As he put it, “A 3-yard route could be a 70-yard [gain], so you have to tackle in space.”
That goes for all of TCU’s defenders. It’ll take a team effort by the Frogs to contain Moore when they head up to face the Boilermakers on Saturday in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Patterson has no intentions of using a defensive back to “shadow” Moore throughout the game.
“The only people I know where that works well at least is basketball -- box-and-1,” Patterson said. “Now does that mean that you don’t change your coverages based on where he’s at? But that’s a group effort, not a one-man effort.”
Moore lines up everywhere -- wide, slot, backfield -- which means a TCU defensive back would be playing out of position at times if they were assigned solely to Moore.
TCU’s best defensive back, cornerback Jeff Gladney, does not have many reps as a nickel corner so he likely wouldn’t be the best option when Moore lines up in the slot. That would also mean a backup corner is filling in for Gladney on the outside, or a safety is playing out of position in that scenario.
In other words, that’s not a formula for success as far as Patterson is concerned.
Oklahoma State tried to do that against TCU’s Jalen Reagor last season, and it backfired. The Frogs moved Reagor around to multiple spots in their 31-24 victory.
“I think a lot of big plays happened because they were worried about Reagor,” Patterson said. “You have to be careful about doing that on defense because it’s a team sport. You get to where … I’ve been where all we know about the center -- which way he’s going to step and when he’s going to snap it -- then the next week he comes out, you’ve put so much emphasis on it, and then they picked it up too and they changed it so he doesn’t do it anymore. So we put just enough knowledge into some things like that.
“At some point, everybody has to defend. That’s the whole key, that you have to defend. For us, you have to know where Rondale Moore is, but they’ve got some other good players.”
But Moore is a player who can change the game on one play. He earned All-America honors as a true freshman and is on an early pace for a 2,000-yard season this year.
Moore is coming off a game in which he had 220 yards receiving on 13 catches, the third-most receiving yards in Purdue history. He’s also an elite returner in the punting game.
“We’ve got to do a great job of covering,” Patterson said of his punting unit. “Field position in a game like this becomes a big deal.”
Patterson didn’t rule out the possibility of kicking away from Moore, depending on the circumstances.
At the end of the day, Patterson and TCU is approaching Moore much like they have any other explosive player in the past. Former Oklahoma receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown -- a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens -- was held to just 41 yards receiving on five catches against TCU last season.
Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace had just 64 yards receiving on four catches.
Only two players had 100-yard receiving games against TCU last season -- Texas’ Collin Johnson (seven catches for 124 yards) and Kansas’ Pooka Williams (seven catches for 102 yards).
“We’ve played some awfully good skill set people in this league,” Patterson said. “It’s not going to be the first time that we’ve played somebody that’s as mobile and athletic as what Rondale is. Now, he’s a really good player. I don’t mean that [as a slight] in any shape or form because he’s a really good player.
“You can tell he’s a really smart player, too. They do a lot of things with him, so he can learn and he can do things, and I think he’s highly competitive. Coaches all love watching guys that are good at what they do, whether they play for them or they play for somebody else. Admiration for guys that play the game the way that you want it to be played.”