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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 24 and standing back there in the pocket and then being criti- cized for it and yelled at for it," he said. "(You think), 'Maybe if I studied that one just five extra minutes during the week, I'll be right about it next time.' You understand the game is just faster, because it is. It's 100-percent faster when you're in practice. The hits are harder. "I look at it like high school. The step I took from my sophomore to my junior year was like, 'Wow, I've been out here before. These guys aren't better than I am. I can play on this stage.' My sophomore year in high school, I threw 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. My junior year, I went like 17 touchdowns, three interceptions. You just slow the game down the more and more you see things." Under Lester's tutelage, Blough got more comfortable, in the pocket, with his footwork and understanding defens- es and his response to them. Unofficially during seven-on-seven and team periods in practice during the spring, he completed 59 percent of his passes. He thinks that number can be even better, buoyed by a virtual reality training tool, better practice habits — specifically simulating game environments at every mo- ment, even against air — and that game experience. And that'll be added to the moxie, fight and competitive- ness that make Blough one of the most respected players on the team. "He's a terrific quarterback," Malone said. "I think he is talented. He's tough. He's a terrific leader. I could talk all day about all the intangibles that David Blough offers, but I also think you need to address the fact that he's got a really good arm and he makes really good decisions with the foot- ball, and I've seen him really improve since we started our installs and practice. He's gotten to be a better player. You think about him playing a lot, but he's still just a young guy. So I think his arc is still heading up. I think that's import- ant for us as a coaching staff to put him in a position to be able to make plays for us and if we do that, I think he will." If Blough doesn't, Hazell has set a precedent: He won't hesitate to move on to the next quarterback. Purdue has yet to have a No. 1 quarterback go from start to finish in a season in the Hazell Era. He has replaced a Week 1 starting quarterback as early as Week 4 and as late as Week 6. And he hasn't been afraid to go young. In Year 1, true freshman Danny Etling took the job from a senior. In Year 2, third-year sophomore Austin Appleby replaced Etling. In Year 3, Blough was a redshirt freshman when he bounced Appleby. Tom Campbell After rushing for nearly 900 yards as a true freshman in a shared role, Markell Jones will be the unquestioned No. 1 back this season.

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