TCU has a running game and a defense.
That much became clear in a 34-13 victory over Purdue on Saturday night at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The quarterback questions may have been answered, too, with true freshman Max Duggan taking all of the snaps in the second half over fifth-year senior Alex Delton. But neither quarterback received much help with a number of drops by receivers once again.
In the end, though, TCU is more than happy to take a road win over a Big Ten opponent to start 2-0.
“Anytime you come into somebody else’s place and get a chance to win; you know, our freshman gave up the last touchdown, but outside of that, I think we played pretty good,” coach Gary Patterson said. “So, on to SMU. That’s our goal: on to SMU.”
Credit the Frogs’ rushing attack, led by seniors Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua, and a defense that never let Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer get comfortable in his first college action.
Anderson and Olonilua provided a 1-2 punch that Purdue struggled to contain. Anderson finished with a career-high 179 yards rushing and two TDs, and Olonilua had 106 yards rushing and a TD.
“Darius is running better right now than I’ve seen him since he’s been a sophomore. We’ve got to keep him healthy,” Patterson said. “I was very proud of them and the offensive line. It was unbelievable.”
It was TCU’s first game with 300 or more yards rushing since a 31-9 win at Texas in 2016. It was also the Frogs’ first game with two 100-yard rushers since their 52-45 win at Kansas State in 2015, when Trevone Boykin ran for 124 yards and Aaron Green had 121.
As TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney described the rushing attack, “Two-headed monster. One’s speed, one’s power. You can’t stop them.”
Olonilua had TCU’s first explosive play of the night with a 12-yard run on a fourth-and-1 from the Purdue 39. That drive ended with a field goal to tie the game at 3 midway through the first quarter.
Anderson flashed on the next series with a 32-yard TD run to put TCU up 10-3. He went on to have runs of 18 and 27 yards later in the first half.
“Sky is the limit for us,” Anderson said of the rushing attack. “We both challenge each other to get better and fix our mistakes and get better. With us, we have great chemistry. We just cool with each other and telling each other to go run the ball.”
The running game allowed TCU to dominate the time of possession, 40:33 to 19:27. It also offset issues in the passing game.
TCU had 421 yards of total offense on the night but just 75 yards passing. Delton and Duggan combined to go 8 of 24 with one TD and one interception.
Delton threw the interception on the opening series, trying to force a ball to Dylan Thomas. TCU’s next drive ended in a punt, and Duggan took over for the next four series.
Delton led a field goal drive late in the first half, but Duggan played the entire second half. Delton finished just 1 of 6 passing for 5 yards.
Duggan went 7 of 18 for 70 yards and a TD.
“We’re still going to have two guys play,” Patterson said afterward. “They’re both going to play.”
Neither quarterback showed great accuracy, but the receivers didn’t do them many favors. There were a number of drops.
“We have to catch the football,” Patterson said. “If we are going to beat other teams, we are going to have to catch the football.”
As stated, the running backs and defense carried the team on the night.
The defense allowed just a pair of field goals in the first half and had a shutout going in the second half until Purdue scored a late TD. One of the field goals came after Purdue had a short field following Delton’s interception.
The other was a 53-yarder by Purdue’s J.D. Dellinger. And, late in the fourth quarter, Amad Anderson Jr. ran by TCU freshman cornerback Kee’yon Stewart for a 54-yard TD connection with Plummer.
Outside of that, TCU confused Plummer all night. He had the unenviable task of going against Patterson’s defense in his debut, filling in for injured senior Elijah Sindelar.
“Fresh meat,” Gladney joked about seeing a first-time quarterback. “We wanted their starter to play, sorry he couldn’t play, but a win’s a win.”
Frogs safety Trevon Moehrig made a nice play in the first quarter, ripping the ball away from Purdue’s standout receiver Rondale Moore for an interception.
TCU’s defense created another turnover in the second half on an interception by Gladney.
Purdue finished with 193 yards of total offense, with 75 coming on the late TD drive in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers had just six first downs and were 3 of 14 on third down.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of things, like you said Big 12 don’t play defense, but I think we came out here tonight and put on a show,” Moehrig said.
TCU returns home for its next game against SMU on Saturday.