For the first time in about two years, Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve will start a game.
And both will be playing for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligaments in their knees.
They will make their starting debuts for the Irish and Boilermakers when the teams open the season at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium.
You definitely feel for a guy like that, Crist said of playing against Marve. You understand what its like for an athlete having that injury, and you just wish the best for everybody. Its just a unique situation, I guess.
Crist tore his right ACL in a 40-14 victory over Washington State on Oct. 31 in San Antonio. He had surgery in November and was able to participate in a limited capacity during spring practices.
Marve tore his left ACL in May 2009 during a flag football game with friends soon after announcing his decision to transfer from Miami. He had surgery that June and participated in a limited capacity during spring practices.
Each had a graft taken from the patellar tendon in his injured knee to repair his ACL. After surgery, the quarterbacks started on the hard part – rehab.
Rehab took about a year, I would have to say, where I finally felt like the old me again, Marve said.
Not feeling like himself was one of the most difficult parts of recovery for Crist.
Its tough as an athlete when you are able to make athletic moves and explosive movements on a daily basis and you go from that to the day after surgery when you cant even lift your leg up, Crist said. Its frustrating.
But that frustration is in the past for both players.
Marve was rusty during spring drills. But when things slowed down in the summer, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior was able to put more time into rehab.
Im stronger now than I was before the accident happened, Marve said. I feel faster than I was before the accident. Its a different kind of feeling. In spring, I just got back to being able to run.
I started feeling normal when I didnt have to ice it every single time, and I didnt feel sore and beat up afterward. This summer is the first time I felt normal from a recovery point.
Crist said he started feeling recovered at the start of fall practice. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound junior was wearing a knee brace when preseason camp began, but he started practicing without the brace at times after the second week.
Crist gained confidence in his knee when he was able to start moving like he did before the surgery.
Really when you are out there on the field you dont have time to sit there and think about it because you have too much else going on, and you just want to compete, Crist said. You cant compete playing scared.
The quarterbacks have been off limits for contact leading up to the season. But neither one is afraid of taking the first big hit in a game.
I think that is completely necessary to get that out of the way, Crist said. But you cant go out there and played scared. That doesnt work.
If its going to come, its going to come.