Purdue embarrassed Missouri’s defense last year, as the Boilermakers put up 28 of their 35 points in the first half alone. They’re returning nine of 11 starters, and although the Boilermakers’ offense is an experienced group, a newcomer is making all the noise coming into their Week Three matchup with Missouri.
“[It] looks like he’s on fast forward,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Odom’s talking about Purdue true freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore. He announced his presence early in his college career, setting Purdue’s single-game all-purpose-yards record in the Boilermakers’ first game of the season against Northwestern. He had 313 all-purpose yards on 18 touches — 11 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown; two rushes for 79 yards and a touchdown (including this 76-yarder); and 125 kick return yards. Moore added a 53-yard run and three receptions against Eastern Michigan the following week.
Oh and by the way, he was born in the year 2000 and just turned 18 in June.
Moore was one of the more highly-regarded wide receivers in the Class of 2018, as the top-ranked Kentucky player was a four-star recruit and had offers from 33 Divison I colleges — including Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Missouri.
He’s a modern-day slot receiver that’s capable of using his speed (4.33 40-yard dash) to take over games through the air and on the ground. The Missouri defense will have to keep an eye on the freshman throughout Saturday’s contest. Luckily for the Tigers, it’s unknown who will be throwing passes Moore’s way.
Purdue hasn’t yet announced who will be their first-string quarterback against Missouri, as junior Elijah Sindelar and senior David Blough are fighting for the starting job. The two bring completely different games into play. Sindelar, the Week One starter, is a more pro-style pocket-passer, while Blough is fit for a more west-coast, run-and-gun offense.
Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters will have to prepare his defense for both styles of offenses, but it’s not like Purdue has Andrew Luck and Lamar Jackson to choose from.
Neither of the Boilermakers’ quarterbacks have been eye-popping thus far, but Blough — although in less reps — seems to have an edge on Sindelar coming into the third game of the season.
Blough has completed 18 of 26 passes (69.2 percent) for 122 yards in 2018. He doesn’t have a touchdown yet, but the junior also hasn’t registered an interception and has eight rushes for 36 yards.
Sindelar has had some accuracy troubles in what’s been a disappointing year so far. He’s completed just 26 of 44 passes (59.1 percent) for 283 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a trio of interceptions. Not an ideal start to the season.
While Purdue has two quarterbacks that split time in a not-so-good way, they also have a talented running back duo that splits time — much like Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III.
Seniors D.J. Knox and Markell Jones are a great mix of power and speed. Knox has rushed 29 times for 229 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, while Jones has rushed for 136 yards on 19 carries (7.2 yards per carry) and a receiving touchdown.
Their play adds another dimension to an experienced Boilermaker offense that, if they can figure out their quarterback situation, could be much harder to handle than most Missouri fans think.
The Tigers’ defense has enough speed around the edges and a stout enough front seven to where the running game of Knox, Jones and Moore shouldn’t be as much of a factor, and Purdue will be forced to beat Missouri through the air. If that’s the case, the Tigers will start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2015.