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April 8, 2013

Etling making strides; notes

Before spring football started, Danny Etling's goal was to play well enough to give him a chance to get on the field as a true freshman in the fall.

He's certainly making an impression.

In the last week, he's moved into the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Rob Henry on Purdue's depth chart.

"It's a good feeling to have them say that about me, but behind closed doors, they know I have a lot to work on and they let me know that," Etling said after Monday's practice, the team's 12th of the spring. "I have to keep working because right now, I'm definitely not there yet. I've got eons to go. I just have to keep working this spring and try to do the kind of things Saturday that I want to do."

Etling is encouraged, though, because he has seen progress since his first day of spring ball. That day, he said, was a bad one. But he's gradually gotten better.

Watching film, he's noticed his footwork is better and he's being more decisive. He's also feeling more and more comfortable in the offense, something that's been a challenge to learn because of its expansive play calls and varying formations, shifts and options.

He wasn't pleased with his performance in Saturday's scrimmage - though he unofficially completed 12-of-17 passes for 115 yards and a TD - because he made some "rookie mistakes," like forcing the ball downfield. But he's also glad he had the game-type experience. He thinks that will make him better.

"I think they're seeing a lot of good things from me and I think they're trying to put me in situations to where they can assess how I'm going to deal with the pressure of being a starting quarterback or a backup quarterback," Eting said. "I think that's what they're trying to do with me now. They haven't really told me whether or not when I'm going to be ready to play. I'm just going to be ready to call my name.

"I have a lot to work on. Coach (John) Shoop talked about pocket presence, knowing the protections and how I can do things. That's all going to come with time, he said, with the first game being over, I'll understand that now and have a lot more poise going into the next game."

Sherman speaks
Early in the spring, receivers coach Kevin Sherman was hammering home the "little things" to his receivers. He's now moved on to "consistency."

That's not just in catching the ball, though on Saturday, receivers had six drops and that's been an issue that has popped up throughout the spring. It's also making the blocks when they're there to be made - turning a 10-yard gain into an 80-yard touchdown with Akeem Hunt's big-play potential. It's also about effort and coming to work daily.

Sherman is seeing his group "developing," he said.

"I think since we started, guys have been hungry and eager to get out there on the field and practice and start learning the schemes and competing. I think that's where we are right now, competing, getting better each day," Sherman said. "Early on in the spring, we had some issues with drops and we had a few on Saturday. The goal this week is to finish spring ball with consistency. We have some guys who have some ability but trying to get them to watch themselves on video and learn to finish plays and be consistent on every play."

Breaking them down
Sherman spoke specifically about several players in his group.

Here are some quick hits:

Dolapo Macarthy: "I like what he's all about right now. He still is learning the position, coming from the quarterback position early on in his career, I think that helps him moving out wide because he understands the big picture."

Raheem Mostert: "I think he's continuing to develop and get better. He did a lot of good things on Saturday. What I'm trying to get Raheem to understand is the speed he has, we have to utilize that. He's got to get comfortable out there playing in space and running different routes. He's got to see things differently, react differently."

Gary Bush: "I think Gary is a guy who has played a lot of football for us, done some good things. With the class conflict, he's not getting a lot of practice time. But when he is here, he shows up sometimes on video. But he's still learning as well because he has to play catch-up missing those meetings and practice time."

Adding up
The "jersey" scrimmage on Saturday produced a couple new players in red pinnies on Monday.

Projected starters Sean Robinson (neck) and Taylor Richards (shoulder) were held back for precautionary reasons, according to sports information director Matt Rector.

That meant Purdue's No. 1 defense is not quite looking like its No. 1 defense of late. On Monday, Ricardo Allen (ankle), Greg Latta (foot) and Landon Feichter (hand) also were out again, giving the Boilermakers five projected starters on the sidelines.

In their places were E.J. Johnson and Anthony Brown at safeties, Antoine Lewis or Normondo Harris at cornerback, Jules Williams at end and Armstead Williams at linebacker.

Purdue already has been without Brandon Taylor (ankle) and Ryan Isaac (knee) for the entire spring on defense.

A new injury to an offensive player: freshman running back David Yancey was in red with an apparent ankle injury. Fullback Brandon Cottom (knee) also didn't participate.

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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