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Previewing the Great Purdue QB Derby w/Hammer and Rails

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Travis Miller of SB Nation’s Purdue website weighs in on the weekend’s #B1G QB showdown.

So give it to us straight: who was the better quarterback at Purdue, Danny Etling or Austin Applebee?

To be honest, it was Appleby, but with a caveat. For the majority of Etling’s time under center in 2013 his offensive line was hilariously, laughably bad. Etling started 7 games that year as a true freshman and the line gave up a total of 38 sacks. He also had zero running game, as Purdue rushed for only 805 yards all season. Most of the time he was running for his life, so I think that spooked him and he needed the year off in his transfer year to work out the demons. At LSU, he has an actual, competent offensive line and you’re seeing the benefits.

Appleby had better protection, but his tendency to throw crippling interceptions was his downfall for us. he had a really good three game stretch in his first three starts, but never got better. When he threw a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage last season that was really a sign. I like the kid, I really do, but he telegraphs a lot of his throws and has a slow release.

Finally, you have to factor in John Shoop here. He was the offensive coordinator for both of these guys and he is pretty much reviled by Purdue fans. It often seemed like he went out of his way to negate the strengths of any single player on the offense. NO one is going to look good in the Shoopfense.

Care to offer any insight into the two players' departures, and if Boilermaker fans will be rooting for one over the other on Saturday?

I think we’ll be rooting for both because there was no bad blood when they left. We completely understood why because no one wants to be a backup QB in college after starting a lot. Etling got himself in a much better situation. Appleby officially has a Purdue degree since he was a graduate transfer. Both have had positive things to say about our school since leaving. There is not near the animosity there as there is for basketball player Ronnie Johnson (now at Auburn) who left in a huff when his brother graduated, then later sent a taunting tweet that C.J. Walker had “too much sauce” for Purdue when he decommitted and switched to Florida State.

Besides, we’re playing Wisconsin on Saturday and they have the longest winning streak over us in the Big Ten. They are likely going to do horrible things to us, so we might as well watch something exciting.

Any quarterbacks on the current Purdue roster that might be BEST-CONFERENCE-IN-FOOTBALL material?

David Blough is quietly having a pretty good season for us and he seems to have stabilized the position finally. He looks like he will be the first quarterback to have consecutive open day starts since Curtis Painter from 2006-08. He leads the Big Ten with 2,921 yards and he has 21 TD passes to go with four rushing TDs. Sure, he leads FBS with 16 interceptions, but a number of them have been tipped passes, 50/50 balls, and balls off of receiver’s hands.

Even then, there have been some calls for four-star redshirt freshman Elijah Sindelar to play. In some mop-up duty this year Sindelar has 149 yards, but 3 interceptions. Unless you want true freshman Jared Sparks (currently redshirting) from Dutchtown HS down your way I think the SEC pipeline might be dry.

How are things going on the #LesMiles4Purdue front?

Purdue is saying all the right things that would make it seem like Miles is the perfect candidates and Miles is saying the right things about wanting a commitment and getting different coordinators that would make it seem like a match. Has Purdue actually reached out? Who knows. Since we’re one of the few Power 5 jobs currently open and Miles is actively looking it would seem like the perfect time to make contact and have an announcement after next week’s Indiana game.

I assume that the still lives down in Baton Rouge. Flight Aware is telling me there have not been any flights from Baton Rouge to West Lafayette.

I vacillate every day between wanting Miles and P.J. Fleck. Purdue needs to make a splash with this hire and desperately needs a visible boost in recruiting. A large part of the problem we have had since Hazell was fired is that we have played better, but there is absolutely no depth behind our front line guys. Our three best players are currently hurt and either not playing or playing injured. In the four games since Hazell was let go we have taken early leads and looked different, but in the second half that depth becomes an issue and we’re getting blown out.

I would love to get Miles because on name alone he would improve our recruiting quite a bit. Look at who we play every year in the Big Ten West. You’re telling me Les Miles can’t win 8-9 games a year at Purdue with significantly better talent than we have now? We’re already ahead of Illinois (hey, we beat somebody!) The recruiting boost from a Miles hire can get us on the same level talent-wise with Northwestern, Minnesota, and Iowa. Maybe then we can actually compete a little.