Category Archives: Purdue

A Battle Lost in the Trenches: TCU Rolls Purdue

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.

Karlaftis celebrates/credit Matt Riehle

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 wide out 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.

BOX SCORE

Let it Fly: Sindelar, Moore and the Boilers Earn Home-Opening Win

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN — The Purdue Boilermakers soared to their first win of the season thanks in large part to Elijah Sindelar’s performance, as the fifth-year quarterback accounted for six total touchdowns and threw for 509 yards in a 42-24 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores in front of 50,506 – the largest home-opening crowd since 2008.

Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar looks for a receiver against Vanderbilt (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

Sindelar found nine different receivers in the winning effort and finished his afternoon 34-for-52 with five touchdown passes, one interception and one rushing score. His favorite target was sophomore wideout and Heisman Trophy candidate Rondale Moore, who led all receivers with 220 yards on 13 catches, both career-highs. Moore completed his effort with 279 all-purpose yards, which were 34 shy of the program’s record that he set last year on August 30 v. Northwestern.

Purdue WR Rondale Moore lines up against Vanderbilt (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

“When we needed to make big plays in the passing game, he got open,” head coach Jeff Brohm said.

On top of his lightning quickness and sharp cuts throughout the contest, Moore demonstrated an elite ability to adjust to the ball mid-flight on a 70-yard pitch and catch.  

Moore deservedly garnered just about all the attention, but David Bell turned some heads as the true-freshman receiver was much more involved in the offense compared to last week. After scoring a touchdown on his lone catch against Nevada, the 6-2, 210-pound Bell snatched four out of the air for 82 yards in the home opener.

Inside the red zone, however, Sindelar was able to hit his tight ends for scores the majority of the time. Fifth-year senior Brycen Hopkins caught a 12 and 20-yard pass for touchdowns, while redshirt freshman Payne Durham found the end zone for the first time in his career.

Brycen Hopkins scores the first of his two touchdowns against Vanderbilt (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

“They’ve done a great job for us,” Brohm said. “It’s been an emphasis for us to get our tight ends more involved. Our tight ends really stepped up, made tough catches and controlled the middle of the field. It was great to see them play well.”

Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

The run game, by the way, was nowhere to be found. Purdue (1-1) totaled 540 yards in the win, but 509 came from the right wing of Sindelar. Zander Horvath led all Boilermaker rushers with eight attempts for 15 yards, good for 1.9 yards per carry.

“I would rather have some balance and run the football,” Brohm said. “It seemed like the week before, whenever we worked in a run, it was a waste of a series. So, we do need to get better.”

The team’s 31 total rushing yards were the fewest in a victory since October 28, 2000, when they defeated Ohio State with an identical 31.

The efficiency of the offense – especially in the second half – took a lot of pressure off the defense, which looked much improved than the effort from last week. Leading 14-10 at halftime, the Boilermakers outscored Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1), 21-7 through the subsequent 20:33 of game time.

Sophomore cornerback Dedrick Mackey tallied Purdue’s first takeaway of 2019 with an interception, while fifth-year senior linebacker Ben Holt owned a game-high 11 tackles and finished second on the team in solo tackles behind Mackey.

Mackey returns the interception for Purdue (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

Anthony Watts, Markus Bailey and Derrick Barnes each registered a sack, to their credit. With the score 28-10 and under a minute remaining in the third quarter, five-star freshman recruit George Karlaftis swatted a 4th-and-1 pass attempt away from Vandy quarterback Riley Neal deep into Purdue territory, which essentially put the game away. Karlaftis finished with four tackles, three of which were solo.

“I thought that was an outstanding win for our football team,” Brohm said. “Our offense made a lot of big plays in the passing game. We battled to the end.”

Vanderbilt managed to climb within 11 twice in the second half, but both times Purdue pulled away. It was all good until about 3:30 left in the fourth quarter.

In an effort to run out the clock up 42-24, Sindelar tucked and ran on a 3rd-and-14 and took a shot to what appeared to be his shoulder. The Boilermakers would not touch the ball again on offense, but Sindelar was removed from the game and took to the medical tent. Brohm did not provide an update on his injury postgame but mentioned redshirt freshman backup Jack Plummer would be ready if necessary.

Purdue students showing off the Tyler Trent commemorative towels (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

With his performance, Sindelar became the 18th player in school history with over 3,000 career passing yards. He is the first Purdue quarterback with five or more touchdown passes and 500 yards in a game since Kyle Orton in 2004. He also becomes the first player since Drew Brees in 1998 to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games.

Moore, meanwhile, in 15 career games is ranked 15th in program history for reception touchdowns (14) and is tied for 18th in career receptions (138). His nine 100-yard receiving games are fourth-most in Purdue history.

The week two win came on the “Hammer Down Cancer” game. The program coupled the event by unveiling the new “T-Squared Student Gate” in honor of alumni Tyler Trent, who passed away this year due to a rare bone disease called Osteosarcoma.

September 7, 2019, was Trent’s 21st birthday.

Tyler Trent Student Gate Ceremony (Clinton Cole/DeepDishWL)

The Boilermakers will prepare for a TCU Horned Frogs program that is enjoying an off week after defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 39-7 last week. TCU will invade West Lafayette Saturday, September 14 with kickoff set for 7:30 pm Eastern.

2019 Purdue Football Season Preview

Mike Rankin-

Since taking the helm in 2017, Jeff Brohm and his coaching staff have taken the Purdue Boilermakers football program back to competitive relevance. Brohm boasted a 7-6 record in his first season and followed with a 6-7 campaign last year.

The 48-year-old head coach impressively led the Boilermakers to a 5-4 conference record in 2018, which was good for second place in the Big 10 West Division. The finish is the highest in program history dating back to the conference’s divisional realignment in 2013. It also marks as the first winning record in Big 10 play since 2006.

Fifth-year senior Elijah Sindelar is back at quarterback and will lead an offensive attack that features a Heisman Trophy candidate in sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore. Following former signal-caller David Blough’s graduation from the program, Sindelar, who suffered a torn left ACL in 2017 and also injured hyperextended the same knee earlier this spring, is presumably healthy.

Sindelar has been a part of Brohm’s system since its inception and will step into an offense that ranked only behind Iowa in the Big 10 West in scoring. Purdue’s 30.5 points per game average last season was the most since 2007, and their 443.9 yards of total offense per game was the program’s best since 2004.

Moore will again be the center of attention for the Boilermakers, as the consensus All-American led the Big 10 in total yards (1,258), touchdowns (12) and reeled in 114 receptions, which led all of college football and was also 12 more than the next best player in the category. Redshirt juniors Jared Sparks and Jackson Anthrop join Moore as returning receivers, but the Boilermakers will fill out the rest of their depth chart at the position with freshman. Newcomers David Bell, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, and Milton Wright are both ranked as four-star recruits by 24/7 Sports.

One position that is primed to take advantage of the attention Moore will command is the tight ends consisting of redshirt senior Brycen Hopkins and redshirt freshman Payne Durham. Hopkins averaged a team-high 17.1 yards per reception last season and brought in the second-most receptions (34) among returners.

The current running back class will be carried by underclassmen, as redshirt sophomore Alexander Hovarth is slated to begin the year as the starter. Hovarth will be backed up by freshman King Doerue and freshman Da’Joun Hewitt following what is said to be a “significant injury” suffered to fifth-year senior Tario Fuller during a scrimmage.

Fuller’s injury is accompanied by a standout returning player on the other side of the ball in Lorenzo Neal. There are limited updates available about Neal’s injury, but his status for the opener against Nevada will be up in the air until kickoff.

Neal hopes to be healthy for a 2019 Boilermakers unit that is coming off a difficult season. Defensively, Purdue ranked 11th of 14 in the conference at points allowed per game at an even 30.

However, nine starters are returning to the defense and the group will benefit from the addition of George Karlaftis, who is a five-star true freshman recruit on the defensive line. Purdue expects to bounce back after ranking second-worst in total defense in the conference.

The Boilermakers open their 2019 season on the road against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday, August 30. They then host three consecutive home games beginning with Vanderbilt on September 7, TCU September 14 and, following a bye week, kick-off conference play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 28.

On top of Minnesota, Purdue’s Big 10 opponents in 2019 consist of @Penn State, Maryland, @Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, @Northwestern, @Wisconsin, and Indiana. The Boilermakers are looking to reach three consecutive bowl games for the first time since the Joe Tiller era, where the program reached eight consecutively from 1997-2004.