By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Purdue coach Danny Hope says Purdue will be strong as usual at quarterback, despite losing Curtis Painter to eligibility and Justin Siller to a suspension.
The first-year coach said the spread offense is in good hands with fifth-year senior Joey Elliott and redshirt freshman Caleb TerBush.
Both have earned respect. Elliott, the No. 1 quarterback, has been voted a captain by his teammates. TerBush, the backup, was given the offense's Newcomer Award, which is given to the player who shows the most progress during spring practice.
"I think we're in better shape at the quarterback spot than a lot of people thought we would be," Hope said after Purdue's spring game.
Whichever quarterback takes over will face high expectations. Painter passed for 11,763 yards and 67 touchdowns in four years as a starter.
Siller has been kicked out of school through the 2009-10 year for an undisclosed violation of the university's academic policy. He was moved to running back last season before Elliott suffered a separated throwing shoulder, and was expected to compete with Elliott this season for the starting position. He had been named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week in his first career start, a 48-42 win over Michigan.
Elliott might have had a tighter grip on the starting spot had he not gotten injured. Former coach Joe Tiller had hinted at times that he was prepared to let him replace Painter. Elliott has completed 27 of 49 passes for 300 yards in his career.
Elliott recovered to complete 20 of 33 passes for 193 yards in the spring game on Apr. 18.
"Fortunately, when spring rolled around, Joey was further along than I thought he would be," Hope said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I was really concerned coming in because we only have a couple quarterbacks here on scholarship.
"By the time the spring ended, he had his arm strength back and had a lot of zip on the ball and was playing very, very well. We feel good about Joey Elliott."
TerBush ran the scout team during his redshirt season last year. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound running and passing threat from Metamora, Ill., impressed as the No. 2 quarterback this spring. He completed 16 of 34 passes for 185 yards in the spring game.
Hope said TerBush's athletic ability gives him a chance to start. He passed for 1,575 yards and ran for 859 as a senior at Metamora Township High School.
"We were surprised when he ran with it, the effectiveness that he had, and I think he has a great upside," Hope said. "He's 6-5, 6-6, 220-something pounds with a strong arm, and he's rapidly improving. He certainly has the potential to compete for the quarterback spot."
TerBush's biggest leap came in confidence.
"I think he did a good job of asserting himself from a leadership standpoint, calling plays and stepping into the huddle with confidence," Hope said. "His demeanor, I thought, changed a lot from the day that he showed up from the first day of two-a-days compared to the last day of spring ball. His presence improved considerably.
"I thought he progressed in every phase of his game."
Hope said TerBush will have to make up for the fact that Elliott is a more experienced student of the game. For now, Elliott has the edge, especially since he proved his shoulder is strong.
"The fact that he was far enough along when the spring began to even go out there and throw and run our offense was a huge blessing for us."