Purdue's Quarterback Question: Caleb TerBush or Robert Marve?

Mark BerglundContributor IIISeptember 20, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 04: Robert Marve #9 of the Purdue Boilermakers looks for a receiver against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 4, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defated Purdue 23-12. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Through the first three games of the 2011 season, Caleb TerBush has posted a 2-1 record as the starting quarterback. He has completed 51 of 81 passes (63 percent) for 546 yards, three TDs and one INT. That equates to a 129.3 QB rating and places him seventh in the Big Ten. Additionally, he has been sacked eight times and has 27 carries for 95 yards with one touchdown.

TerBush has minimized his mistakes, but that is due in part to the opposing defense missing some easy opportunities, particularly what should have been a game-clinching interception against Rice in Week 2. His QB rating is not terrible and is quite a bit higher than last year’s team QB rating, but this was accomplished against Middle Tennessee, Rice and Southeast Missouri State (SEMO).

To paraphrase CBS Sports Network announcer Rich Rodriguez, TerBush has really played within his means. This is true, as he hasn’t tried to really force any plays and has been able to make some decent plays on the ground when things break down.

But this is where the problem arises. TerBush has done a good job of playing to his ability, but that ability has not been able to cut it for the Boilers this year, as the offense (nor defense) has not looked promising (not counting FCS SEMO), and Purdue has no excuse for not starting 3-0.

The competition only gets tougher the rest of the way. TerBush has been mediocre against inferior competition and has shown no ability to elevate his game to a higher level. Purdue isn’t good enough this year to survive with below average to average quarterback play.

Robert Marve has only seen the field against SEMO, which is notably inferior to the first two opponents, but he still looked better than TerBush did. He threw one incompletion, a drop by Edison, and showed the ability to complete a big pass, with a 26-yard dart to Edison on a 3rd-and-15. I have yet to see TerBush make a big pass downfield.

Robert Marve also has the notoriety of being a highly touted prospect. Although it hasn’t really surfaced in his collegiate career, there is still the chance he could prove why he was Florida’s Mr. Football. He does show the ability to make big plays and he has a strong arm with (before the injuries) good mobility.

TerBush just doesn’t seem to have quite the zip or accuracy that Marve has. In their common game, both QBs put up good numbers, but Marve had the best throw of the game (the 3rd-and-15 throw) and TerBush’s incompletions were poor passes, not drops.

I don’t know if Marve would actually perform better against Notre Dame, on October 1st, than TerBush, but I do know that Marve has the ability to play at a higher level than TerBush.

If the rest of the Purdue team was great and only needed the quarterback to not make mistakes, I think TerBush would be just fine, but the Boilers need a big time quarterback if they want to go bowling. If Purdue were 3-0 right now, I would start TerBush at least until a loss, but Purdue has already lost to Rice with TerBush behind center. Right now the Boilers don’t appear to be headed anywhere, so why not put the season in the hands of a Florida Mr. Football with the potential to be another great Purdue quarterback?