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September 1, 2012
Robert Marve just wanted an opportunity to showcase his skills.
With starting quarterback Caleb TerBush suspended for the game after violating team rules, a healthy Marve was able to do that on Saturday in Purdue's season opener against Eastern Kentucky.
Marve completed 30-of-38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns in the Boilermakers' 48-6 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Was that performance good enough to land him the starting job for Week 2 at Notre Dame?
Coach Danny Hope said that decision won't be made until later in the week, and Marve didn't even want to discuss the possibility.
Marve said he found out "early in the week" he'd be starting - the rest of the team didn't know until Friday night, Akeem Shavers said - but that's as much as he'd say.
"I don't want to talk too much about that, not from a negative point, just that Caleb is one of us and we felt bad about the situation," said Marve, who did his post-game interview alongside Rob Henry. "We all feel like us three as a (group) is pretty solid for the team. I just don't want to comment too much on that."
But it had to feel good for Marve, who has battled two knee injuries during his time at Purdue and hadn't started a game since Week 4 in 2010.
Last season, coming off his second ACL surgery, Marve had to wait until Week 3 to play, seeing action against Southeast Missouri.
Though Marve said he didn't feel like he had anything to prove in his debut this season - "I was just trying to get a win," he said - he was happy to get some snaps right away.
"It was kind of nice getting it done earlier in the season against that kind of an opponent where you get your feet wet a little bit without playing like a Notre Dame right off the bat. That was definitely nice," he said.
It helped, too, that the Boilermakers came out in a no-huddle offense, a style that Marve prefers.
Despite throwing an interception on his first series - Hope said it was a defense that Purdue hadn't seen EKU use on film - Marve responded quickly and well.
On Purdue's second series, he led the team to a touchdown.
He completed passes to Gabe Holmes and Gary Bush, and Akeem Shavers ripped off a 34-yard run to move the Boilermakers inside the 5-yard line.
Near the goal line, Purdue lined up in an I formation with Shavers and Brandon Cottom, and Marve faked a handoff and rolled right. His first option wasn't open. Neither was the second. But Bush kept coming across the field, and Marve fired a strike into the end zone for a TD and a lead that was never threatened.
"That was playmaking skills and experience," said Bush, who had six catches for 43 yards. "I knew that if one option wasn't open and if the second option wasn't open, I'd be wide open. We looked eye to eye when he threw me the ball. I knew he was going to throw it to me.
"He came in with confidence, knowing that Caleb was out with his situation, and we feel pretty good about his performance."
Hope said the same about Marve, mentioning that he liked his accuracy and competitiveness. But Hope also said he thinks Marve still can work on being a more disciplined player in regards to staying in the pocket.
Marve rushed seven times and was "sacked" once without being touched. It was when his knee gave out while backpedaling in the pocket, offering up a bit of a scare to the fans, but Marve said he was fine and stayed in the game.
And kept producing.
After his interception on the first series, he completed 29-of-36 passes. At least three of those incompletions were dropped passes.
Marve had a 13-yard touchdown pass to Antavian Edison in the second quarter and added an eight-yarder to Holmes in the third.
"I felt good," Marve said. "Me and Rob talked a lot about just trying to do whatever is best for the team. I felt like we both played very well. We both talked about first-game jitters a little bit, I don't know if you call them jitters, but it felt good, though. I understand we can't turn the ball over, but it was good to get it out of the way first game and kind of get it rolling."
Now it's a matter of who is the player who keeps it rolling.
TerBush, who wasn't spotted at the game, started all 13 games for Purdue last season and was the No. 1 going into game week.
Hope said he didn't get all the information he needed until later in the week to come to his decision on suspending TerBush. But once it did come, Hope said it was an easy decision.
"We have to be a much more disciplined football team whether it's on the field or off the field," said Hope, who also suspended tight end Sterling Carter for the game. "That'll make a difference in us being champions in 2012. I don't have any buyer's remorse in the decision. I think Caleb would concur with my decision as well.
"We'll look and see how Robert played and we'll look and see how they practice later in the week. We're not going to make a decision (about who starts) today. We're not taking votes right now. We'll take a look at it and make an assessment as a staff. Obviously all three of those quarterbacks are so important to us.
"It was a lot more of an inconvenience than it was a catastrophe."
Purdue kept the QB drama from being a distraction, though the Colonels had a little something to do with it, too.
EKU, playing without its starting quarterback and center, simply was overmatched.
The Boilermakers allowed only 190 yards, had two sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered two and had two interceptions. Landon Feichter, who started at safety, returned the team's first interception, a deflected pass, 34 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The defense came up big, too, when the offense stumbled.
Marve's final numbers and the offense's final numbers - 547 yards - were nice, but there were hiccups. In addition to the interception, Marve lost a fumble on a run in which he was untouched. Henry, playing his first game in a year, lost a fumble and threw an interception after a double-clutch.
But Purdue's defense didn't allow a single point after its offense turned it over.
The challenge is expected to be stiffer for both units next week against the Irish.
But, for now, the Boilermakers are happy to start the season off right. No matter who was playing quarterback.
"I was happy for Boilermakers and the Boilermaker fans to get the win," Marve said.
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