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Transfer Marve leads youthful Boilermakers

Matt Gamber | Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saturday’s opener may be Robert Marve’s debut in a Purdue uniform, but that won’t stop him from being the key to the Boilermakers’ success, at least on the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s important that we have a package put together for Robert that he’s comfortable with,” Boilermakers coach Danny Hope said. “We’ll go as our quarterback goes — that happens a lot. The opponent is in the same boat.”

Marve, who sat out last season due to NCAA regulations after transferring from Miami, was a highly touted high school recruit and is regarded as a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Though he hasn’t played since going 6-5 as the Hurricanes’ starter in 2008, the Irish staff knows what Marve can bring to the table. Irish coach Brian Kelly said he tried to recruit him to Cincinnati, and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco called Marve “a fast player, a rugged quarterback.”

“When you watch him run with the football, he runs with the football with authority,” Diaco said. “He is elusive in the pocket and can get to the perimeter. He has the speed to contain rushers and people giving chase, and he has the presence to have the ball in his hand and is prepared to throw it down the field while on the run.”

Purdue will usher in new starters at several other positions, namely on the offensive line and in the secondary. Though Marve’s mobility could allow him to make plays on his own and provide some relief for an untested offensive line, the big men up front will be called upon to give their quarterback some time in the pocket.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “It’s a position where continuity reaps benefits, and we’re just now starting to develop some continuity on the offensive line. We’re about 6-foot-5 and some change, about 320 [pounds], and we have some redeeming qualities.”

Much has been made of the Boilermakers’ inexperience in the defensive backfield – especially heading into a matchup with what should be a potent Irish passing attack – but Hope said his young group has been a pleasant surprise in camp.

“They’re much further along than I could ever have imagined,” Hope said. “They’re very competitive. They’re aggressive. They run well. They have a knack for sticking close to the receiver. They’ll get snapped off a couple times, someone’s going to get open – that’s the way it is when someone throws the ball a lot.”

While any team, Notre Dame and Purdue included, has unanswered questions heading into an opener, Hope said preparing for the challenge of a showdown in Notre Dame Stadium has brought out the best in his team.

“I think there’s been a great sense of urgency for our football team to prepare all summer long because of the quality of the opponent, the magnitude of this game,” Hope said. “In the long run, I think it’s a real blessing in disguise for this football team.”

Though Purdue finished last season with a 5-7 record, the Boilermakers did win four of their last six and nearly pulled off a few upsets in Hope’s first season, which gives the second-year coach confidence in this year’s team.

“We have the potential to do very well,” Hope said. “It’s a big game on a big stage. We have a lot of young guys that haven’t played in games like this or haven’t played at all. So I’m excited to see how our team performs, really excited.”