The seasons had by Oklahoma State University and Purdue University aren’t too different.
The glaring similarity is at quarterback.
It’s been well-known of the success OSU had in Big 12 play with three quarterbacks each winning a league contest. The Boilermakers, too, have gone through the season with a three-headed rotation at the quarterback position — though it was due to both injuries and inconsistencies.
“It’s important that our players know who’s in the game, but at the same time you can’t lean too hard in any one direction because their top two guys both run and they both pass,” OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said.
Purdue’s starting quarterback, Robert Marve, took over for Caleb TerBush midway through the season. Marve helped propel Purdue down the stretch to become bowl eligible — doing so with his left knee lacking an ACL.
For Young, it’s no real surprise to see Marve having success at Purdue. After all, Young and Marve have already crossed paths before this Jan. 1 bowl.
In Young’s only year at the University of Miami, Marve started in 11 games as a freshman for the Hurricane, before transferring to the university in Columbia City, Ind.
“I just remember him being such a competitor — and he was only a freshman at the time,” Young said. “He ended up starting early and then got hurt. But I thought he was a heck of a player and knew he was going to have a heck of a college career.”
Young felt so highly of Marve that when he came to Oklahoma State to become the defensive coordinator for his alma mater, he suggested to Mike Gundy of pursuing the young quarterback.
“When I first got here and he was transferring, I tried to talk us into recruiting him,” Young said. “But at the time, we didn’t have a slot open. But he was a free agent at the time, if you will, and I really liked a lot of things about him.”
Though Marve and TerBush are classified as Purdue’s top quarterbacks, Rob Henry has played the most games at quarterback for the Boilermakers, playing in 11 of Purdue’s 12 games. But Henry isn’t just a quarterback for the Boilermakers, he’s more along the lines of a J.W. Walsh — more of a threat to run it when in the game, as opposed to going to the air with the ball.
“He gives them an extra weapon for their offense,” linebacker Lyndell Johnson said. “They use him in third-and-short and give him an option to pull it down and run with it. So it’s kind of like how we use J.W. as another threat out there as another weapon to try to get that first down.”
Henry has just 38 pass attempts — completing 21 of his tosses — for 216 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He has also rushed the ball 28 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
While the numbers may not compare to Walsh, the ability is still there. And that’s something Young said can help his defense to prepare for Henry.
“It helps a lot. You’ve got to know that his strength is in running the football,” Young said. “He can still throw it, but his strength, like J.W., is running. You’ve got to make sure your rush lanes are filled up.”