After Week 2’s thrilling victory over Vanderbilt University, the Boilermakers now have a new test: Texas Christian University.
The Horned Frogs (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) have consistently been one of the best teams in the Big 12 over the past decade and will present a challenge to the young Boilermaker team.
Purdue (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) has been one of the best offensive teams in the country based on the team’s stats through Week 2, thanks in large part to its aerial attack. Fifth-year quarterback Elijah Sindelar leads the country in passing yards with 932. Sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore leads the nation in two categories with 24 receptions and 344 receiving yards. Unfortunately for Purdue, shutting down offenses is the Horned Frogs’ specialty.
“I think they’re very athletic on defense,” said Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm.
“That’s been their strength: Two really good defensive tackles, two really, really good corners, and it’ll be a challenge for us. On both sides of the ball, we’ll have to step up and play well.”
TCU is one of the best defenses in the country, statistically. They have the highest-ranked first-down defense, the eighth best passing defense and the 11th best total defense in the FBS, according to NCAA.com.
In addition to TCU’s defense, Purdue also has the concussion Sindelar suffered against Vanderbilt looming over its head. As of Wednesday night, his status for Saturday’s game is still unclear, which points all eyes at backup QB, redshirt freshman Jack Plummer. Although Plummer has yet to see the field in his collegiate career, his coaches are confident in his ability to command the offense.
“We’re very confident in (Plummer), and I think that he would have had to go in if we extended the game longer,” Brohm said. “He’s had good weeks of practice. He’s improved. He’s got some moxie to him, some athleticism. I think he’s gaining confidence because he’s practiced well, and he has to always be ready to go.”
Plummer’s teammates also have the utmost respect for his ability.
“(Plummer’s) a gun slinger, man,” said sophomore center Viktor Beach. “He’s a beast. I have no doubt in my mind that if for some reason (Sindelar) can’t go Saturday, Plummer will be ready to go. He’s not backing down from it, he’s not backing away.”
If Plummer does play, he will have the tools to be successful in the passing game. Of course Moore will be the number one option, but the Boilers have freshman David Bell and redshirt freshman Amad Anderson Jr., who have emerged as legitimate receiving threats. Anderson had six receptions for 60 yards against University of Nevada. Bell caught four passes for 82 yards against Vanderbilt and caught one touchdown against Nevada. Plummer will also be able to rely on veterans such as junior wide receivers Jared Sparks and Jackson Anthrop, who have both had a big impact so far this season.
The offensive line has been very successful, only giving up one sack out of the 104 passing attempts this season. However, the unit will have its work cut out for them. They are very young, inexperienced and tend to struggle with the speed of the game at the collegiate level, according to offensive line coach Dale Williams. This week’s game against TCU will be their toughest test so far.
The Horned Frogs have two experienced defensive tackles in Corey Bethley and Ross Blacklock. Their defensive line knows how to get the quarterback, so it will be a point of emphasis for the O-line to continue to protect the quarterback as they have in Week 1 and 2.
Unfortunately for the Boilers, that will be near impossible to do if fifth-year tackle Matt McCann doesn’t play. McCann suffered an injury against Vanderbilt, and his status for Saturday is unclear at this time. He’s the most experienced lineman for Purdue and without him, it may be a long day for the quarterback.
The two teams face off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Ross-Ade Stadium.