Purdue University Football Media Conference
Monday, November 16, 2020
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Coach Jeff Brohm
COACH BROHM: We’re excited to get on the field this week. It’s a little bit of a shorter week. But we’ve had these before. So we’re going to have a good week of practice. Our guys are looking forward to preparing for an opponent that we haven’t played well at their stadium.
And it will be a good challenge for us to go up and play a very talented team that’s going to be very hungry. And I’m sure they’re going to work hard to find a way to win. And we’re going to have to find a way to do a better job and come out ready to play and figure out a way to win.
- Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the film, tell us what you’ve thought of Aidan O’Connell’s play.
COACH BROHM: I thought Aidan did a decent job. I don’t think it was one of his better games. But he made some throws when he had to. We need to do a better job with helping him and doing some things around him to take a little pressure off of him. But he was efficient.
But we just weren’t good in general as much as we needed to be. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to shore some things up and to be much more efficient at moving the ball. And Aidan is a part of that, and I’m sure he’ll work hard to improve as well.
- What are some of the things you can do to improve the running game Friday night?
COACH BROHM: Well, we’re going to work hard on it. I think we have a better plan even as today moving forward to make sure that we stay a little more committed and we use a wide arsenal of different type of plays to help our guys be able to block and move people off the ball. And we had some struggles last year in a few games where we were able to get a little bit better at it.
So we just — you know, I think we’ll have a good week of practice. We’ve already mapped out a lot of things we want to do and we’ll be very aggressive in using that attack to be more balanced and efficient.
- How come King Doerue only had one carry? Is he ready for a bigger role? How come he didn’t play more of a bigger role Saturday?
COACH BROHM: King’s been injured the whole time all season. So this really was the first game back. And even with that to say he was 100 percent, I wouldn’t go that far. But he’s close. And I think this week he’ll be much closer to getting there. But when guys aren’t able to practice, they’re not going to play well.
I think some of our guys are realizing that when you play good competition each and every week — I know injuries happen and I know sometimes we’ve got to make sure to take care of guys get them in the game. But if you’re not going to practice you’re not going to play well, so that’s a factor in a lot of decisions.
- Will we see Da’Joun Hewitt will or Tirek Murphy at all?
COACH BROHM: Both those guys are making progress. Tirek had been injured as well and he’s coming back from it. We think he has a bright future. But to throw him in there against a very good opponent, we’ll see and pick our spots.
I think Hewitt is another guy that’s on the verge.
The issue is Zander has been playing well. Zander has been able to carry the load and he’s done a good job.
So we’ve got to spell Zander more, but we want to make sure that when we’re doing that we still feel very good about the preparation time that all of our guys have had going into the game.
But, yes, that would be the best outcome is to get more guys involved in the running back position.
- You think you need to tighten the rotation on the offensive line and not play as many people?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think that’s probably tightened on its own. It wasn’t one of our better games up front. But we were facing a stout defensive front and we just weren’t able to move those guys very much and create holes and openings. And then of course I wasn’t as committed to it when that wasn’t happening early on as we need to be.
So it’s a combination of a lot of things. We’ll probably still try to get about eight guys in the rotation, but if it’s nine, it’s nine. And I think we have nine right now that have played that we’re going to be not reluctant to put in. But yes, I could see certain guys playing more as we get going throughout the season.
- George Karlaftis, I know he was dressed Saturday, anything you can speak to his presence this coming week and the ability to play?
COACH BROHM: Well, we’re hopeful that will happen. I think he worked extremely hard last week to even give himself a chance to dress. He’s way ahead of schedule, so we’re hopeful that he has a good week this week and we’re able to get him on.
- With the offensive line, when you went back and looked at the film, what were the major issues they were facing, other than obviously they were dealing with a very good defensive front? But what things did you need to see out of them to really give yourself a chance in the run game?
COACH BROHM: Like always on offense, every game’s new. And there were a few times, actually a lot of times where it was one guy not doing his job that cost you the play. That happens on offense. Eleven guys to execute, especially up front.
There were couple times that we really couldn’t create movement, and that was a problem. And there were some other times when we did. One guy didn’t do his job and it affected the play. So, it’s just a combination of a few things. Like I said, I think I probably got off the running game a little too soon. We were just being stalemated there early on. And I felt like we needed to be aggressive and score points.
And I think we’ll work hard this week to get better and we’ll do some different things to make sure that we have a base of what we’re doing but a plethora of things that we can do to help our O line play efficient and well.
- Do you need somebody in your ear sometimes say, hey, stick with the run? Or is that, how does that work from a play-calling standpoint?
COACH BROHM: Well, I just have to do a better job of it. We’ve got a lot of coaches. And they know that that’s kind of what I’ve been telling them all offseason and all season, that we’ve got to make sure we have a commitment to the run. But at the same time, when it gets to game time and things aren’t going you have to be able to adjust and do what works.
And so a lot of things can come up. You have to hang on to your experience, hang on to what you know what’s going on and feel for the game. But I feel confident that we’ll learn from this past game and we’ll get better. That’s what you’re going to have to do, just figure out ways to improve each week. Yes, we need to run the ball better. The stats speak for itself. But I need to make sure that I’m committed to it as well.
- You talked about Aidan’s performance, but what are one or two things he needs to take out of Saturday’s game, a lesson or so, that he can apply moving forward?
COACH BROHM: Well, Aidan is an accurate passer. We had some guys slip and fall on a few plays that cost us. We had a few times where maybe he was keyed in on one certain person maybe a little too much. He’s got to make sure that we’re spreading things out. He’s got to make sure that when things aren’t there, he did find the check down a few times, sometimes when that’s covered or that that guy has to block, you’ve got to run.
It’s something we tell him and all our quarterbacks every game is even without us calling a quarterback run throughout the course of calling pass plays, sometimes quite a few, you know, sometimes it’s going to be cover. Sometimes guys are going to fall. Sometimes guys are going to do something wrong. The pass protection will break down. You have to step up find ways to run get yards, even if it’s two or three that’s great.
And I think we go into every game telling our quarterbacks there’s going to be two or four times you’re going to have to run the ball on a pass play so just count on it.
And that needs to be in their head because I think on the fumble, definitely needed to tuck the ball away and run and get us some yards, whether it’s first, second or third down. And we didn’t do that and they knocked the ball out and it was a cause of fumble.
Just needs to be in our guys’ head that some of the quarterbacks are more athletic and they’ll run around and make plays. Others that feel better in the pocket still two to four times in the game you’ll have to step up and run and get yards.
- Three games in, do you feel good about where your defensive line is at, even minus (indiscernible)? Do they seem to get a little stronger as the game gets on or at least stay fresh as you get into the fourth quarter?
COACH BROHM: I think Lorenzo has done a great job. He’s gotten better each and every week. I think we’re able to rotate some guys at those positions which has helped. I feel like our inside linebackers have done a decent job. Our secondary has played better. It’s important that we don’t give up the big play or the easy play, and it’s important that we try to stop the run as well.
And I think third-and-long situations, I’d like to get off the field more than we have. And in the red zone we’ve got to tighten things up, not give up the easy touchdowns. But in general I think our defense is almost two deep at a lot of positions, at least guys that have played and can do an efficient job for us. And coach has done a good job rotating those guys in.
We’ve just got to continue to improve. Our defense gave us opportunities in the second half to get the ball back and drive down and score and tie up the game but we didn’t take advantage of it. I think it’s a combination of all of us tightening things up, getting better as we go on.
And I thought our special teams probably overall had its best game to date. That was an improvement. Just all three elements of the game have to find ways to improve. But Lorenzo stepping up and our D line has done a decent job at this point for sure.
- How is DaMarcus Mitchell? He came off the field a couple times limping. Do you feel good about his status for this week?
COACH BROHM: Yeah, I think he’ll be ready to play, yes.
- Just what you’ve gotten out of him the first three games, more than you expected or just as you expected?
COACH BROHM: No, I think DaMarcus has done more than we expected. The fact he’s a first-ear guy in our system. But he’s big and he’s strong. He’s athletic and he has a good knack of football.
And sometimes he may not do exactly what we ask him to do, but he has a knack to make the play. And he’s getting better each and every week at his discipline as far as being in the right spot at the right time. But he goes hard, he’s able to tackle. He’s a good athlete. He can tackle guys in space. He can play the ball. He’s done a very good job for us. He’s been a force for us on the edge there and we need him to continue to do his part and keep improving.
- What did you see out of Tyler Coyle in his first game?
COACH BROHM: I thought Tyler did some good things. You could tell he was a little rusty at first. But I think he plays hard. He likes football. He’s a great teammate. He’ll continue to get better.
- Are you using him or seeing him more as an outside linebacker than a safety or do you still want him to go back and forth?
COACH BROHM: No, he’s been a little bit more on the outside linebacker position for us, which is a combination of that and our nickel linebacker, so to speak.
He’s a good tackler. And he’s played a lot of football. And he knows Coach’s system. I think having him in there will help our football team.
- When you talked about Rondale Moore, you said as soon as he gets healthy he’ll be ready to go. I guess that assumes that he had some sort of injury at some point; is that fair to say?
COACH BROHM: Well, when he’s healthy we’ll put him on the field. We’re looking forward to that happening soon.
- Has he been involved in practice at all?
COACH BROHM: He’s done everything that we’ve asked and more and he’s worked hard to get back on the field. So we’re hopeful that will happen here soon.
- What have you seen out of this Minnesota team on tape? And what do you need to do to execute maybe a little better than you did on the offensive side of the ball against Northwestern coming up on Friday night?
COACH BROHM: I know Minnesota has won a lot of football games, had a great year last year. Probably not where they want to be at this point. There’s a lot of season left to play. And guys can turn around their season very fast.
This will be an away game for us going into an environment we haven’t played well at night. And they’re going to be hungry and ready to play. I know they’re working hard to improve and get better.
They’ll be well coached. They’ll be fired up to play us. We’re going to have our work cut out for us.
We’ve got to play efficient, effective football on offense and find ways to create some big plays, but at the same time be able to drive the ball down the field. Be able to do it a lot of different ways. And that has to happen.
Defense, we’ve got to continue to improve and be solid. In the last year they crushed us with the run-ass option and just crushed us. So we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s how they built their offense, hand it off to the running back over and over again. And then when you start to suck up a little too much they’re going to pull it out and throw it quickly to the receivers.
We’ve got to do a good job of that. That’s something that we’ve got to be prepared for and make sure that we don’t allow it to happen. And at the same time if special teams can gain an edge that will help us.
It will be a great challenge for us and a great test for us because we got our tails beat last week and our guys need to come out.
- Just from a defensive perspective Rashod Bateman is one of those guys, like David Bell, he can come out dominate a game. What do you do on defense or schematically to try to slow him down in their offense?
COACH BROHM: Well, he’s a tremendous talent, tremendous player. He’s made a lot of big plays. You’ve got to always account for where he’s at. And whatever defense you call you better make sure you have one guy walked out over him. And you better make sure there’s one guy over the top or one guy who’s keying over the top in certain situations.
So there’s a lot of different things can you do from doubling to bracketing to make sure you’re leverage is in conjunction with other guys on the defense when he does go the opposite way you’re playing them, there’s somebody there waiting for him.
He’s a guy you’ve got to account for. And I’m sure he opens up many things for other guys on their team. But at the same time their running back’s a very effective player and their quarterback played a lot of football. There’s a lot of things you’ve got to defend but without question Rashod and the running back are tremendous talents.
- Aidan threw the ball 50-plus times last week. I assume you probably don’t usually go into a game thinking we’re going to throw the ball 50 times. Just in terms of balance, where do you usually like to be at as far as the play-calling standpoint run and pass?
COACH BROHM: We don’t put a number on it but we want to have more balance than that. I think it’s important that we’re efficient in what we’re doing. We’re moving the football down and we’re scoring. We can’t allow the flow of the game to change that too much, but yet you’ve got to be aggressive in your attack and be able to adjust as well.
So you can’t be stagnant in making sure we hit these exact numbers every game. So we definitely would like to have more balance and we’re going to work hard to do that.
- Continuing with the quarterback, the next-man mentality has been big with this team this year. Does that extend to the quarterback position? Can we expect to see Austin or Jack out on Friday?
COACH BROHM: That extends to every position, and Jack and Austin will always be ready to play at any point we can stick them in. Without question, anything can happen. And as we prepare this week we’ll see where everybody’s at. But all three of those guys will be ready to play.
- Garrett Miller had his first career catch, first career touchdown. There’s been a lot of stress throwing to David Bell — he’s taken on a big role. Is there going to be more effort to spread the passing among receivers?
COACH BROHM: Yes, we want to make sure we spread it around to all of our guys. And there’s not a whole lot of plays, just send one or two guys out. There are options. We’ve got to make sure all of our guys understand whoever is open needs to get the ball.
And I think Garrett has really improved and worked hard, a very hard worker. Still a young player. I think the more he understands the game and what he’s doing, then he can play as fast as he looked when he caught the ball for the touchdown because he did a great job. He did exactly what we executed or taught on the play as far as blocking, blocking, blocking, and then releasing late and caught the ball, and ran to the corner of the end zone without breaking stride and ran fast.
He’s got a lot of promise. But the great thing about him is he works extremely hard. He gives whatever he can to help the team win. There’s no selfishness in his bones. He wants to do that every week. As he continues to progress you’ll see him get more and more passes thrown his way. But he’s done a very good job, and I think the more he plays, the better he’ll get.
- What got Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen on the field this weekend? Is he in your rotation now?
COACH BROHM: Abdur has been injured himself, and that’s one of the big reasons he hasn’t been on the field. When he’s healthy he’s done a very good job for us. He’s got great promise as a receiver.
So when guys aren’t able to practice and they’re just getting back, to think you’re going to step in there against a very good football team, especially in our conference, and just go out there play as a true freshman, it doesn’t happen a lot.
He’s got to work his way back in there. He’s got to continue to gain confidence that he’s fully ready, healthy, ready to play. And we’ve got to be strategic in how we use him.
But I think, in general, once he gets in a rhythm and feels good about where he’s at, he’s going to make a lot of plays for us, a lot of catches. He’s done a very good job.
He’s one of those guys that’s had some injuries and setbacks to this point and that’s really just affected why he’s not been on the field, otherwise he’d be on the field more.
- Do you expect to have Maliq Carr back anytime soon?
COACH BROHM: We’re working hard on Maliq as well. He had a very good fall camp I guess fear, plays hard. Can do a lot of things for us. Still has some rawness as well. But we feel great about his future. And once again, when you miss practice time — this isn’t high school. Probably the best player on the team. You’ve got to practice, if you want to get on the field and do some good things.
And the ones that weren’t able to do that, put them on the field without enough practice time, they normally don’t play well. That normally affects the (indiscernible) and it affects the play of the team. We’re hopeful to get him back, like some of the others, but we’ll see how this week progresses.
- Do you anticipate an increased role for Jackson Anthrop after he got on the field last week?
COACH BROHM: Yes, we do. Jackson had shoulder surgery and really he shouldn’t even be back by now, but he worked extremely hard to get back. He just got cleared fully by the doctor a day or two before the game. So we didn’t want to overdo it.
And once again, with that shoulder, he had not been hit and hadn’t done a whole lot in practice. We were able to put him out there with an orange jersey, do a little bit. But for him he has played a lot of football. We felt a little bit better about putting him in with limited practice time. So I think he came out of the game feeling good. So we’ll continue to work him this week, and like always we can count on him to do exactly what we ask as hard as he can; and yes, he’ll have a very good role in this offense.
- When you looked at Saturday’s game, you had 11 tackles for loss but no sacks. How did you view that kind of play out? Did you feel like you guys had more opportunities to get sacks and couldn’t get to Ramsey, or kind of your view of how that happened Saturday?
COACH BROHM: Well, getting that many tackles for loss is a great thing. So we were happy to do that. I thought that was a huge plus for us. Ramsey is an athletic quarterback, moves around well. He buys time. We tried to mix things up a little bit. There were some times where maybe we had a three-man rush and we didn’t sack him. And obviously we’d like to get a few more sacks. But it’s important to stop drives, get off the field on third down and eliminate big plays and points. And you’ve got to balance that out.
In a perfect world we hold them to zero points, get a ton of sacks, get turnovers, all those things will happen. But there were some positives we took out of the defensive play. And the tackles for loss were big. We’ll continue to work on every aspect of playing defense. But I like what I’ve seen to this point, but we’ve got to continue to improve and get better and learn from each game so we can go out in the next game play better.
- Are you feeling confident in the coverage aspect of your defense that you feel good about rushing three knowing what you’re doing in the back half?
COACH BROHM: Well, there’s always a little give and take. When you rush three, you should be able to cover better. You’ve got more guys back there and it’s harder for the quarterback. The downside is the quarterback can buy time and allow those guys extra time to get open and there might be a few holes.
You’ve got to balance that out. You’ve got to make sure that if you’re doing that you’re not doing it too much and that it’s working and effective. But I think we’ve done a good job of not letting the ball get thrown over our head. We did get beat on a fade route, a little double move that we’d like to get more in front of our guy and get our hands on them which we weren’t as aggressive at corner getting our hand on them. Then we had a couple of plays in the red zone we like to defend better that were touchdowns that I think we can.
So we’ve just got to improve on those things and make them earn all their yards and find ways to get a few turnovers here and there.
- Is Will Bramel okay? And you guys using two guys to kick off now, huh?
COACH BROHM: Well, Will has had some issues and there’s multiple reasons why he was not able to get in. But you can read the writing on the wall there. He’s worked hard to get healthy, but there’s stages where he’s at. And J.D. has done a very good job. We changed up the kickoff once or twice, and once we kicked it out of the end zone. The other time wasn’t where we wanted it.
And from there J.D. came back in. Like always, we want to have competition at every position, but J.D. has the most experience. He’s done a very good job for us, extra points, field goals, kickoffs. He’s improved as well. Last year really was where the improvement showed. He was able to kick the balls in the end zone. But I think we have backup behind him that J.D. if is not able to play or something happens and now has a little game experience and will be able to fill in do a good job.