For 12 straight weeks, longtime scout Larry Nee will be breaking down the Big 10 QB’s in order to prepare you for the 2011 season. The staff at Conference Chalk has been placing wagers on veteran QB’s for years, and this preview will give you an idea of teams with skilled signal callers.
SYSTEM - Danny Hope is back for his 3rd year on the sidelines at Purdue, and he’ll be bringing with him Offensive Coordinator Gary Nord. In his first year calling plays, Nord showed a creative blend of runs and passes that excited the fanbase after Joe Tiller’s patented spread offense had become stale. Last year, however, Purdue was relegated to the sprint option after numerous injuries depleted their backfield. With more time for the Purdue QB’s to prepare this year, expect the playbook to once again be firing on all cylinders.
QB1 - Although Head Coach Danny Hope is insisting that Purdue will play 2 QB’s, the starter for the season opener will undoubtedly be Sophomore Rob Henry. The dual-threat athlete out of Florida, who has been called the most athletic player on the roster, got his first action in last year’s season opener against Notre Dame by sparking the offense with his running ability. After an injury to the starter, Henry assumed the starter’s role for most of the season. Henry’s passing definitely needs to improve after a dismal 53.7% of his attempts connected last year, but his speed and power are already elite. Expect drastic improvement in the passing game, but Henry will never be the next prolific passer at Purdue. He lacks the passing skills of former Boiler greats such as Griese, Brees, Orton, and this member of the Cradle of Quarterbacks.
BACKUPS - Robert Marve (Sr.), the highly touted transfer from The U, is slowly recovering from the knee injury that ended his season on 2010. If he was 100% healthy, Marve’s arm strength and playmaking ability would likely catapult him to the top of the depth chart. As it stands, Marve is still dealing with swelling in his knee and would not be able to play if the season started today. Marve’s knee is providing possible playing time to 3rd stringer Caleb TerBush (Jr.), a 6’5 strong-armed QB with decent speed. The former 3-star recruit out of Illinois was academically ineligible in 2010, but has been impressive in camp so far this summer. Rounding out the roster is Sean Robinson (So.), the 10th rated dual-threat QB of the 2009 class, who saw some unexpected playing time as a freshman due to a rash of injuries.
GAMBLING IMPLICATIONS - Rob Henry did an admirable job for the Boilermakers last year, and he should be much improved as a passer this season. With that said, for Purdue to compete with the big boys they will need a QB who can provide a consistent threat in the passing game. Will that be Marve, TerBush, or perhaps a new-look Rob Henry? If Robert Marve is ready to go once conference season rolls around, he is the best option for a balanced offense. Purdue’s veteran o-line should provide holes for Henry to run through in their first 3 games, but that plan won’t work against Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Purdue could be a great money line play to pull a few upsets at home, as they’ll be favored in very few conference games. This is a make or break year for Danny Hope, and the Purdue-Notre Dame game in West Lafayette October 1st should be a good indicator on whether you can trust the Boilermaker passing game enough to cover a few lines.
NEE’s POSITION RANKING – 8th/12