Who Should Be Purdue’s QB: Henry or Marve?


The Boiling Point: Purdue’s question at quarterback should be an easy one to answer.

It might still be June, but football’s getting close. I can tell because every time I talk to a Purdue fan the first topic of conversation is Danny Hope’s group. The chat always begins with the same hesitation about whether or not we should be excited to see the Boilers. And my answer has been consistent – I don’t know.

The No. 1 reason I hesitate to lean positive (7-5 or 6-6 to make a bowl for the first time since the 2007 Motor City Bowl) or echo national pundits’ negativity (4-8 with just one Big Ten win) is because of the question marks surrounding the team. Now, normally, questions to begin with would result in an unfavorable opinion; but, in this case, Purdue has really good potential answers to those questions. The first of which is at quarterback.

I don’t see how a winning season involves Robert Marve. This has nothing to do with the kid’s character that was in doubt after leaving Miami. I was as thrilled as any Purdue fan when Marve chose the Boilers on national TV. I thought he could be a great two-year QB for Purdue. Not anymore. This comes down to Marve being really unlucky and Purdue already putting its program – and likely Hope’s job – in the hands of another signal caller, Rob Henry.

Thanks to two ACL injuries, Marve’s never been able to build any momentum in West Lafayette. The first set back his progress toward taking over for the 2010 season. Even though Marve started the season at Notre Dame (31-of-42 with two interceptions in the 23-12 loss), he never seemed completely healthy or comfortable in the pocket. Marve certainly didn’t pass the “eye test” on being 100 percent with the knee and the next two games against Western Illinois and Ball State supported that. In those two narrow wins against inferior teams, Marve was a combined 35-of-54 (yes, a high completion rate) with two interceptions and just three TDs. Of course, in the following week against Toledo, Marve tore the knee ligament again.

Obviously, both injuries were setbacks in Marve’s career, but the second one was brutal timing for him. The first time around, he was redshirting – sitting out during his transfer year – and had more time to rehab and return to the field. The second time around, the injury kept him from doing anything productive during spring practice. Dating back to the Toledo injury and through the end of spring practice, Henry’s been running the offense solo for around 8 months. That’s a long time.

With Henry at the controls, Purdue has molded the offense around his strengths (running and athleticism), not Marve’s (vertical passing). And for good reason. Hope can’t afford to sit around and bank on Marve – who now has just one season of eligibility left – to be the QB everyone thought it might become. Not to mention, Henry has been “the guy” for a long time now. Teammates have supported him and coaches have acted accordingly.

So, if Hope has any intention of getting the Boilers bowl eligible or returning for another season in Ross-Ade Stadium, he needs to avoid any quarterback controversy or platoon and give Henry the space to run.