Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush has some mojo. So do his Boilermakers football teammates.
After rallying to finish 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2007, the Boilermakers are considered a dark horse in the depleted Leaders Division.
“It’s a lot different now,” said TerBush, the former Metamora High School star who started all 13 games last season after being promoted from third string to starter a week before the season.
“I have the confidence behind me. I know I can go out there, play well and be successful.”
“It’s that confidence that goes across the board. Everyone has that vibe. The bowl game last year was a stepping stone. We’re going higher this year.”
TerBush was elevated to No. 1 when projected starter Rob Henry suffered a knee injury and backup Robert Marve couldn’t take over the spot because of a slow recovery from a knee injury. Purdue redshirted quarterback Sean Robinson, the former Rochester standout, last season and then moved him to weak-side linebacker in the spring.
When Purdue reports for preseason camp Friday, TerBush is the starter ahead of Marve and Henry.
“We have three experienced quarterbacks, three very talented quarterbacks, three very driven quarterbacks,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “Caleb TerBush was the starter last season. He started every game, didn’t throw an interception in the last four and a half games, threw for 62 percent of completions. He really improved throughout the course of the season and did a fine job.
“So he came out of the season as No. 1. He went into spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback. He came out of spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback, and he’ll go into fall camp as the No. 1 quarterback.”
If all three quarterbacks play well in camp, the depth chart won’t likely change, Hope said, while Purdue will keep the quarterbacks off limits to contact.
Any switch may depend “on how they play in games that could dictate a change in the depth chart,” said Hope, who would like to utilize “all three of those guys throughout the course of the season in different facets of our offense.”
A fifth-year senior, TerBush threw for 1,905 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions a year ago. He split time with Marve (633 yards, four touchdowns, five interceptions). Purdue won three of its final four games, including a 37-32 victory over Western Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit.
TerBush is a strong-armed pocket passer who worked to improve his mobility in the offseason.
“Making plays outside the pocket,” TerBush said. “That’s not one of my biggest strengths. Hopefully, there has been improvement.”
Page 2 of 2 - After surviving the jump to the starting lineup last season behind a line thinned by injury and suspension, TerBush pleased Purdue with his composure and ability to protect the ball, even if that meant keeping it basic.
“As the season progressed, Caleb got better, and our offensive line got better,” Hope said. “That will greatly increase our ability from the passing efficiency standpoint and make a difference in the vertical game. I think Caleb will have a heck of a year.”
Meanwhile, Robinson is a second-stringer behind returning starter Will Lucas. Robinson impressed the Boilers’ coaching staff by making a quick transition in the spring.
“He hasn’t played the position so everything is brand new to him, but he seems to have a knack for playing fast anyway,” Hope said during spring drills. “I’m watching him, and I can’t tell sometimes that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.’’