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Purdue picks Etling over Appleby as starting QB

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 18, 2014 at 4:24 pm •  Published: August 18, 2014

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue quarterback Danny Etling spent the offseason getting stronger, smarter and sharper.

It was just enough to keep his job.

On Monday, coach Darrell Hazell announced Etling would start the Boilermakers' Aug. 30 season opener against Western Michigan after fending off two challengers in a closer than expected three-man quarterback derby. Sophomore Austin Appleby is likely to back up Etling for the second straight year and highly-touted freshman David Blough could wind up redshirting.

"They both played well the last two weeks," Hazell said, referring to Etling and Appleby. "I think the difference was that he (Etling) was a little bit ahead coming out of the spring, but I thought Austin did a great job of closing that gap."

Etling, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound sophomore, started the final seven games last season and finished 149 of 267 for 1,690 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Despite being the incumbent, Etling knew what he was up against at a school dubbed the Cradle of Quarterbacks -- a sophomore eager to take his job away and a hot-shot freshman from Texas who rekindled memories in Boilermakers fans of another former Purdue quarterback from Texas, Drew Brees.

So the Terre Haute, Indiana, native continued improving his game.

After producing his three best performances in the final three games of 2013, Etling added 30 pounds to his slender frame, worked relentlessly in the film room and on timing with his receivers, improved his accuracy and toned down his exuberance.

He came back a noticeably different player. As the most experienced quarterback in camp, he looked confident and comfortable in practice, outplaying his challengers and eventually winning the job in part because he executed the offense with more precision and efficiency.

"I can diagnose things so much quicker with pre-snap looks and see what they're trying to take away," he said.

Even Hazell sees a noticeable change.

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