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The Robert Marve Injury: Moving Forward At The Quarterback Position


I know that Robert Marve has not been officially ruled out for the season. The official stance is that they are taking a wait and see approach with the injury. The MRI revealed a possible tear, and it is hoped that maybe he can rehab and get back on the field sometime before the end of the season. It seems unlikely that he will be back in any major capacity, however. At the very least I do not see him playing against Eastern Michigan and Marshall. I think it is very likely he will not play again unless it is some token action at the end of the Bucket Game if we have a big lead.

The bright side of this is that Caleb TerBush, who is now the unquestioned starter, gets games against a very weak Eastern Michigan team and a Marshall team that gave up 69 points in its opener. TerBush will get the reps to get in sync with the offense over the next two games before facing Michigan.

Let's looks at TerBush's career numbers. His first season of play can be all but totally dismissed since he was 4 of 10 for 22 yards in one game back in 2009. He was academically ineligible in 2010, and last year was a modest 171 for 277 with 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns against only six interceptions.

With 267 more yards TerBush will move into the top 20 all-time at Purdue in passing. The yards and the TD-to-interception ratio are not a concern. Considering he split time with Marve last year coming up with almost 200 yards was impressive. He has 14 career touchdown passes to eight interceptions, with the last interception coming on the desperation heave to end Saturday's game.

For Purdue to have a chance at a special season TerBush needs to up his completion percentage dramatically. He only completed 42% of his passes on Saturday with a long of 22 yards. Both Marve and TerBush at least attempted the deep ball (with barely just overthrowing Game Holmes on a sure TD), which is a step forward from last year in terms of playcalling.

Strangely I do not have as much trouble with a quarterback rotation now mostly because a TerBush and Rob Henry rotation actually brings in a different look. Marve and TerBush were both pass-first quarterbacks that had some mobility and could get a few yards, but they were not the runners that Henry is. Henry is definitely a dangerous runner, as he proved two seasons ago. His passing is not on par with Marve and TerBush, however. I never understood why the coaches were intent on a Marve-TerBush rotation as giving defenses a different look because both were very similar quarterbacks.

A Henry-TerBush (or Marve-Henry, like early 2010) shuffle does give a different look. Henry is more likely to pass in a wildcat situation than Justin Siller last season. His career passing (93 for 171, 1,073 yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions) is effective, but definitely lower than Marve or TerBush. He brings the running element, however. Career-wise, Henry has 558 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. That's compared to 210 yards and 4 TDs for Marve and 238 and 1 TD for TerBush.

THERE is your different look. Much of the running by Marve and TerBush was done either as a last resort or if something presented itself over the course of play. Henry was very effective at the read-draw and the design QB runs that are more and more popular these days. If this settles the starting situation and actually leads to a true different look that the coaches have talked about it could be a benefit in the end. Henry can pass just enough so we're not holding up a giant "WE'RE RUNNING ON THIS PLAY," sign, while TerBush is mobile enough to not be a statue in the backfield.

The final question is the depth chart. With Marve out we're down to two healthy experienced quarterbacks. One of them is a run-oriented QB coming off of his own ACL injury, so he is likely more susceptible to injury himself. All it takes is one hit and suddenly we're down to just one guy and the depth that was a major issue was gone.

I am not saying we're going to play a third quarterback for the sack of playing them and preparing them for injury, but this coming Saturday, when we will likely have a big lead in the second half, it could open the door for one of the true freshmen to get his first career action as a "just in case' measure. We've joked about fielding an offense of quarterbacks, but in the last three weeks alone we've seen the number available dwindle:

Robert Marve - out with injury

Erich Berzinskas - kicked off the team

Aloyis Gray - moved to receiver

Robert Gregory - moved to running back

That leaves us with only a couple of options for a possible third string quarterback that may or may not be needed: We can take the redshirt off of Austin Appleby and/or Bilal Marshall or we go with a more experienced walk-on in Austin Parker. My gut tells me that Appleby would be the guy if necessary. He would be entering a situation much like Sean Robinson two years ago in that he likely would not be ready.

As for Robinson, I think he stays on defense barring an absolute disaster at the position. He's playing too much there and is becoming an important linebacker in our rotation.