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September 29, 2012
Caleb TerBush almost didn't budge.
Asked multiple times about his career day in Purdue's 51-41 victory over Marshall on Saturday, the Boilermakers' quarterback used "we" and talked about the offense as a group.
And then, finally, he caved.
"I am pretty happy with how I played," he said, looking wracked with guilt for having admitted it.
And, then, before he left to enjoy a victory that pushed Purdue to 3-1 heading into Big Ten play, TerBush added, "I'm not satisfied. Don't forget to say that."
But TerBush's 294-yard, four-touchdown performance was crucial, even if it came against a defense that ranked No. 97 in the country coming into Saturday.
Coach Danny Hope, offensive coordinator Gary Nord and TerBush talked about how important getting improved quarterback play is to any success Purdue will have this season.
The Boilermakers got what they were looking for Saturday out of a position that was expected to be a strength entering the season.
"I thought he threw the ball very well, managed the offense very well," Hope said. "I thought Caleb played very well, and that's huge for our football team. The better the quarterback plays, the better chance we have as a football team.
"I thought Caleb TerBush really stepped up (Saturday) and played his best game of the season and he still has some room for improvement. He can still be a mighty fine quarterback for us this season."
Perhaps no drive was bigger for TerBush and the offense than in the fourth quarter, right after Marshall scored to pull within 45-35 with 12:53 to play.
The offensive group gathered before that series and had a simple message: "We've got to finish this game on offense," Akeem Shavers said.
After running on the first four plays to bring up a third-and-seven on Purdue's 41, TerBush had some pressure in his face but was able to get the ball away to Akeem Hunt, who snatched it and turned it into a 13-yard completion to extend the drive into Marshall territory.
Hunt added a 20-yard run two plays later to give Purdue the ball at the 25.
But two short gains brought up another third down - needing six yards - and TerBush got the ball out quickly to O.J. Ross for another first down.
After Hunt and Shavers gained eight yards, the Boilermakers faced a third-and-two from the 7-yard line. Purdue lined up in an I formation with Brandon Cottom and Shavers, but TerBush ran a play action and rolled to his right. With a defender coming into his face, TerBush appeared ready to chuck the ball away, but instead Gary Bush flashed into view.
"Gary was working one way and he just cut back and there was nobody there, so why not? It's six points right there," TerBush said.
The touchdown capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive that drained 6:15 off the clock.
"It was a long drive, and it was huge," TerBush said. "Coach made the play calls and we were able to execute, keep the ball moving, keep getting first downs and we were able to get points on the board and widen our margin."
It was crucial for TerBush, too.
He was suspended for the season opener after violating team rules, had an up-and-down day against Notre Dame that included a costly interception, but then a game-tying touchdown pass. He then struggled early against Eastern Michigan coming off a migraine headache.
That led to talk over the bye week and leading up to the Marshall game that TerBush needed to regain the form he showed in training camp practices that had coaches believing he was the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback.
All TerBush did was complete his first nine passes and finish the first half 11-of-16 for 181 yards and three touchdowns without an interception as Purdue stormed to a 42-14 lead at the break, thanks in large part by interceptions returned for touchdowns by Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson on back-to-back series, two of the four turnovers Purdue forced.
By the end of the third quarter, TerBush had 21 completions and 259 yards passing, besting both of his previous career highs (19, 220). Three of Bush's catches from the quarterback went for scores.
It was exactly what the Boilermakers wanted to see.
"He showed that he can throw the ball, he can make the right reads, the right checks, he can make the play last a little longer with his legs and he throws a good ball," said Antavian Edison, who caught six passes for 99 yards and a TD. "Any time you throw four touchdowns is always a confidence booster."
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