WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue’s aerial act was on full display Saturday in its 42-24 home-opening romp over Vanderbilt
But nowhere to be seen was the Boilermakers’ run game.
That’s because there really isn’t one — yet.
Through two games, the Boilers (1-1) have amassed 1,059 yards of total offense — with just 127 coming from its ground game. It’s only produced 11 rushing first downs and one touchdown — a late 1-yard plunge by quarterback Elijah Sindelar against Vanderbilt.
Zander Horvath leads Purdue rushers with 81 yards on 27 carries, followed by Sindelar with 36 yards on 11 lugs.
Purdue has racked up 932 yards through the air to lead all of college football, with 36 first downs and nine TDs, thanks to Sindelar’s arm. He’s completed 63 of 104 passes (65.4 percent) against just three interceptions.
Purdue’s rushing game ranks 125th out of 130 teams nationally, while its passing game is third in the nation, behind Washington State (988) and Temple (507)
So why the wide imbalance?
“Well, you know, every team is different. Every year we’re going to do whatever we do the best,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “You’d like to have that balance. Whether we’ll have that, I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if that’s our strength. What you don’t want to do is beat your head into the wall and cause your team to lose because you think you have to do something just to have balance.”
Being one-dimensional can make it easy for an opponent to game plan the Boilers — and Brohm knows it.
“We will work hard at the running game, we will work hard to get better at it, and we understand that pressure has to come off the pass game a little bit,” he said. “But we have good receivers and we have a good quarterback who can throw it. That’s his strength.”
Sindelar doesn’t just have good receivers, he has the nation’s No. 1 pass-catcher in sophomore Rondale Moore.
Moore grabbed a career-high 13 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt to push his season total to 344 yards on 24 catches. He also added 51 yards on three kickoff returns and eight more yards on a pair of punt returns for 279 all-purpose yards against the Commodores.
The effort was enough to land him on Hornung Award Week 2 Honor Roll. Moore was the 2018 Hornung Award recipient, given to college football’s most versatile player.
“My view is pretty high of Rondale, so I don’t know if it can get much higher,” Brohm said. “But for someone to continually come through every week, raise the bar and not be satisfied with what he’s done, that’s Rondale Moore. We’re fortunate to have him on our team. He competes and wants to win. When we needed to make big plays in the passing game, he got open.”
Sindelar connected on 34 of 52 passes for 509 yards and the five scores against the Commodores. He was picked off once, but the performance elevated the fifth-year senior quarterback to a level not seen since Drew Brees threw for 400-plus yards in consecutive games in 1998. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
He also suffered a slight concussion against the Commodores. Brohm doesn’t yet know Sindelar’s status for the Saturday night home game against Texas Christian.
“He and quite a few guys got nicked up, and we’ll see how they heal up this week,” he said. “We’re hopeful that he and a lot of our guys will be ready to play. We’ll monitor and see how he passes all the tests and go through the proper protocol and hopefully get him back if he’s ready to go.”