Big Ten: Colton McKey

Robert Marve's new coaches and teammates at Purdue insist he's a changed man. They vouch for his character as an improved student, a good teammate and a willing leader, and they say they've seen his transformation take shape during the past 10 months.

For those still unconvinced, Marve offered up an interesting display Friday at his first meeting with reporters this spring. Rather than answer questions by himself, the quarterback chose to be surrounded by members of Purdue's offensive line, a group that will play a huge role in his success or failure in 2010.

The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier's Mike Carmin has a detailed account of the unusual interview session with the Miami transfer, considered the front-runner to win Purdue's starting quarterback job.

When asked about the health of his knee after tearing his ACL last spring, Marve replied like this:
"I tore my ACL. You tore your ACL," Marve said, looking at converted tackle Colton McKey. "My knee feels good. Anybody else have knee problems? The whole offensive line. I'm good, we're all good."

OK ...

When asked about the quarterback competition this spring, Marve answered:
"Like I said, these boys make it easy," Marve said of the linemen. "As long as Brew's [Andrew Brewer] got it, I got it. As long as [Rick] Schmeig's got it, I got it. Trevor [Foy], the whole nine yards. We're going to have fun. Like I said, we all came to Purdue for a winning season. I feel like we have a great chance to win the Rose Bowl."

There's no mystery to what Marve tried to do Friday: show that he's a team guy and share the spotlight with others, especially players who don't get much of it. Which is fine for now. Head coach Danny Hope seemed to enjoy the approach, saying, "I'm not surprised to see him sharing his first interview with his teammates. That was great."

Sure, it comes across a little forced, and it shouldn't become a habit. But by all accounts, Marve has made a concerted effort to clean up his act at Purdue, and he's succeeding.

A time will come when Marve needs to face the media on his own. That's what all quarterbacks do. And barring a surprise, he'll be the starter in 2010. As Carmin writes, Marve "will likely become the face of the program."

Soon enough, the face must stand alone.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
 The Boilermakers miss Dustin Keller's production this season.

Most preseason evaluations of Purdue's offense pointed to the loss of top wide receiver Dorien Bryant, who set a team record with 6,219 all-purpose yards and led the Big Ten in receptions per game in each of his final three seasons. Though Bryant's production shouldn't be understated, anyone who watched Purdue knew tight end Dustin Keller would be the bigger loss.

Keller was a 6-foot-3, 240-pound matchup problem who finished his Purdue career with 142 receptions for 1,882 yards (13.3-yard average) and 16 touchdowns. As one Big Ten head coach told me this spring, "He was one of the best tight ends in the country. You played him in man, who takes him, the safety or the linebacker? You put a safety on him, you've got a size mismatch. You put a linebacker on him, you've got a speed mismatch."

Looking at Purdue's offense entering Week 7, the absence of a capable tight end who can catch short crossing routes or beat defenses down the field really stings. Junior Kyle Adams, who took all of the snaps with the first-team offense in preseason camp, has been out with a knee injury, and Purdue hasn't gotten much from the reserves.

The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier's Tom Kubat addressed Purdue's lack of production at tight end:

After the first five games, Purdue has completed 113 passes but only five have been caught by the tight ends. Senior Jerry Wasikowski has three receptions for 19 yards, and redshirt freshman Colton McKey has caught two passes for nine yards.

Quarterback Curtis Painter admits things are different from last year when Dustin Keller caught 68 passes as a senior.

"Kyle is a great player but I don't think we're changing the game plan. I think all of our tight ends are the same style. They're good blockers. Dustin was kind of a rare case. He was a very athletic guy who was more of a receiver."

Senior wideouts Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy have filled the void left by Bryant, combining for 55 receptions and 723 receiving yards. But Keller's absence has really hurt the Boilers.

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