After week off, football looks to ‘leave no doubt’ at Purdue

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Linebacker Garrett Wallow is one of the key leaders for TCU this season. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

In the Four Sevens Meeting Room at Amon G. Carter Stadium, there is a pyramid that includes all of TCU football’s goals for the 2019 season. At the base of the pyramid is team building, and at the top is winning the national championship. 

The words “leave no doubt” are written in the section that includes Saturday’s matchup with Purdue.

The entire team signs the pyramid, symbolizing their commitment to the program. 

TCU is coming off of a bye week, which, as head coach Gary Patterson says, should actually be called a “get better week.”

“Bye weeks are always good,” linebacker Garrett Wallow said. “We don’t even call them a “bye” week, we called them a “get better” week.

The Horned Frogs have a perfect opportunity to “leave no doubt” this Saturday evening in West Lafayette, starting on the defensive side of the ball.

Just two weeks into the season, the Boilermakers have established themselves as one of the nation’s top offensive threats.  This steams from their standout duo of quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore.

Sindelar leads the FBS in passing yards (932), passing yards per game (466), passing touchdowns (nine, tied with two others), and total offense per game (484). The fifth-year senior from Princeton, Kentucky, was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week this week after throwing for 509 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-24 victory over Vanderbilt.

However, his current status is unknown. Sindelar was diagnosed with a concussion Monday and is listed as “uncertain” for Saturday.

“I hope their quarterback is okay,” Patterson said. “You always want to play the best.  That’s why you schedule the games.”

Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer would be up to bat for Purdue to replace Sindelar. Plummer has yet to throw a pass at the college level.

Regardless of who is throwing him the ball, Moore, one of the nation’s most electric playmakers, will be active on Saturday. Currently on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, Moore has made the most of his first two games this season. The sophomore leads the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (229.5), receiving yards (334), receiving yards per game (172) and receptions (24).

“You have to tackle,” Patterson said about playing against Moore. “In his case, a three-yard route could be a 70-yard [play].”

Clocking in at a 4.33 40-yard dash, Moore is a threat in the return game as well.  His ability to turn any play into a big one is a key part of Purdue’s early offensive success, and TCU will need to contain him if they want to have a chance on Saturday.

To do this, the Horned Frogs will look to rely on Wallow, who had a career performance in their season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  The junior was awarded Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors last week after recording a career-high 13 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, and a sack against the Lions.

“I just have to take on this week as I take on any other game,” Wallow said.  “You have to stay focused, [you] have to be physical against them and just play our TCU football.”

Patterson called Wallow “maybe the most valuable player of our team.”

In the secondary, look for senior Jeff Gladney, who runs a 4.34 40-yard dash himself, to be on Moore for most of the evening. Joining him at the other cornerback position will most likely be freshman Kee’yon Stewart, as starter Julius Lewis is doubtful with a knee injury.

In his first career game against UAPB, Stewart recorded two pass breakups and making it onto the PFF College Big 12 Defensive Team of the Week.

On the offensive side of the ball, Patterson said that quarterbacks Alex Delton and Max Duggan will trade series like they did in the opener.

Delton, the starter against the Lions, went 10-for-22 with 119 yards in his first action for the Horned Frogs, while Duggan went 16-for-23 with 165 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown.

Graduate transfer Alex Delton will most likely run on the field first as quarterback for TCU on Saturday. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

Though the TCU offense is highlighted by players like receiver Jalen Reagor and running backs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua, a pair of surprises arose in their offense against UAPB.

Wide receiver TreVontae Hights, a graduate student, exploded last Saturday with eight catches for 108 yards to be the game’s leading receiver. 

Hights entered the game with just six career receptions.

At running back, true freshman Darwin Barlow also stood out in the Frogs’ first action of the season. On his one and only drive of the game, the Newton High School product took eight carries for 45 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Patterson also said receiver Taye Barber, TCU’s second-leading receiver in 2018, may be available to play this week.

Coming off of a bye week into a game they are projected to lose against a Big 10 opponent, TCU could not have a better opportunity to “leave no doubt” this Saturday.  If they can slow Moore down and utilize their weapons on offense, the Horned Frogs will be able to come away with a victory in their first road game for the sixth-straight season. 

“They’re [Purdue] the next one,” left guard Cordel Iwuagwu said. “I look forward to the challenge.”

Kickoff against the Boilermakers is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.