First-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell has a “nice quarterback battle” on his hands.
On one side, senior Rob Henry, who threw for just 216 yards despite appearing in 11 games last season.
On the other side, freshman Danny Etling, the former Terre Haute South standout.
“We’ll give them equal reps,” Hazell said Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.
“And in about two weeks, after we start practice, we’ll make a decision and have that guy take ownership of our football team going into our first game,” Hazell added.
Hazell’s looking for consistency and composure from whoever wins the spot.
“No. 1 component for that guy is to take care of the football,” he said. “No. 2 is to get us in the right place, No. 3 to be tough enough to stand in there on third-and-five and take a shot. And we need a big play.”
The Boilermakers weren’t bad when it came to turnover margin last season (minus-2), but Hazell’s Kent State team was plus-20 in that area.
“That’s probably the No. 1 component to losing football games is turning the football over,” he said. “And everybody on our team is responsible for that, from the quarterback to the offensive line to the running backs to the defensive back who picks the ball off.
“We have a great responsibility to Purdue football to take care of the football.”
Hazell’s goal is to change the perception of Purdue football.
“One of the first things I said to our team … was Purdue was always a team that’s perceived in the middle of the Big Ten,” he said. “I told them it’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re going to climb ourselves out of the middle and we’re going to put this program in national prominence for a long point in time.”
That starts with self-image.
“If you don’t see yourselves as a champion, no one else is going to see yourselves as a champion,” Hazell said. “And then you have to put the work in.
“There’s not a great difference between team one and the last team in the conference. What I do know is that the preparation that goes in and being able to get your ‘A’ players to the game each and every week, then you’ve got a chance.”
Hazell, a former assistant at Ohio State under Jim Tressel, was 16-10 in two seasons with the Golden Flashes, including an 11-3 record last season when Kent State won the Mid-American Conference East title.