moving and even ran the hurry-up well. Yancey was often a favorite target of him in the second half. Technically, Yancey caught two of his passes from Rob Henry in the first half, but he finished the day with seven catches for 117 yards. He was a much-needed deep threat in the vertical passing game with a 50 yards reception and a 20 yard reception.
Purdue has not had a vertical passing game in some time, but Yancey is quickly emerging as the much-needed big outside receiver. Already he has nine catches for 149 yards on the season. He is averaging a team-best 16.6 yards per reception. What makes his emergence so surprising is that Dolapo Macarthy was expected to be the big receiver Purdue needed, while Gary Bush had experience as Purdue's best returning receiver. The two have combined for only six catches for 39 yards, with Macarthy getting his first reception of the season yesterday.
The 50-yard catch from Henry yesterday was Purdue's longest pass of the season. It opened things up for Etling,w ho found Yancey five times after halftime. One was a pass down to the one yard line to set up Etling's second TD to Justin Sinz.
I saw in the comments yesterday that people were decrying the offense. Well, for the first time yesterday the offense was moving the football even before the scrubs came in for NIU. The offense generated a season best 524 yards, including 371 through the air. The running game was very good before Henry's critical interception on 3rd and 2 in NIU territory, then the passing game moved well afterward as Purdue played catch up. Etling ended up attempting 37 passes in the second half, but he had to when we trailed by 24 once he got the ball.
These are all promising signs in the gloom of 1-4 while being on the wrong end of three blowouts. The Boilers still have a long way to go, but Etling was promising in his debut and it certainly looks like he has a classmate that could be an exciting connection over the next 3.5 years.