Marve, Henry likely to share time
Robert Marve began last season as the starter, but he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game. Rob Henry took over and proved deserving of playing time. Both are back, and both will play. How much, and in what order, has not been determined.
“A lot of people talk about our quarterback situation, saying if you don’t have a starter, you don’t have a quarterback,” Hope said. “I disagree. We have two really good quarterbacks. Both of those guys are great players, great people.”
No matter who plays, the end result needs to be better. Purdue was hit hard with injuries last year during a 4-8 season, and athletic director Morgan Burke already has said he expects the team to play in the postseason after consecutive losing records under Hope.
Hope believes the Boilermakers will deliver in the Big Ten’s new Leaders Divison, where Wisconsin is the preseason favorite.
“If we can stay healthy and hang onto the football and take care of football, we can be very successful this upcoming season,” he said.
The team lost All-America defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and star receiver Keith Smith, but 16 starters return.
“We go into the season this year with a lot of experienced players, a lot of guys that played well last year,” Hope said. “Looking back on last season, we felt like the 2010 season made us stronger and better prepared for this upcoming season.”
Marve bruised the ACL in his left knee last Sept. 18 against Ball State and tore it the next week against Toledo. He completed 67 of 99 passes for 512 yards before he was injured.
“Robert Marve is a special passer, runs well,” Hope said. “It was unfortunate that he was injured last year because I think he was starting to get it together. His game was really beginning to come on.”
Henry led Purdue to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten with wins over Northwestern and Minnesota. He cut the index finger on his throwing hand against Ohio State and was in and out of the lineup after that. He was primarily a runner early last season, but he passed for 441 yards and five touchdowns in his last two games.
Hope expects big things from the sophomore, who led the team with 547 yards rushing last season.
“He’s a fantastic runner,” Hope said. “Still developing some as a passer, but was really improving. I was really proud how he finished the season directing our offense, becoming a great leader.”
Purdue’s top rusher from 2009, Ralph Bolden, returns after missing last season with a torn ACL.
Junior college transfer Akeem Shavers is expected to contribute at running back. He rushed for 450 yards and averaged nine yards per carry last season at Tyler (Texas) Junior College.
Smith led the Big Ten in receptions in 2009, but he was lost to a knee injury early last season, and the NCAA did not grant him a sixth year of eligibility. That leaves Antavian Edison (32 catches, 316 yards, 4 TDs) as the top returning pass catcher.
Kicker Carson Wiggs should be one of the nation’s best. He made 15 of 19 last season with a long of 52 yards, and made a 67-yarder in the spring game.
“I think he’s the most exciting field-goal kicker in all of football,” Hope said. “He nails world-record field goals on a regular basis in practice. If you look at other athletes that train, if they train at world record performance on a regular basis in practice, that’s always a good sign.”
Punter Cody Webster is back for his sophomore year after averaging 43.3 yards per punt last season, the third-highest average in school history.
Four starters return on the offensive line—center Peters Drey, left tackle Dennis Kelly, right tackle Nick Mondek and right guard Ken Plue.
Purdue returns nine starters on defense.
Kawann Short, who had six sacks and 12½ tackles for loss last season, anchors the defensive line along with defensive end Gerald Gooden.
Dwayne Beckford and Joe Holland are back at linebacker.
The entire secondary returns. Ricardo Allen intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns last season, top tackler Logan Link is back at safety and cornerback Josh Johnson and safety Albert Evans also return.
“We have an unbelievable group of young men,” Hope said. “We believe as a football team that coming into the season we are further along than almost every phase of our team, almost every position that we have been the last couple of years. So we’re optimistic and excited about the potential of the upcoming season.”