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August 15, 2013

Hazell hopes to have Boiler football on the rise

Former Kent St. coach in search of starting QB.

WEST LAFAYETTE (AP) — Darrell Hazell has been busy since football camp opened earlier this month.

The new Purdue coach spent his first week installing the offense. This week, he’ll talk about execution. Next week, the message is anybody’s guess, but you can bet Hazell will have one. He always does.

The man who turned around Kent State’s moribund program is now trying to lay the foundation for a revival of Boilermakers football. Attendance has declined and the program is struggling to remain competitive with its Big Ten counterparts.

A year ago, the Boilermakers were supposed to contend for a league title. Instead, they finished fourth in the Leaders Division and Danny Hope was fired.

Hazell has a plan to fix all this, and he’s trying to be patient as the new philosophies take hold.

“I think they’ve done a great job of really just getting locked in and understanding the effort that it takes to get better,” he said about his team. “We have to keep getting better.”

Here are five keys to the Boilermakers season.

1. GETTING ACCLIMATED:

Hazell came to West Lafayette with a mandate to change the direction of a program that has reached back-to-back bowl games but has mostly underachieved since Drew Brees led the 2000 Boilermakers to the Rose Bowl. The former Ohio State assistant is taking his can-do attitude to the field, where he expects all of his players to meet his unflinchingly high standards.

2. QUARTERBACK CRADLE:

Here, it’s always been about quarterbacks. The succession line includes names such as Dawson, Griese, Danielson, Herrman, Everett and Brees. Who’s next? That’s what Hazell must first decide. The early favorite is Rob Henry, who started seven games in 2010, missed all of 2011 with a knee injury and returned last season. He threw only 38 passes in 2012 as he played multiple positions. But that’s 37 more attempts than the other four Purdue quarterbacks have thrown in college — combined. His toughest competition may come from true freshman Danny Etling, a midyear enrollee who the Boilermakers are hoping adds his name to the long line of big-time quarterbacks.

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