CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -It's been nearly two years since Miami quarterback Robert Marve has taken a snap in a real football game. Almost two years since he handed the ball off, thrown for a touchdown, or done any on-field celebrating with teammates.
He's looking forward to doing all that again.
And, oddly, there's something else he can't wait for: Marve is longing to get hit again, because that will mean he's finally back in the game.
``I hope I get knocked (around) soon,'' Marve said.
Oh, the Florida Gators will probably try to accommodate that request Saturday night.
rricanes (1-0) on Saturday night when they visit No. 5 Florida (1-0) in the resumption of one of college football's top rivalries.
``I expect Marve to do great things,'' said Miami center Xavier Shannon, the son of the Hurricanes' head coach.
Marve won the starting job in training camp over Jacory Harris, who threw for 190 yards and accounted for two touchdowns in Miami's season-opening 52-7 win over Charleston Southern last Thursday night. Harris will play against the Gators in the Hurricanes' version of a two-quarterback system, but the bulk of the work will go to Marve, who couldn't have hid his excitement if he tried Tuesday.
``To be able to go out there after some doctors said they don't know if I'd be able to play anymore, it's just a blessing to be out there,'' Marve said. ``I'm going to have fun with it.''
Marve was one of the most coveted quarterbacks in the country when he signed with Miami, where some expected him to play as a true freshman last year. All those plans changed July 16, 2007, when he and two teammates were making a late-night drive from their homes in southwest Florida to the Coral Gables campus.
Teammate Jermaine McKenzie was driving and fell asleep behind the wheel of the 2007 Dodge Charger owned by Marve's family. The car flipped at least six times before coming to rest, flattened, at the base of a tree. Marve, in the back seat, suffered a broken wrist, dislocated finger and a deep cut on his left hand, and needed at least two surgeries to repair the damage.
Surviving something like that likely makes the prospect of facing 90,000 screaming Gators fans Saturday night - even if it will be in his first college game - a bit less daunting.
``We know him very well and he's a tough nut,'' Florida coach Urban Meyer said. ``I don't think he'll be fazed. I know it's his first snap but he's a tough character from a very good high school program, so we're going to do what we have to do. I hope our crowd is primed. I can only imagine what it's going to be like, so that does play a factor. I know him and I know his family and he's a tough dude.''
It's an odd matchup in the sense that three quarterbacks who won Florida ``Mr. Football'' awards - the state's top prep football honor - will play, with reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow prevailing in 2005, Marve in 2006 for Tampa Plant and Harris last year for Miami Northwestern. All won state titles, too.
As a senior, Marve threw for what were state records of 4,380 yards and 48 touchdowns, surpassing marks set by Tebow.
So in a way, it's fitting that Marve and Tebow - who never met on the field in high school, although Tampa Plant beat Tebow's alma mater Ponte Vedra Beach Nease for the Florida Class 4A title in 2006 when Marve ended his career by throwing a touchdown pass in the final seconds - finally will face off at the college level.
``We've talked a couple of times when I was in high school and he was already at Florida,'' Marve said. ``I really look up to him. He's a great player. He's done great in college. You can't take anything away from him. He was a great high school player and now he's doing the same things at Florida.''
This game is being hyped for so many reasons, the least of which is Marve vs. Tebow.
Miami has won six straight in the series, with no losses against the Gators since 1985. But the Gators are two years removed from a national title and are expected to contend for another this year, while the Hurricanes - three-touchdown underdogs in this game - are rebuilding coming off last year's 5-7 record.
Marve has been here before.
Before he emerged as the guy who broke some of Tebow's records, Tampa Plant wasn't exactly a Florida high school powerhouse. With Marve at the controls, that changed, and he's anxious to get his chance at engineering another turnaround at the college level.
The way he sees it, the best stage to make that happen would be The Swamp on Saturday night.
``I know how great it can be to be on the upside of a program that's been down for a second,'' Marve said. ``I'm just trying to do as much as I can to prepare and help us get to where we need to be.''
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