football

Countdown to camp: Position battles

OnSaturday,PurdueopensitsfirsttrainingcampunderCoachDarrellHazell.
Practiceswillbeopenforfanstoattend.
Herearesomeofthetoppositionsbattlestowatch:
QuarterbackThiswillbethedebateovercamp'sfirsttwoweeks,thelikelyamountoftimeHazellandoffensivecoordinatorJohnShoopwillwaittonameastarter.
We'vebrokendownthisraceadnaseum,buthere'saquickprimer:
Fifth-yearseniorRobHenry,truefreshmanDannyEtlingandredshirtfreshmanAustinApplebyarethetop3choicesandtheonlylikelyoptionsatthispoint.
MostexpectthetrueracetobebetweenHenryandEtling,thoughApplebyisn'tquiteoutofityet.He'sabig,strong-armed,headyplayerwhocouldemergeagainwithagreatfirsttwoweeks.Butcouldhemakeenoughstridestopassbothplayers?Seemsunlikely.
Henrysurprisedcoacheswithhispassingabilityandaccuracyinspringball-they'dheard,andassumed,thathewasmoreofarunningQB.Etlingroseupthedepthchartquicklybecauseofhisintelligenceandphysicalskills-hehasagreatzipontheballandhe'sabigguywhoiswillingtostayinthepocketintightquarterstodeliverstrikes.
Shoopisquicktosaythemosttalentedquarterbackisnotalwaysbestquarterback,though.
Acoupleoffactorstoconsider,then:Thereisn'tmuchexperienceattheskillpositionsaroundtheQB,sowhocanmakeplaysbetterifsomethingbreaksdown,andPurdue'sscheduleisanabsolutenightmarethroughtheseason'sfirsteightweeks.
LinebackerTheprojectedstartershereareeasybecausethey'veallstarted-WillLucasontheweakside,JoeGilliaminthemiddleandSeanRobinsononthestrongside.
Butnoneofthemareall-conference-typeplayers,andtherearesomeyoungsterswhocouldemergetobumponeormoreofthoseplayersoutofthelineup.
Despitebeingshort-he'sgenerouslylistedat6foot-AndyGarciaissomeonewhocouldchallengeLucasontheoutside.CoachesloveGarcia'sbulldogmentalityandhissmallerframecanstillpackapunch.Lucas,afterall,isonlylistedat5-11.Lucas'issuealwayshasbeenaninabilitytofollowthroughonassignments.Soifhegetsthatshoredup,hecouldholdthespot.Ifnot,Garcia'swillingnesstoflyaroundandmakeplayscouldgethimmorePT.
Gilliamalsomadestridesinthespringafterhisfirstseasonasastarter,butredshirtfreshmanJimmyHermanshowedsomeencouragingsigns,too,aftermovingfromoutsidetomiddlelinebacker.Hermanadmittedlystruggledatpointswiththeshift,buthe's6-foot-4andworkedtoaddweightandmuscleovertheoffseason.Ifhecanentercampinthe220-range-Gilliamislistedpre-campinthehigh220s-thenperhapshe'llhaveachancetochallengeforsnaps.
Nothavingseenanyofthetruefreshmen,it'shardtosaywhethertheycouldmakeamove.Butit'dseemthatthere'dcertainlybeanopportunityforanaggressiveplayerwhohasahighmotor.
WidereceiverPerhapsthereshouldbejustasmuchattentionpaidtostartsassnaps.
Eithercontributionseeminglyisstillupfor,uh,grabsincamp.
OtherthanDolapoMacarthy,whomaystillberehabbingfromanoffseasoninjury,therearefewpredeterminedoptionsatreceiver.
B.J.Knauf,ShaneMikeskyandCharlesTorwudzomaybethemostlikelytogetthebulkofsnaps,butthat'sonlybecausethecoacheshaveyettoseeDannyAnthropinteamsituationsorevenmuchoftopstatisticalreturningreceiverGaryBush,whowaslimitedinsomepracticesandmeetingsbecauseofaclassconflictinthespring.
AndwherewillRaheemMostertfit?Hehasthespeedandthemovestomakebigplays,buthehasn'tcaughtapassyetinagame.HetalkedabouthowmuchmorecomfortablehewasinShoop'ssystem,buthealsodidn'treallystandoutinspringball.
IffreshmenDanMonteroso,MylesNorwoodandDeAngeloYanceyhadproductiveoffseasonslearningtheplaybookandstudyingfilm,there'sachancetheycouldgetsnapsinWeek1,too.Butdidthey?
Findingproductivereceiversmaynotbeasintriguingaspickingastartingquarterback,butitcertainlywillbeinterestingtoseewhoemergesamongalargegroupthatdoesn'thavemuchexperience.
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