September 25, 2012

Better QB play; Tuesday notebook





Caleb TerBush knows he needs to play better.

The fifth-year senior quarterback has been out of sorts to begin his season, first missing the opener because of suspension, then enduring a rough second half vs. Notre Dame, before having migraines the day before Purdue's Week 3 win Sept. 15.

But following the bye, TerBush says he's feeling more in rhythm.

"I'm good to go," said TerBush, who will start Saturday vs. Marshall. "The bye week definitely helped; it helped the entire team. Everybody was able to get their feet under them and get a little energy back and get ready for this home stretch."

TerBush has been up-and-down, to say the least. He's thrown for only 237 yards in his two games this season, with three touchdowns but three interceptions. Two of the picks have been ugly, including the one returned for a touchdown a week-and-a-half ago vs. Eastern Michigan.

"We've thrown some balls in previous games that are questionable," he said. "But we've been working on that. One of the biggest things we've worked on is communication in the no-huddle, and we feel like we've improved a bunch of steps in that.
"… That will help decrease the mistakes."

Coach Hope says he's encouraged that Purdue is 2-1, with a close loss at now top-10 Notre Dame, without consistently solid play from its quarterbacks; the position was expected to be a strength before the season.

"I'm excited that we can still really improve at the quarterback position, and that is key," Hope said. "We can and we will. We have an experienced quarterback who got off to a little bit of a slow start.

"… We have the potential to be very explosive on offense, and we've had some good output through the year, but we can still get a lot better."

The Boilermakers would like to start quicker offensively. Against Notre Dame, Purdue moved the ball but didn't score on its first three possessions. Then, against Eastern Michigan, it twice had three-and-outs to start the game before finding any success.

"We just have to start fast and stay on the gas pedal," TerBush said. "Last year, we scored on our first drives the last five or six games. We like to start off fast and that's something we're pushing. And we've got to minimize the mental mistakes, those plays where one person messes up."

Injury updates

Hope says he anticipates that defensive end Ryan Russell and cornerback Normondo Harris will play Saturday.

Russell left the EMU game early after re-tweaking a sore knee, and Harris has dealt with a bulky knee since summer.

"We're in good shape," he said. "I anticipate going into this weekend with everyone healthy and ready to go."

The status of Robert Marve and Ralph Bolden, however, aren't as clear-cut. Marve, a QB, damaged an ACL vs. Notre Dame and is unlikely to play vs. the Thundering Herd.

"I don't know what the timetable is going to be like for Robert Marve," he said. "But I've very optimistic that he will make a comeback this season."

Bolden, a former nearly 1,000-yard rusher, is closer, but whether he goes soon is up to him. He's been practicing, but without contact.

"I think he might be a little ways away from a confidence standpoint," Hope said.

The O-line shuffle

Purdue wants to give some of its offensive linemen a break.

To do so, it will move Justin Kitchens, the starting left tackle, to right tackle for a series or two, giving Trevor Foy a breather. In that scenario, Kevin Pamphile will move in at left tackle, where he's been rotating in with Kitchens.

Meanwhile, Robert Kugler is likely to play some at left guard, in an effort to lessen the load on veteran Peters Drey. Pamphile could also sub in there, as offensive coordinator Gary Nord mentioned on Sunday, and Cody Davis is a possibility there or at right guard, as a backup to Devin Smith.

Hope says he thinks the line can start to come together, after what's been an uneven first three games.

"That's the one position that I believe that we're starting to achieve some continuity at," he said. "That's really, really important. The same five guys have been the starters for a couple weeks in a row. Even though we had some starters back, it wasn't the most experienced offensive line."

Drey could be a key. The senior missed the second half of last season with a back injury, and hasn't looked 100-percent yet this year. But Hope says Drey's closer to getting back to his former self.

"He's practiced much better the last couple weeks than he did at any point in time throughout the course of camp," Hope said. "So I think he's getting back in football shape again and has a little more confidence in his back than five or six weeks ago."

The extra points

Tuesday, Hope wasn't yet ready to name an extra-point kicker for Saturday's game.

Redshirt freshman Sam McCartney, who has Purdue's only field goal this year, had been getting a majority of those duties, but he's missed three this season, including two vs. EMU. He was replaced in the second half by freshman Paul Griggs.

"Whoever hits them best in practice this week is probably the guy who will run out there and kick them in the game Saturday," Hope said.

About Notre Dame …

News came earlier Tuesday that Notre Dame is dropping its annual meeting with Michigan after the 2014 season, the first scheduling domino to fall following the Irish's football agreement with the ACC.

Notre Dame and Michigan, which have had a series dating from 1887 (albeit with two significant 30-plus year gaps), were scheduled to play through the 2031 season. But each team could opt out with three-years notice.

Notre Dame did so.

With the Irish scheduled to play five games annually against ACC opponents, other opponents would have to be dropped. During the ACC agreement announcement two weeks ago, ND athletic director Jim Swarbuck said he'd like the new schedule to start in 2014, and stressed that Navy, Stanford and USC were the rivals he'd most like to keep, according to ESPN.

Hope was asked Tuesday if he'd heard anything about Purdue.

"I haven't talked to anyone about the Notre Dame-Purdue series," he said, "but I would expect to continue with it. In my mind, in a lot of ways, it's a no-brainer. The schools are so close together and it's a great rivalry game.

"… If you look at the record over the last 20 years, Notre Dame has won more than its lost, so I would assume for a lot of reasons it'd be logical to continue with the rivalry. I certainly hope it goes in that direction."




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