The Purdue Boilermakers are heading into the 2015 season with high expectations of beginning the turnaround of their football program. One of the biggest question marks surrounding the team this season is who will step up and take control of the quarterback position. Austin Appleby certainly seems to be the number one guy at this point in time after the big season that he had last year.
During the 2014 season with the Boilermakers, Appleby ended up throwing for 1,449 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also picked up 198 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
At 6-foot-5 and 239 pounds, Appleby certainly fits the ideal build of a Big Ten quarterback. He showed solid arm accuracy and power last season, although there was room for improvement in both categories. Appleby also struggled with turning the football over, which is an indication that he needed to work on his understanding of reading defenses this offseason.
Danny Etling was going to be competing for the starting job this season as well, but he decided to transfer from the school. He ended up landing with the LSU Tigers, and that certainly makes it seem even more likely that Appleby is going to start the season under center for Purdue.
Outside of Appleby, Darrell Hazell has David Blough and Elijah Sindelar to use at the quarterback position. Those options certainly aren’t all that attractive, as neither player has taken a single snap on a college football field in a regular season game.
So the real question becomes, can Appleby be the answer that the Boilermakers need him to be at quarterback?
There is no question that he has the potential to improve in a big way this season. He put together a very solid season last year given the circumstances that he had to work with. After a full offseason of being able to prepare for the starting job, Appleby will be much more confident in his ability and that alone will help him take his game to a new level.
His arm certainly has the potential to be a starting caliber player, and his ability to make plays with his legs gives the Boilermakers plenty of options to work with as well. It isn’t going to be easy for him to make the type of jump that Purdue needs him to make, but his work ethic cannot be questioned.
Looking ahead to the 2015 season, the Boilermakers are in good hands under center. They aren’t going to come away with a Big Ten title and likely won’t make a bowl game, but there is no doubt that they should improve from the 3-9 record that they had last season.
Appleby is prepared for the next challenge that awaits him, and he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove all of his critics wrong.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports