WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – David Blough and Elijah Sindelar are already locked in.
With offseason workouts over and their banged-up bodies finally healthy, they’re eager to start Round 2 of Purdue’s quarterback battle.
“It’s a little different this year because Elijah kind of established himself a little more (last season),” quarterbacks coach Brian Brohm said. “David was getting most of the reps last year (in camp), and now it’s more 50-50. Both of these guys have a great understanding of our offense, so they can do some things for us.”
Both also have plenty to prove.
At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, Sindelar has a prototypical body and a strong enough arm to help the Boilermakers execute the down-field passing game coach Jeff Brohm wants to see in his second season with the Boilermakers.
Last year, he narrowly lost the starting job in camp though both continued to play in a rotation. Eventually, Sindelar wound up starting eight times and led Purdue to its second postseason victory in a decade.
He finished the season 187 of 329 with 2,099 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions despite playing the last 3 1/2 games on a torn ACL in his left knee and somehow managed to win three of the four. Sindelar had surgery in December, missed all of spring workouts and didn’t fully return until practice opened Wednesday.
Naturally, he was a little rusty.
“I think right now we’re a little overhyped, everyone needs to relax,” Sindelar said after Thursday’s practice. “At the beginning of Day 1, my release point was high, probably because the Big Ten Network cameras were here. But I’ve calmed down.”
What the coaches want to see is more consistency.
At times, the Texan has shown why he was such a highly-touted recruit. But the 6-1, 195-pound fifth-year senior has a career completion percentage of 58.5 percent with 44 TD passes and 33 interceptions – too many for the coaching staff.
So Brohm, the quarterbacks coach is working with Blough to become more elusive in the pocket with the hope he’ll be able to see the field better and cut down on the turnovers.
Health is another concern.
He missed the 2015 season finale with a head injury and suffered a dislocated right ankle in November 2017. But Blough pushed hard to return for spring practice, figuring it was the best way to stay in the mix and he looked like his old self on the first day of camp.
“Who’s to say where I’d be if I didn’t get to practice in the spring? I’m just thankful I’m out here and able to go and be around these guys,” the fifth-year senior said. “To get back where I was, I needed to do it to get my best shot at being the starter.”
The stakes this year could be far greater, too.
With some cornerstone players missing off a vastly improved defense and two of their top three receivers lost to graduation, Purdue will more rely heavily on its quarterbacks this season.
And with an Aug. 30 season opener looming against Northwestern, Purdue needs to make the right call right out of the box. The final decision could be made about Aug. 20, though an announcement may not come until the lineups are announced.
So far, though, Brian Brohm likes what he’s seen. He just needs to see more of it.
“With Elijah we need to see the consistency from play-to-play. Some plays, it’s like ‘Wow, that’s really special.’ There are others where he’s a little off,” Brohm said “With David, it’s all about staying calm with pressure in his face, to slip and slide without panicking.
“I think both have shown grit and toughness,” he added. “I think David really has the respect of the team and I think Elijah has proven a lot.”
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