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Hope Rests On TerBush

Despite throwing for a career-high 295 yards and tying a career-best with three touchdown passes in Purdue’s season-opening 48-6 victory over Eastern Kentucky last Saturday, Purdue quarterback Robert Marve will return to his role as a reserve when the Boilermakers travel to No. 22 Notre Dame on Sept. 8.

Purdue head coach Danny Hope addressed the media as the Boilermakers prepare for a road game at Notre Dame Saturday

Purdue coach Danny Hope said Tuesday that Caleb TerBush, who was declared the starter at the end of fall camp but was suspended for the opener due to a violation of team rules, will reclaim that role against the Fighting Irish.

Marve was 30 of 38 passing and three touchdowns in his best effort since playing for Miami in 2008. Nevertheless, Hope praised TerBush for his game management ability, which sets him apart from Marve (senior) and junior Rob Henry.

“We're in great shape,” Hope said. “We're very fortunate to have three good, experienced, for the most part healthy quarterbacks — guys that all three of them are a big part of our game plan each week. We went into the game last week without Caleb TerBush, and I thought Robert Marve did a heck of a job. We were fortunate to get Rob Henry in the game early, and he had to knock a little bit of the rust off, if you will.

“But [TerBush] separated himself from the others. It would be to our best advantage, I believe, to start Caleb this weekend because I feel like a smooth start in the beginning of the game at South Bend could be very important to our football team.
We're geared, from an offensive and a defensive and special teams standpoint, to be able to catch up if we get behind, but that certainly isn't our first choice on how to start the game. So my gut feeling is that we go in and start Caleb TerBush, and I think that's in the best interests of our football team.”

Less than a week ago Hope booted linebacker Dwayne Beckford off the team after the senior was arrested for the fourth time in 14 months. He had 91 tackles last season and was Purdue's second-leading tackler.

Antwon Higgs (senior), Joe Gilliam (sophomore) and converted quarterback Sean Robinson (junior) are battling to replace Beckford permanently in the lineup when Purdue plays Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. Gilliam got the nod against Eastern Kentucky and registered four tackles.

“I was really pleased with the performance of Joe Gilliam,” Hope said. “He's an aggressive player. “He's a smart guy. He had a very good camp. He was a guy we thought had performed well enough in camp to certainly be in the mix with the varsity play with the game on the line. Regardless where we were at with Beckford returning as the leading tackler on our football team, we were still very excited about Joe Gilliam.

“I thought that Antwon Higgs did very well. He's an experienced player. He's played some snaps around here the last four years, really likes football. He's a big body. He's a little over 6'2" and about 250 pounds. He brings some physical presence at the linebacker position.”

When Hope had a chance to dissect film from Notre Dame’s 50-10 romp over Navy in Dublin, Ireland, he pointed out some obvious Fighting Irish strengths: the offensive and defensive lines, and senior tight end Tyler Eifert.

“They're awfully good from the line of scrimmage,” Hope said. “They have a heck of an offensive line — big and strong and experienced veteran offensive line. And I think their front seven on defense is outstanding. They have, obviously, a lot of great players on their football team. Tyler Eifert is certainly one of the top players at his position on a national level. Great skill players, particularly in the backfield. What really sticks out in my mind is their strength off the line of scrimmage with their offensive line and the strength of their defensive front seven.”

Eifert’s father, Greg, played basketball at Purdue in the early 1980s, and the family spent a lot of time on campus in West Lafayette.

“He's big and fast,” Hope said. “He's a heck of an athlete. I remember we recruited him hard here at Purdue when he was a senior in high school. We thought he would be an excellent tight end prospect. He was a developmental player. He needed to get bigger and stronger, and he certainly has, and they do a great job of featuring him in their offense.”

Eifert only had four receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown against Navy on an afternoon when first-time starting quarterback Everett Golson (sophomore) didn’t have to rely on his arm. Golson completed 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards and the scoring strike to Eifert, and the rookie also tossed one interception. The Notre Dame running game carried the offense, rushing for 293 yards and five touchdowns, led by senior Theo Riddick (107 yards and two scores) and sophomore George Atkinson III (99 yards and two TDs), who played in his first college game.

“I thought he did a great job for a first time quarterback in a game,” Hope said. “[He] did a heck of a job managing their offense. He looks like he's a good decision‑maker. He did a good job of taking care of the football. They didn't feature him much as a runner and didn't have to. They handed the ball off and pounded away. They were able to do what they wanted and needed to do against Navy. But he is a good passer with a good composure. He makes good decisions for a young quarterback, and he is also a mobile quarterback. So he is a threat as a runner as well.”

  • Wes Morgan

    More from Hope on a variety of topics discussed Tuesday:

    On Notre Dame not having to use everything in the playbook against Navy:

    "We have seen a lot of tape on them. We have tape from all of last year."

    On not having tape of Everett Golson:

    "That's the problem. You're not sure whether they'll come out and play the same style of offense that they played last week against Navy. They played a lot of two and three tight end sets and pounded away with their running game and didn't put a whole lot on their young quarterback, which is probably a good decision and very rational and makes a lot of sense, obviously.
    I think, as far as our football team goes, we expected to beat Eastern Kentucky, and it's important to beat the teams that you're supposed to beat and really important to beat them like you're supposed to beat them. I think the win for our football team this past weekend was huge. Obviously, they probably feel the same way. They went in with a rookie quarterback three‑quarters of the way around the country and played and played well and won.

    "Again, which offense will they feature the most, the one that they played against Navy? Or will they go back and do more of what they have done in the past where there's not as many tight ends on the field, and they could be in the shotgun more and pitch it around more. We don't really know. So obviously we have to prepare for both."

  • Wes Morgan

    On how tough the decision was not to start Marve against Notre Dame after his performance against Eastern Kentucky:

    "We consider it every day. That's why we go out and practice and compete, and that's why it's very important to have open competition. I think Robert played very, very well. I think that, if Caleb would have played in the game against the level of competition, I think he would have played very well too. So obviously, because he played well, we certainly consider him as a starter.

    "Again, my gut feeling going in is that we will probably start Caleb this Saturday just because he has a great knack for managing the offense and avoiding negative plays more so than most of the other quarterbacks that I've been around.
    So, obviously, Robert Marve gets a lot of consideration as a starter, and each game is going to be different. Each week is going to be different. Each week their performances are going to be different. There's nothing ever etched in stone obviously, but it may be to our best advantage this weekend to start Caleb TerBush."

  • Wes Morgan

    On possibly doing some different things defensively to get after Notre Dame's rookie quarterback:

    "I'm not going to get the game plan out, but we were pretty vanilla against Eastern Kentucky University. We didn't have to open up the gamut and pressures of play calling that we have the potential to utilize from the defensive standpoint. I think you go into every ball game with a wrinkle or two. You don't want the opponent to know exactly what you're going to do on every single snap. So certainly we can change some things up, and the fact that we have an inexperienced quarterback, that could be part of the game plan. We're not going to change everything we do based on the inexperience of one player at one position."

  • Wes Morgan

    On Purdue's strength being its defensive line, and how it will match up with what appears to be Notre Dame's strength — its rushing game:

    "I think that will be fun to watch. One of the keys to victory this Saturday is the team that plays best across the line of scrimmage. Again, they have an outstanding front seven. Their defensive football team has an outstanding front seven. That will be a challenge for our offensive line. Our offensive line is very athletic. We have some experience, and we are gaining some continuity, but it will be a challenge in some ways for our O‑line against their defensive front. And then on the flip side, they have a big strong veteran offensive line, and we have a big strong veteran defensive line, and so I think that will be a great matchup and something that will be a lot of fun to watch for all those that really love the line of scrimmage play."

  • For the purest, this should be a very good football game.

  • "Hope booted linebacker Dwayne Beckford off the team after the senior was arrested for the fourth time in 14 months"

    The ol "4 strikes and you're out" rule....way to lay down the law, Purdue. I'm sure their alums are proud of the no nonsense, I mean some nonsense..er, ok, a bunch of nonsense but not total anarchy approach of Coach Hope.

  • ESPN did a nice show on Purdue. Folks around the program have been talking Big Ten Champs going into this year. This should be one heck of a game.

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