GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In a story line that cannot possibly have any precedent, two former Purdue quarterbacks will be on opposing sidelines of a significant SEC game this Saturday when No. 18 Florida hosts LSU.
Danny Etling, who transferred from Purdue after the 2014 season, has started the last three games for LSU in place of an ineffective Brandon Harris, while Austin Appleby, a graduate transfer this past offseason, has started the last two for Florida in place of injured quarterback Luke Del Rio.
There seems a good chance Del Rio returns from a knee injury and reclaims his job this week, so there may not be a true Boilermakers Bowl in The Swamp, but that two Purdue transfers even started at quarterback for two of the SEC’s traditional powers this fall is hard to imagine given how much that program has struggled offensively in recent years.
“It’s cool is what it is,” Appleby said. “(It’s) unfortunate the way that things happened at Purdue for us, two guys that are very talented and have all the tools. And I’m happy for not only me but for him that we both found a place that fits, a place that we’ve been able to be developed and go play to our full potential and have a chance to go win games and lead our team.”
Etling has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 649 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception overall this season.
Appleby, meanwhile, has not been able to follow up an impressive first half at Tennessee as strongly as he started.
He completed 19-of-28 passes for 144 yards against Vanderbilt in a 13-6 win this past Saturday and overall this season has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 470 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
The two quarterbacks both saw playing time at Purdue in 2014 with Appleby passing for 1,449 yards, 10 TDs and 11 INTs in 10 games while Etling passed for 800 yards, 6 TDs and 5 INTs in five games. The next year, after Etling transferred, Appleby passed for 1,260 yards, 8 TDs and 8 picks while splitting time with David Blough.
“We talked over the last couple weeks, just giving each other some encouragement when he got his chance to go play and then the same with me — he returned the favor,” Appleby said. “All of us up there, even David Blough, the guy who’s still playing up at Purdue, we all have a good relationship. We’re all buddies. It’s going to be cool. We probably won’t be talking much this week, but I’m definitely a Danny Etling fan and I wish him nothing but the best there — just not this week.”