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August 5, 2013
Danny Etling insists there is no time during practice to worry about Purdue's competition for starting quarterback.
He insists his mind is busy focusing on his motion, getting the lengthy play calls in correctly, making sure the rest of the offense is lined up and then identifying defenses pre- and post-snap.
It's a lot to take in for any QB, especially a true freshman who admits the pace of training camp has risen a notch since his practice field debut in the spring.
But Etling is pushing and striving to put together what he thinks it'll take to be named the Week 1 starter. Though he's become hesitant to say too much about himself - coordinator and QB coach John Shoop has been stressing a "we" message - Etling knows he has a shot to be the guy Darrell Hazell chooses in two weeks.
"It's just a body of work," Etling said after Day 3 of camp on Monday. "If I can put together a better body of work, that's why I'd be the starter. But if Rob (Henry) puts up a greater body of work, he should be the starter. If Austin (Appleby) puts up a greater body of work, he should be the starter.
"I'm definitely confident in my abilities and I'm confident in all my teammates, too, that they're going to help me out."
There has been no holding back the playbook early in camp. Shoop is giving all the quarterbacks everything they can handle - and more, in some cases.
Hazell said though all the quarterbacks have gotten better each day early in camp, there is one who has been slow to grasp the "language" of the offense. He wouldn't say which one.
When asked specifically about Etling, Hazell said he's "getting better."
"There's so much that's being thrown at him right now, but he's handling it pretty well," Hazell said. "I expect him to keep growing as we go along."
Etling said he is OK with coaches always pushing him to improve.
"Coach Shoop always tells me, 'If you go back to your dorm at night and think, I've got this, I'm going to put in 20 more plays,' " Etling said with a smile. "He goes, 'You should be studying hard every night until you feel like it's overwhelming, but then you come out here and you've just got to play.'
"I think it's slowing down (for me). It's mostly me relaxing and my teammates getting me relaxed. I finally am starting to feel like they've got my back and I don't have to do so much."
The No. 1 goal Hazell has been stressing to the QBs is taking care of the ball. Etling didn't have any interceptions on Monday after throwing at least two on Sunday. He's also had several passes batted down at the line, which could be an issue of him "staring down your guys," he said.
That's an issue Hazell has talked to Etling about, looking off intended receivers to not allow the defense that advantage.
It's just another element Etling said he's working on as he's continuing the under-fire teaching as a young player.
"I think I'm most comfortable on more of the play-action stuff and the option of the throwing or running," Etling said. "I'm still trying to get more comfortable within the passing game and what I'm reading and recognizing coverages and everything."
Guard was one of the positions to watch this camp, and so far, it's been entertaining.
Cody Davis worked with the first team on Day 1, then Jordan Roos moved from second to first team for Day 2 and Davis was back with the starters on Day 3.
In the first day in shoulder pads, Roos, as expected, made an impression. Like he showed in the spring, Roos is eager to be physical, even pushing it to close to the limit at times. During one drill on Monday when offensive linemen went head-to-head with defensive linemen, Roos manhandled freshman Johnny Daniels and flung him to the ground when it was done. That wasn't appreciated by the rest of the D-line, Bruce Gaston shouting out to Daniels not to take that kind of play.
But it's simply who Roos is, a scraggly haired and bearded nasty lineman who plays hard to the whistle - and sometimes after it.
"He is a tough guy and a couple words that my mom would be upset with," Bridge said. "Jordan is that guy. He likes to play hard. I like that about Jordan. We've got to get him now to take that great effort and great attitude and combine it with his assignment and his footwork and execute better. But he's got the internal stuff."
The left guard spot perhaps is being solidified with Devin Smith, who was thought to be pushed by another redshirt freshman, Jason King. So far, though, Smith has reigned on the left side, and his combination with Kevin Pamphile at tackle has Hazell happy.
"I really like our left side of the line. Those two are playing extremely well together," Hazell said. "So if you can get a couple more guys to play like those guys, you like your chances."
Dolapo Macarthy had some swelling in his surgerically repaired knee on Monday, so he got fewer snaps than he had the first two practices. But he's still considered a starter and he was one of three receivers, including Danny Anthrop and B.J. Knauf, Hazell mentioned as making an impression this fall.
Third-string linebacker Ruben Ibarra was in a boot with what Hazell called an ankle sprain and could miss two weeks.
Quarterback-turned-receiver Bilal Marshall, who had impressed his first two days of practice at the new position, was out on Monday with a "hip flexor strain," according to Hazell. Hazell didn't expect it to keep Marshall out too long, saying the staff was being cautious.
Freshman Ra'Zahn Howard passed his sickle cell anemia test, Hazell said, and was on the field for the first time participating on Monday.
"Just watching him for the first time, he's got some pretty good feet for a 324-pound guy," Hazell said.
That's exactly what Hazell wanted.
"They're starting to learn the tempo, starting to learn to be a physical football team. That's one of the emphasis we talked about at our team meeting this morning is we're going to make sure we're tough and physical football team," Hazell said. "(Monday) with pads on was our first opportunity to bang a little bit. They're starting to get it. It's fun to watch."
The team will wear shoulder pads again Tuesday and do some situational work - red zone or second down, etc. - before they get into "heavy banging" with full pads on Wednesday.
Quiet time was spent on the "A Players" section of the manual - "nobody is allowed to underachieve," Hazell said - on Monday.
Backup center Henry Lorenzen was part of another fumbled snap exchange on Monday, at least the third in the last two days. He heard it from Shoop, too. Robert Kugler is firmly entrenched as the team's starter, but if he'd go down with an injury, it's likely Davis would slide over to center and Roos would slip into that vacated guard spot.
Patrick Bade, Justin Sinz and Kurt Freytag formed the protection shield in front of punter Cody Webster during some special teams work early in practice.
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