Purdue is hoping for dramatically different results in Year 2 under Darrell Hazell after a 1-11 stinker in 2013. Not surprisingly, it will try to achieve those results with the same quarterback.
Hazell on Monday named sophomore quarterback Danny Etling as the starter for the Aug. 30 opener against Western Michigan. Etling, who started the final seven games last season as a true freshman, held off sophomore Austin Appleby and, to a lesser extent, freshman David Blough for the top job.
Appleby appeared to provide a nice push for Etling during spring practice and through fall camp, which can only help Etling's development going forward. Although Purdue's offensive struggles and Etling's understandable inconsistency as a freshman caused the quarterback job to remain open in the offseason, Etling raised his level of play during the offseason. He gave the coaches no reason to make a change.
Hazell summoned the quarterbacks to his office around 8:15 a.m. Monday for individual meetings. He informed Etling that he would lead the offense for the opener.
"You're never too sure about anything," Etling told ESPN.com. "You want to be grateful for whatever happens and be prepared for whatever challenge if it isn't. I was lucky enough [to be named the starter]."
Appleby has had a good attitude about the competition and told reporters Monday that he's at Purdue "for a reason" and has no intention of transferring. Hazell said Blough, like Etling a decorated high school recruit who enrolled early at Purdue, will redshirt the season. So barring a change, Etling and Blough will be separated by two years on the eligibility chart.
Etling improved down the stretch last season and ended things on a very strong note at Indiana (485 passing yards, four touchdowns). He'll operate an offense that should be more explosive with speed in the backfield (Akeem Hunt, Raheem Mostert) and more depth on the perimeter (DeAngelo Yancey, Danny Anthrop, Dan Monteroso, B.J. Knauf).
The big question is whether Purdue's line can hold up. The Boilers were overmatched up front in 2013, rushing for just 67.1 yards per game and allowing a league-worst 38 sacks. No quarterback has a chance if those numbers don't improve.
It will be interesting to see how Etling performs with another full offseason in the system. He talked Monday about not overstepping his boundaries as a young player, but quarterbacks have to do that no matter their age.
"The expectations and the energy around this building are very high," Etling said.
Purdue has a good situation at quarterback with Etling, Appleby and Blough. Continuity at quarterback makes sense for an offense that did very little well in 2013.
Now it's about getting others to step up, especially the linemen.