Purdue also splitting QB duties

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2011 - 9:50 PM

The Boilermakers point to preparedness as the goal while rotating Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush.

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Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush (19)

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The Gophers will be on equal footing with Purdue in at least one key area Saturday: Both teams still are sorting out their quarterback situations.

Earlier this week, Gophers coach Jerry Kill announced the freshman Max Shortell would continue to man the post until MarQueis Gray recovers from a toe injury.

And Purdue's Danny Hope said this week that he will continue to swap Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush during the Big Ten season.

Prior to Gray's injury, however, the junior was the No. 1 man for Minnesota and Shortell earned reps as the certified backup. Good luck trying to figure whether TerBush or Marve holds the top slot in Hope's mind.

"I hope both of those guys play so well that I can't decide which one of them is the best and we have two great quarterbacks to play with," he said. "That's the best thing for our football team. And again, one of the reasons why we are so committed to playing two quarterbacks is in the past a couple of years that I've been here, when the No. 1 guy went down, the No. 2 guy wasn't ready yet."

That was reinforced a year ago when Marve, then the starter, tore his left ACL five games into the season. The Boilermakers lost their final six games, finishing 4-8.

But Hope's scheme is not without controversy. It reached a new level following Purdue's 38-10 home loss to Notre Dame Saturday.

In that game, TerBush started, Marve entered the game in the second quarter and started the second half. But TerBush finished the fourth quarter. Hope said after the game that Marve had to do a better job of staying within the system.

And Marve did what college athletes tend to do when they have something to say: He took to Twitter.

"Don't understand how I was not playing in the system! It was rough from the get-go, don't understand how that was on me," he said.

Hope spent the majority of a Tuesday news conference trying to downplay his sometimes-starting quarterback's comments. They were blown out of proportion, he said.

"When I read it, I knew exactly what he was trying to say, and the only negative response to it is everyone else's negative response," he said. "I wasn't offended by it one bit, and he said exactly what we were saying, that he's got to play within the system."

But Marve's comments fueled speculation that the quarterback situation is not as smooth as Hope says.

TerBush, stuck in the middle of everything, explained the predicament like a seasoned diplomat.

TerBush said this week that he's not bothered by the two-quarterback offense, saying he's friends with Marve --who was unavailable for comment -- and that both players just want what's best for the program.

"I wouldn't say it's that big of a deal. We're both just going to go out there and do our best to help the team and if that means we gotta do a two-quarterback system, that's what we gotta do," he said. "We just gotta take it upon ourselves to capitalize when we get out there."

TerBush has thrown for 647 yards and four touchdowns. Marve has thrown for 182 yards and one touchdown in two games.

The Boilermakers have the seventh-ranked passing offense in the conference. But Hope said he doesn't believe the arrangement disrupts the team's rhythm.

He said he's relying on history and experience.

As a member of Howard Schnellenberger's staff at Louisville in the 1980s, Hope said the idea of preparing and playing two quarterbacks was entrenched in his mind by the veteran coach.

"My tutelage from Howard Schnellenberger is to do all you can do to have two quarterbacks ready so if one goes down, you don't have a major dropoff at the most key position on your football team," he said.

And nothing that happens Saturday will change that.

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