WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. — The Boilermakers were without several of its big-name starters and could not stop a dominant TCU running attack, as the Horned Frogs earned a victory in West Lafayette, 34-13 Saturday night in front of 60,037.
Fifth-year offensive lineman Matt McCann, junior wide receiver Jared Sparks, fifth-year linebacker Markus Bailey and, most notably, fifth-year quarterback and the nation’s leader in passing yards, Elijah Sindelar, were all inactive against TCU (2-0). That adds up to an even 100 games of experience stuck on the sideline.
Purdue (1-2) head coach Jeff Brohm went with redshirt freshman Jack Plummer to fill in for Sindelar, who suffered a concussion on the last offensive play of last week’s 42-24 win against Vanderbilt. In his first career start, Plummer finished 13-for-29 with 181 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
The Boilermakers entered Saturday’s game ranked in the bottom-10 as a team in rushing yards. Against TCU, Purdue, excluding quarterback runs, ran the football 17 times and totaled 39 yards on the ground. Including the three sacks allowed, the Boilers finished with just 23 yards rushing and currently rank 124th out of 130 in the category.
“Well, the score says it all,” Brohm said postgame. “It was a bad day for us. It doesn’t matter who we have in there, who we’re missing, who we’re not. We have to play better. No running game once again; we have to figure out a way to get that fixed. The makeup of our team now – our passing game has to work to set up the run.”
On the flip side, the Boilermaker defense lost the battle in the trenches and could not find a way to stop the Horned Frogs run-game led by senior Darius Anderson. Accumulating 346 yards on the ground, TCU controlled the clock for 82 total plays compared to Purdue’s 54 and managed 24 unanswered points to put the game away.
Anderson finished with 179 yards on 16 rushes and two touchdowns. Not to be outshined was senior back Sewo Olonilua, who completed his effort with a touchdown on 18 attempts and 106 yards.
The game was competitive early, as the score stood 13-6 at halftime. Purdue’s defense was looking for some help from the offensive unit, but it never showed, as TCU ultimately dominated the time of possession battle, 40:33 to 19:27.
Of Purdue’s 15 total drives, the Boilers totaled six three and outs, threw two interceptions and turned the ball over on downs once. Rondale Moore was targeted four times and finished with three catches for 25 yards.
“I knew going in they’d be good on defense,” Brohm said. “They did a good job of sitting on routes and making us throw to somebody other than Rondale. I think early on our defense did some decent things. We didn’t help them out on offense early on and as it went along, it got a little rough on us.”
Among the defensive bright spots in an otherwise ugly affair included a George Karlaftis interception and sack, as well as sacks from Simeon Smiley and Anthony Watts. Ben Holt led the game with 17 total tackles and 10 solo.
Offensively, tight end Brycen Hopkins led the team with 77 yards receiving on four catches. Redshirt freshman Amad Anderson reeled in his first career touchdown catch on Plummer’s first career touchdown throw, which totaled 54 yards. Anderson finished his night with two catches for 59 yards.
Overall, the numbers don’t speak to Plummer’s performance. Without a run game, the redshirt freshman in his first career start performed admirably on a night where he was pressured relentlessly. He showed positive signs with his legs and made some quality throws. Ultimately, the team just didn’t do enough collectively.
“Jack hung in there,” Brohm said. “I knew this would be a tough matchup for him out of the gate. A lot of pressure was on him, but he’ll get better. We need to get better around him. It starts with me.”
To add to the pile of injuries, freshman wideout David Bell left Saturday’s contest after falling hard on his left arm. Brohm did not go into detail about the severity of the injury postgame, but early indications suggest the issue relates to Bell’s shoulder.
Purdue will limp into its bye week looking to get healthy before they open Big-Ten play at home against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 28.