Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar (2) is tackled after a run by Vanderbilt safety Dashaun Jerkins (33) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Purdue defeated Vanderbilt 42-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Assocaited Press TCU's Jalen Reagor (1) is tackled by Aransas-Pine Bluff's Taeyler Porter during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Fort Worth, Texas. (David Kent/Star-Telegram via AP)
Saturday, September 14, 2019 1:00 am
Boilermakers heading into matchup banged up
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
Purdue vs. TCU
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette
When: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Purdue (1-1) vs. TCU (1-0)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue was flying high after an explosive 42-24 win over Vanderbilt in Week 2.
Then came the injuries. First, quarterback Elijah Sindelar was diagnosed with a concussion, then top linebacker Markus Bailey suffered a knee injury in practice that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Throw in injuries to wide receiver Jared Sparks and tight end Brycen Hopkins, who combined for three touchdowns catches against the Commodores, and Purdue could look like a completely different team heading into Week 3.
The Boilermakers will take the field tonight against the TCU Horned Frogs at Ross-Ade Stadium. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the availability of key players such as Sindelar, Hopkins and Sparks, Purdue is not conceding anything before the game.
“That's the great thing about college football, it's the next man up,” cornerbacks coach Greg Brown said. “It's no different than when you've got an older guy and he graduates, then you've got a younger guy stepping up. 'Hey, next man up, let's see what you've got, it's your turn.'”
Among the injuries, only Bailey is certain not to play tonight. Sindelar, who leads the nation in passing yards and is tied for the lead in passing touchdowns, will be a game-time decision, though coach Jeff Brohm has expressed optimism that he'll play. If he can't, 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman Jack Plummer will see his first college action.
Sparks and Hopkins are listed as game-time decisions, as well. Sparks is unlikely to play, according to Brohm, while Hopkins' status is more uncertain.
“We have multiple guys that ... I won't know the availability until right up until game time,” Brohm said.
The Horned Frogs come to West Lafayette off a bye week and a 39-7 win over FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Week 1. They've won at least 11 games in three of the last five seasons, but went 7-6 in 2018.
On offense, TCU tries to spread out and use its quickness in space. The Horned Frogs play a pair of quarterbacks in Kansas State transfer Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan, a four-star recruit from Iowa. Those passers have some terrific receivers they can look for on the outside.
“They have elite speed and they're coached very, very well,” Brown said. “They've got wide receivers on the outside, (No.) 1 (junior Jalen Reagor) and 87 (fifth-year senior TreVontae Hights) can run, fast-twitch, catch the ball, make plays; I mean that's just second nature to them.
“It's just a tremendous challenge, the scheme that TCU runs, you have to be on your toes every snap of the game.”
Reagor is coming off a season in which he racked up more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns and has drawn some comparisons to Purdue's Rondale Moore, who leads the nation in yards receiving and receptions. The Boilermakers know Reagor is the man they have to stop, but they aren't convinced the comparison to Moore is apt.
“We all know they have a good receiver,” linebacker Simeon Smiley said.
“I wouldn't compare him (to Moore),” Smiley added. “I'm going to stick with Rondale.”
With so many injuries to key players this week, the Boilermakers might need Moore to turn in a special performance.