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August 12, 2011Danny Hope would like Robert Marve to be further along in his recovery process from ACL surgery.
But, eight months later, Marve still is having swelling issues on his right knee, the "donor" knee that wasn't the one that was injured.
Hope said during Purdue's media day on Friday that he's optimistic Marve will be ready for the season opener against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 3. But Hope can't be sure.
So maybe the hyped two-quarterback system actually will be starter Rob Henry and junior Caleb TerBush, who didn't play last season after being ruled academically ineligible.
Each of the three top options has shown glimpses during camp of being able to be the No. 1, Hope said.
"There's great competition out there," Hope said. "At times, Caleb looks like the best quarterback. At times, Rob looks like the best quarterback. At times, Robert looks like the best quarterback.
"A lot of people have referenced maybe some displeasure or not being in favor of us playing more than one quarterback - we have to have more than one quarterback ready to play. We've proven that in the past. We got down to our fifth quarterback last season. So we're going to have more than one quarterback ready to go."
Henry is the starter for a combination of reasons, including he's just further ahead than either Marve or TerBush. But Henry also earned the playing time, showing not only the athletic ability to make big plays on the ground (team-high 547 yards rushing last year) but also the toughness and leadership to gain the team's respect and trust.
But he still has plenty of improvement to make, Henry and Hope said.
Hope wants Henry to develop more as a passer, especially in the pocket. Henry knows to do that, he needs to continue to learn more about the offense and how to handle defenses.
"In my pre- and post-snap reads, I have to improve on that, just knowing what to expect more and making the right checks," said Henry, who played with a broken finger on his throwing hand much of last season. "It's always difficult. I just remember Ohio State last year and how confident I was going into that game and how much they threw at us that we were like, 'Oh my gosh.' So when you go against teams like that and you go against any Big Ten defense, you have to be prepared for anything they can throw at you. I think that's the main thing that I need to work on."
While recovering from surgery, Marve has had more time to spend in the playbook, continuing to familiarize himself with the offense.
But, really, that's not his top priority.
"The health has been a big deal," he said. "I didn't have as many months this time to get ready. Still feeling it. Still trying to get back. So I've been real focused on that.
"But with being able to know the offense better, I'm hoping that I can be more of a gun-slinger type and be able to get myself out of situations with my arm instead of my feet."
TerBush is kind of the unknown commodity of the unit, considering he has played in only one game since he arrived on campus in 2008. As a redshirt freshman, he was 4 of 10 for 22 yards on Oct. 31 at Wisconsin.
But Hope has praised TerBush during camp, and he said on Friday that TerBush is definitely "in the mix" to play this season.
"He does a good job delivering the deep ball," Hope said of TerBush. "I think he's a natural passer in a lot of ways. He runs well for as big as he is. He doesn't run as fast as Rob or Robert, but he runs really well for a guy who is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds. He brings a lot to the table as a quarterback prospect. He's working hard. He's competing and he looks really good out there."
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