Offenses struggle to score in Purdue spring game
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Danny Etling is the Purdue football team’s returning starting quarterback. Fellow sophomore Austin Appleby has been pushing him this spring during practice. And freshman David Blough threw the only touchdown pass during Saturday’s Gold and Black spring game in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Second-year coach Darrell Hazell clearly was not ready to name his starter for the 2014 season after the Gold rallied for a 12-7 victory against the Black.
Etling, who finished 10 of 17 for 96 yards and no interceptions, directed the game-winning 12-play, 59-yard fourth-quarter touchdown drive that gave the Gold a victory. Redshirt freshman Keyante Green’s 4-yard TD run with 2:48 remaining provided the winning margin.
Blough, who split time between each team, was a combined 13 of 20 for 147 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Danny Anthrop on the third quarter’s final play, which gave the Black team a brief 7-6 lead until Green’s TD won it.
Appleby struggled, turning the ball over twice during the first half, leading to a pair of field goals from junior Thomas Meadows, whose kicks covered 22 and 27 yards.
Appleby was only 7 of 16 for 21 yards, and was intercepted twice, including one from junior cornerback Anthony Brown that killed the Black team’s final attempt with 1:28 remaining at the Gold team’s 20-yard line.
”We definitely wanted to try to eat up all the time we could on that winning drive,” Etling said. ”We had a couple of things that we had seen them doing that we really liked. We saw they were bringing some pressure a couple of times, so we changed up what we wanted to do with our receivers.
”We had some great runs by Keyante in that drive and some great blocking by the offensive line. When we got down there near the end, we definitely got more confidence. I knew we could punch it in.”
THE WEAPONS. Hazell said it is obvious the Purdue offense will be at its best when it spreads the field and features seniors Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt along with Anthrop, whether those three are lined up in the backfield or at wide receiver. Hunt rushed nine times for 54 yards and caught nine passes for 73 yards for the Winning Gold team. Mostert rushed 10 times for 42 yards and caught two passes for the Black, and Anthrop had five receptions for 91 yards, including the 41-yard, third-quarter touchdown.
POSTER BOY. Senior defensive end Ryan Russell is featured on the 2014 Purdue football poster for fans, and he showed why on Saturday, compiling a game-best 11 tackles, including 3.5 sacks for losses totaling 21 yards. Boilermakers quarterbacks were sacked seven times, although in an effort to eliminate possible injuries, referees blew the ball dead as soon as a pass rusher was about to lay a hand on Etling or Appleby.
”This is quite an honor for me to be on that poster,” Russell said. ”I remember when I came in as a freshman and saw Ryan Kerrigan on that poster. I thought at the time that it would be pretty cool to be on that poster before I graduated.”
Kerrigan, a former standout Boilermaker defensive lineman, now plays for the Washington Redskins.
WORK IN PROGRESS. Hazell said it is difficult to get an accurate evaluation on the offensive line from this scrimmage because there was so much mixing and matching of first- and second- team players. An upperclassmen organized draft selected the teams early in the week, and according to starting center Robert Kugler, many linemen who had not played alongside each other during the first 14 spring practices were teammates Saturday. While Purdue’s center and guard positions are pretty well set entering the fall, the tackle slots are up for grabs, although sophomore tackle J.J. Prince improved throughout the spring and drew praise from Hazell.
NEW LOOK STADIUM. Athletic director Morgan Burke spoke with fans before Saturday’s game and reports that within two or three years, Purdue hopes to renovate its south end zone, replacing old bleachers and installing a giant scoreboard that will include lots of videos. Burke said the project will cost from $30 million to as much as $60 million. He also said with the Big Ten Conference moving in the direction of playing more night games, Purdue will look at installing permanent lights in the stadium.