Fall was unkind to injury-plagued Boilers, but the team’s offensive coordinator is working hard with his newly healthy players to get his team ready for this season.
Now entering his third season as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, Gary Nord explained how the team struggled to learn a new offense with every week’s injury report.
“We were definitely challenged every single week because of all the injuries we suffered last season,” Nord said. “It’s hard on the guys when you put that much work in every week and then it’s all taken away, it’s almost unfair.”
Starting quarterback Robert Marve tore his ACL during the Sept. 11 matchup against Western Illinois University. Second-string quarterback Caleb TerBush was declared academically ineligible prior to the season’s start. His replacement, Rob Henry, broke his finger during the Oct. 23 loss to Ohio State. Sean Robinson, who would share time with Henry for the remainder of the season, was injured during spring workouts.
Marve was only recently cleared to begin practice again but he is still feeling a slight discomfort in his knee, Nord said. Additionally, despite missing a quarter of his fingernail, Henry is back to normal and Robinson is playing at about 90 percent.
“Like any athlete, they were disappointed following their injuries,” Nord said. “But they quickly realized how much it was affecting the entire team and they pushed themselves to recover as quickly as possible.”
Nord said with Marve still in rehab and just beginning to practice, Henry will be starting when the team kicks off against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 3. Henry will continue to have his finger, which he doubts will ever be completely normal, stiffly taped under his glove when he takes the field. During his time off, Henry has focused on improving aspects of his game such as his strength and pocket throwing.
“Football is a physical sport; you’re gonna get banged up,” Henry said. “We got hit pretty hard last year, but we’re not making excuses. This is a new year and we’re all preparing for MTSU.”
Henry explained that despite the initial compound fracture and a brief rest period, he was throwing again after a few weeks and that his hand and throwing is feeling “back to normal.”
“Everyone’s pretty much healthy and we’re excited to get back out there this season,” Henry said. “Regardless of who’s on the field, we all have the same goal: to win games.”
Nord agreed that team mentality has played an important role during the offseason.
“We’re blessed to have four strong players at a position like quarterback, not many programs can say that,” Nord said. “I love our team’s camaraderie, it helped us gather strength through the situations that were thrown at us last season. We’re all looking forward now.”