Fort Worth loves railroads. The city and industry have been intrinsically linked since the booming cattle trade hauled thousands of head to be sold in the now historic Stockyards. Our Horned Frogs blow a souped-up train horn after every score, but TCU football wasn’t friendly to the trains at Purdue on Saturday.
Transfer senior quarterback Alex Delton (No. 16) took the first snap of this game and officially started. His first pass was off the mark and intercepted to award exceptional field position to the Boilermakers, who parlayed the miscue into an early three-point lead. Delton attempted three passes on the next drive but never connected. It seems head coach Gary Patterson and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie saw all they needed to unleash freshman QB Max Duggan (No. 15). I’m misleading you, though. I thought this game would be a bomb-fest against what had been a pedestrian Purdue secondary. It wasn’t. Horned Frog receivers under-performed all night. Dropped balls, poor routes, and missed opportunities plagued the unit. Fortunately for Frog fanatics, Jet (Darius Anderson, No. 6) and Jolt (Sewo Olonilua, No. 33) were more than willing to literally carry their team down the field, over and over.
Injuries limited Anderson during the latter part of last season, but he seems recouped and ready to rock. The senior annihilated the first and second level of the black and gold defense for 179 yards on only 16 carries with two touchdowns. The Jet, as Anderson is known, averaged more than 11 yards per carry and is currently sixth all time in yards per carry –– one place behind NFL HOFer LaDainian Tomlinson –– in TCU’s record book. The Jolt –– as I’m pushing for the 240-pound bruiser to be known –– shouldered most of the non-Anderson rushes and finished with 106 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. Reports state Olonilua is finished with institutional reprimands from his drug-related arrest over the summer. Fans of smashmouth football thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Purple bulldoze their way to 346 yards collectively on the ground. Duggan added a bullet of a touchdown to sophomore receiver Al’Dontre Davis (No. 80), who was so wide open he might as well have been lying on a therapist’s sofa. Despite the offensive ground-game success, Frog passers struggled. Duggan and Delton combined to complete a paltry eight of their 24 combined pass attempts for 75 yards, figures that need to improve drastically and hastily if Patterson hopes to compete against the Big 12’s top dogs.
Journalists and pundits, including myself, were convinced that Purdue receiver Rondale Moore (No. 4) would make a significant impact in this contest. Patterson’s defense was so stifling it was as if Moore didn’t even suit up. The stellar sophomore caught three passes for 25 yards, laughable compared with the more than 200 yards receiving he racked up in the previous week’s match-up with Vanderbilt. Horned Frog corners and safeties blanketed everything. Trevon Moehrig (No. 7), the sophomore safety, literally ripped a pass from Moore’s arms to notch his second interception of the season. Senior cornerback Jeff Gladney (No. 12) picked off Purdue quarterback Jack Pummer (No. 13), who struggled against the fastest defense he’ll face all season and attempted only 29 passes, far from the 50 he’d averaged over the previous two games. Rushing was repugnant for the Big 10 West squad. Ouch – 23 yards on 25 carries and a negative rushing total into the third quarter. The D wasn’t perfect. Plummer took advantage of a lost TCU cornerback late in the fourth quarter for a 54-yard TD to add to the two previously kicked field goals and break double digits on the scoreboard.
TCU kicker Jonathan Song (No. 46) nailed two field goals and four extra points, staying perfect for the season. Cumbie’s offense surrendered the ball only once and rectified their fumble-filled performance in their opening week by holding the rock tight. National attention is rolling in as Patterson’s boys squeaked into their first national ranking of the year at No. 25 in the AP poll this week. The Li’l Sebastians from Southern Methodist will roll down Interstate 30 on Saturday afternoon to try and reclaim the famed Iron Skillet for which the religious rivalry is named. The Mustangs are prancing from a three-game winning streak and dreaming of an upset. Keep dreaming, SMU