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Boilermakers look to rebound from injury-riddled ‘10

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | AUGUST 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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One could have fielded a pretty good football team using injured Purdue players in 2010. The Boilermakers’ infirmary report read like a list of the team’s top playmakers.

Starting and reigning All-Big Ten running back Ralph Bolden? Tore his ACL.

Starting quarterback and highly touted Miami transfer Robert Marve? So did he.

Starting and reigning All-Big Ten wide receiver Keith Smith? Tore his ACL also. and added a torn MCL for good measure.

But head coach Danny Hope didn’t use his team’s attrition — let alone that specific rash of torn ligaments — as a crutch to defend a disappointing 4-8 record.

In fact, he believes it could be a good thing.

Seventeen true freshmen saw playing time as a result, while only six seniors played. Purdue was among the least experienced teams in the country.

“We felt like the 2010 season made us stronger and better prepared for this upcoming season,” Hope said last month at Big Ten media days in Chicago. “A lot of guys were banged up last year, [so] young guys had their chances to come in and play, get some experience.”

To help avert another injury-filled year, Purdue hired Duane Carlisle — a former strength and conditioning coach with the San Francisco 49ers — as the school’s new director of sports performance. With Carlisle comes an emphasis on “pre-hab,” techniques and drills to minimize injury risk.

But injury wasn’t the reason Marve’s services were nearly taken away from Purdue for the second-straight season. In a Yahoo Sports report, Marve was implicated as one of 72 Miami (Fla.) football players and other athletes to whom Ponzi scheme artist Nevin Shapiro provided improper benefits.

Fortunately for Hope, Purdue contacted the NCAA and learned that Marve will be eligible for the season despite the ongoing investigation. Now the focus is making sure Marve’s left knee is fully recovered.

“It’s been a lot of rehab,” Marve told the Journal Review on Aug. 18. “A lot of time focusing on my knee, trying to get quads and my hamstrings strong again around my joints. I’m still fighting the battle a little bit.”

How the Boilermakers will use Marve is also a little uncertain. Rob Henry stepped in after Marve’s injury and dazzled people with his athleticism as a true freshman.

Right now, Henry is listed as the team’s starter and Marve is the backup. But Hope said a two-quarterback system is likely.

“It won’t be the bread and butter of our offense, but something that has potential and a style of offense that we have the [personnel] to execute,” Hope said. “That will be part of the plan, absolutely.”

Henry is concerned more about improving from last year’s 4-8 record than he is with playing time.

“We’re confident as a team with whoever is behind center,” he told the Journal Review. “We’re competing against ourselves and trying to make ourselves the best players and best quarterbacks that we can possibly be.”


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