Jeff Brohm launches new Purdue football era Open competition starts at quarterback.

Of course it starts with the quarterback.

No position in sports is as important, especially as Purdue coach Jeff Brohm launches a new system and approach. Monday was the first day of spring practice.

History suggests the Boilers will eventually score lots of points. Brohm’s teams always have. It’s part of the reason Purdue hired him after enduring four years of Darrell Hazell futility.

Of course, Brohm needs the necessary talent to make his wide-open attack work. Specifically, the quarterback has to be special.

You might think Brohm already has his guy in returning starter David Blough, who led the Big Ten in passing yards last season, with 3,352 yards. He had 25 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.

You would be wrong.

“It will be a competition at quarterback,” Brohm said. “We’ll make sure the guys competing for the spot will get equal opportunity and plenty of repetitions. We’ll throw them under the fire as much as we can and work through spring, summer and into fall. We’ll probably decide then. We don’t really have a time table, but we will take it into fall camp.”

Blough faces competition from last year’s backup, Elijah Sindelar, and redshirt freshman Jared Sparks.

Sindelar only played in five games last year, and wasn’t very effective. He completed just 43.8 percent of his passes for 165 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Still, with record-setting numbers as a former Kentucky Mr. Football on his resume, he can’t be overlooked.

“Nowadays, especially in this conference and in big-time football, you need more than one guy to be ready,” Brohm said. “If somebody isn’t getting it done, or somebody gets hurt, you have to have somebody who can go in and perform up to the standard.”

Brohm arrived at Purdue in December after an impressive three-year run at Western Kentucky that showcased lots of winning (a 30-10 record) and lots of offense (averaging 44.6 points, 356.6 passing yards, 526.2 total yards over those three seasons). He wants to bring both to Purdue.

Blough likes what he’s seen so far.

“I love it,” he said about the new offense. “I’m excited to be in it. There’s a balance. (Last year at Western Kentucky) they threw for like 4,400 yards and ran for 2,800, and led the country in rushing touchdowns.

“There’s a multiple feel that you can do anything – that you can put in two backs or two tight ends or five (receivers). You attack the defense rather than the defense attack you. Offense should be the attacker, but it’s not always the case. That’s what is encouraging about it.”

Getting to that point at Purdue means everybody has to re-earn their jobs, starting with quarterback.

Blough said he’s fine with that.

“Competition is good, especially at the quarterback position. When the other guys see the competition at quarterback, there’s a fire lit under everybody.

“You control what you can control. You put your head down and work. Do what’s best for the team. You learn the playbook and compete. Let the coaches make the decision and let your play speak for itself.”

What did Blough’s play last year say?

“It said there were a lot of live bullets, a lot of pass attempts, a lot of completions, a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns and a lot of interceptions. You take the good and bad and learn from them.”

As far as Brohm’s take on Blough, the coach said, “(Blough) works hard. He wants to do well. It means something to him. It’s important to him. That’s what you want.

“It’s up to us to coach him up as well as we can. Put him in a position to succeed. Find out what he likes and what he does best. Try to mold it around him or whoever is at quarterback, so we’re not asking him to do things he’s not great at.”

The 6-4 Sindelar hopes to make the most out of this opportunity.

“My focus is to win the job. I’m practicing to be the starter, not second straight.

“I want to be accurate. I want to limit the picks. I threw way too many even with just playing in the fourth quarter. My whole focus is on accuracy and winning the job.

“I’ll give it everything I have. My height helps. My arm strength helps. I have to study the playbook and understand where to go with the ball. I have to do a lot of things outside of football on my own time.”

Added Brohm: “Elijah can stand tall in the pocket. He has a good arm. He has good vision. We have to make sure he’s doing the small things right — stepping into his throws, throwing in rhythm.

If he’s not in rhythm, stay in good position to allow the route to get open, maybe even escape and make a play with his feet instead of doing things that hurt the team. We want to put him in some tough practice situations so when it happens in a game, he can react instinctively. He has very good tools.

“He understands he how it works. He has to earn the job. He has to work hard at it. He’s done everything we’ve asked.” <br>