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Players of the Week: Frogs Boil Purdue

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It was a dominant performance from the Horned Frogs’ defense in West Lafayette.

TCUFootball at Purdue (9.14.19)
Jeff Gladney came to play Saturday night in West Lafayette, but he wasn’t alone.
Melissa Triebwasser

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

The TCU defense put on an absolute show Saturday night in Indiana, shutting down the explosive Purdue offense and rendering their star wide receiver negligent over the course of four quarters. Meanwhile, while the passing game struggled, the Frogs still managed to pass the 30 point mark by absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage, while the thunder and lightning combo of Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua refused to stop at contact.

There’s plenty of room to grow, but not a bad effort for game two.

Let’s give out some weekly awards for the effort, shall we?

The “How are You Going to Stop This Guy” Stopper: Jeff Gladney

Rondale Moore came into Saturday night’s game averaging 230 all-purpose yards per game. He had amassed over 330 yards receiving in two games leading up to the contest on 24 receptions.

Through a half, he had two catches for 12 yards, at the end of the game, that was three for 25 (on just four targets).

Gladney didn’t matchup one v one with Moore all game - this wasn’t a great corner on an island against a great wide receiver. But the secondary was able to slow the passing game of the Boilers so much because of the experience, communication, and attitude of Gladney, who set the tone early and kept his foot on the gas all four quarters. He had certainly heard the talk all week about how unstoppable Rondale was, but he was more than ready for the challenge. “[The talk gave me] a little bit of extra juice, but we face great receivers in the Big 12 every year. So it’s just one extra game.”

The Field Flipper: Jordy Sandy

Oh my, how much can we talk about Jordy Sandy? Because however much we do won’t be enough. Sandy pinned the Boilers inside the five yard twice (really three times, thanks to a penalty), and had a chance at a third if Innis Gaines could have gotten his balance. The Australian has been an absolute weapon for the Horned Frogs in 2019 - he averaged nearly 40 yards per punt Saturday night, placed three inside the 20, and on seven punts, Purdue had ZERO returns - despite having one of the best returners in the country lined up to do just that. With a defense as good as TCU’s (and a kicking game not known for converting long attempts), having a guy that can pin opponents in the shadow of their own goal line is a HUGE deal. Sandy appears to be that guy. And that’s great news for Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs.

The Quiet Assassin: Jalen Reagor

All week, all we heard about was how great Rondale Moore was and how TCU had never seen a guy like him - despite the fact that TCU has a guy just like him (maybe better!) on their own sidelines.

I would have loved Jalen Reagor to come out and have a statement game - one of those 120 yard, two touchdown, 80 return yard type nights. But that wasn’t the game plan, as TCU only attempted 24 passes and Reag was only targeted five times. The one time he really broke free, on a punt return, the touchdown was called back thanks to a penalty. But, the junior wide receiver still managed three catches for 29 yards, three rushes for 11, and eight yards on one punt return.

The numbers aren’t why I am choosing to recognize Reagor though, it’s his leadership. The Frogs had major QB issues a season ago, and the star suffered for it. Between Alex Delton and freshman Max Duggan, the passing game has been an issue through two games in 2019, too. While I think it will get better, props to Reag for not pouting, complaining, or looking like he’s not invested because he’s not getting opportunities. Instead, he is enjoying winning, celebrating with his teammates, and being patient with his quarterbacks - even when they miss him when he is wide open and ready to walk into the end zone.

Hopefully he finally gets to show out Saturday against SMU.

The Road Graders: TCU Offensive Line

Wow, what a difference a year makes. After being inconsistent and kind of a disaster a season ago, the now-veteran unit paved the way for a nearly 350 yard rushing day by the Horned Frogs, who saw both Darius Anderson (179) and Sewo Olonilua (109) go over the century mark - on just 34 touches. That’s a nearly 8.5 yard per cary average. With center Coy McMillon stabilizing the middle - despite making his first career start against a Power Five opponent - and guys like Lucas Niang and Anthony McKinney making it REALLY hard to get in the backfield, this unit has the potential to be elite. McMillon credits offensive line coach Chris Thomsen for helping shore things up, “Coach Thomsen is a great coach. He’s taught me everything I know at the offensive line position. I played tight end and defensive end in high school so it was a bit of a transition my first fall camp for sure, but after that coach Thomsen is a good coach. He’s done well.”

The Won’t Back Down of the Week: Thunder and Lightning

On that note, huge credit to senior running backs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. They had some huge holes to run through Saturday night, but time after time they bullied through the Purdue defense was extra yards and to find the first down marker. They ran by defenders, they ran over them, and they ran through them.

In other words, they dominated a Big Ten defense to the point that it felt like they weren’t even on the field.

And they did it all while sharing reps and rotating quarterbacks, with no ego and lots of humility. Darius Anderson was quick to point out the job that the hog-mollies in front of him did, saying “honestly, I give all the credit up front. Moving bodies. All the credit goes to them.” He also talked about how close he and Sewo are, and how he doesn’t mind coming off the field to let the big dog eat, even on a night when he’s cooking. “Sky is the limit for us. 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.”