2013 Starter: Danny Etling (So.)
2014 Front-runner: Danny Etling (So.)
2014 Options: Austin Appleby (So.), David Blough (Fr.)
No one should envy the position in which head coach Darrell Hazell finds himself. Purdue is in the midst of an historic slump and is coming off of one of the worst seasons in Boislermakers history.
Just how bad was Purdue in 2013? Well, 1-11 is bad enough. But if you look at the one win, consider the fact that is was a victory over FCS Indiana State. Now consider that the win was by just six points. On top of that, Indiana State was itself 1-11 in 2013, and that lone win came against Division II Quincy. For the record, Quincy was 2-9 with wins against an NAIA and an 0-11 Division II program.
It should also be pointed out that Purdue finished last in the Big Ten in scoring offense, offensive yards per game and pass efficiency. Purdue was 121st of 125 FBS programs last season in both yards per game and points per game.
When Danny Etling replaced Rob Henry as starter, perhaps it could have been seen as turning the page on the past. But instead of refreshing a team badly in need of a rebirth, Purdue continued to struggle throughout 2013.
That leads us to the brewing quarterback battle that has emerged this spring between Etling, returning sophomore Austin Appleby and true freshman David Blough.
Despite the open competition, Etling performed fairly well at the end of 2013 and has been, if nothing else, consistent this spring. "Consistency" may not sound all that exciting, but for Purdue, it's something that has been missing at the quarterback spot for quite a while.
We expect Etling to hold onto his job, but it's certainly no guarantee. Etling, after all, was part of that 1-11 performance, and there's no one in the program that wants to dwell on the past.