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Purdue University Football COACH Jeff Brohm Media Conference 09.02.19

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Purdue University Football Media Conference

Monday September 2, 2019

Jeff Brohm

Press Conference

JEFF BROHM: Vanderbilt is going to have good athletes, they’re going to be big and physical. Coach Mason does a great job coaching up on the defensive side of the ball. Their offense has the ability as well to break through and score points. We have our work cut out for us.

We have to get back to working extremely hard, trying to improve on all the things we’ve made mistakes on, put this game behind us and move forward to the next one.

It’s important that we always approach each week as a one-game season. We have a tough opponent coming into our home and we need to take a lot of pride in working hard this week and getting ready to play.


Q. Aside from just playing hard for 60 minutes, finishing, personnel-wise, what are some of your biggest concerns coming out of the game?
JEFF BROHM: I think when you look at the game, on the offensive side of the ball, we moved the ball pretty well and had some yards. We weren’t great in the running game. I don’t know if we’re going to be great at the point of attack at some positions, but we’ve got to get better at that. We have to establish that, take a little bit of pressure off the passing game.

I think Elijah played extremely well unlit late in the game. Of course, the turnovers are what killed us. Two throws he just shouldn’t make. Third-and-10, escaping the pocket, you have to go underneath, trying to move the chains, see if we can pick up some positive yardage to have a possible chance at a field goal.

The disappointing thing is he did a lot of really good things, but the two interceptions were really bad decisions. Those things can’t happen.

I think on the defensive side of the ball, for two and a half almost three quarters we played pretty good football. Complete bust in coverage on the first touchdown, let the guy run wide open, which is disappointing. They threw a contested fade for the second touchdown.

Really the game is 31-14. They’re punting to us. We have a turnover that gets them the ball back where we could easily have taken that ball and tried to have done something with it, possibly close the game, put an even more differential point margin. The tide swing from there.

We didn’t get stops in the fourth quarter. The pass-rushing lanes were too big. The ability to scramble up the middle and buy time, was disappointing to see that. We had a few more busts in coverage in the secondary and with our linebackers in the fourth quarter.

Really not to get a stop in the last three possessions, they had the ball, they scored points, was very disappointing to see. There’s a lot of work to be done. We have to fix the mistakes we made and be men about it. As coaches, with myself on down, we’ve got to coach better and make sure that we can get our guys to play efficient, hard-nosed football the entire game.

Q. Holt in the press box, did that have any impact on the defense? What is his position for the next game, on the field or in the box?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think, like I said, for two and a half quarters we played pretty good, then the fourth quarter was a collapse that we need to get fixed. I think identifying those problems is what we’re getting ready to do, fixing those. We’re going to go about getting that done.

Q. No comment on where Holt is going to be?
JEFF BROHM: He’ll be right up where he was the next time.

Q. Will Lorenzo Neal be available?
JEFF BROHM: That’s very doubtful.

Q. Any other injuries of note that are going to keep personnel out of this game?
JEFF BROHM: Right now nothing at the top of my head. We had a few guys with some nicks and bruises, we’ll see how they bounce back come Tuesday.

Q. Do you think we’ll see the runningbacks working the mix more, will Zander Horvath and King get more carries this week?
JEFF BROHM: I think Zander did some good things. Wasn’t as sharp in protection as we’d like him to be. A couple of times running the ball, bounced the ball out when there were some holes he should have followed in.

King will be a very good player. All true freshmen are going to have some mistakes. Takes a while to get adjusted. We would like to get King a few carries in the game. I think he can do some things for us. To ask him to be able to do a whole lot I think is a little unfair to him.

We have to make sure we manage what we give him, we’re on top of that. But I do think he needs to touch the football.

The depth there is young, but they need to start to get on the field and play some.

Q. On Nick Holt, your reasoning for putting him up in the box?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think looking at the way we finished last year was not the way we wanted to finish. I think from a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator standpoint, I know for myself, if I wasn’t the head coach, I would be up in the booth. You can see the field, what’s going on, identify things. In between series, you can have your notes and your sheets right in front of you.

It’s much easier to call a game, in my opinion, upstairs just from a sight standpoint, ability to see personnel, match the teams coming in, realize mistakes.

I thought we needed to make sure we were on top of that and had good vision, have everything in front of him so he can see things and be aware of exactly what’s going on due to the sight line.

For me, calling plays on the sideline, it’s more of a feel thing. It is beneficial to be able to see the field and know what’s going on.

Q. Any chance the defense missed his leadership in the fourth quarter on the sideline?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I mean, I think we missed a lot of things in the fourth quarter. You can blame it on a lot of things. We didn’t function the way we wanted to. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things that happened. We need to get it fixed.

I think watching the film and getting a feel of what exactly happened, which we did, being able to get stops, get in the right call, execute the right call, is extremely important.

Q. You mentioned the rush lanes defensively were too wide and left the middle of the field open. Is that a defensive line bust or is that people in the back half not coming up to fill some of those gaps?
JEFF BROHM: Well, it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think early on the three-man rush had some benefits. I think towards the end of the game they got used to it. The quarterback knew he could buy some time, step up in the pocket, allow those guys to get open. If they weren’t, he had had some lanes to run, and he took advantage of it.

From a coaching standpoint making sure we’re rushing four, making sure we’re blitzing throughout the game five and six guys, affecting the quarterback and his ability to not be able to stand in there and hold the ball a long time would help it.

At the same time we’ve got to execute what’s called. When we are rushing four, our tackles need to stay in their lanes, which did not happen a few times. When we’re rushing three, we have to make sure we don’t run past the quarterback on the ends every time. Occasionally we’ve got to plug in some backers, do some things to affect the quarterback.

I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. You can always look back and maybe we could have done that better or that better, which is the case. But it’s a combination of a lot of things. We’ve got to coach better, play better, execute better. We’ve got to get stops when the game’s on the line.

Q. Kenneth Major didn’t finish the game. He went out there late. Is he okay for this week?
JEFF BROHM: We’ll see on Tuesday. Hopeful that he will be.

Q. You had guys in there late in the fourth quarter from a defensive line perspective. Do you want to get guys in there earlier? You had Branson Deen, Kai Higgins, and Giovanni didn’t play until late in the game or fourth quarter. Do you want that to happen earlier or are you happy with how things rotated there?
JEFF BROHM: When I look back on both sides of the ball, definitely on the defensive line, even at linebacker a little bit, we need to rotate our guys and play more, make sure that we’re fresh in the fourth quarter.

What sometimes happens is you get in a thing where you think you’re playing well, things are going well, you don’t want to change it up either. I think that probably happened a little bit with us where early on we were playing well, we were getting stops, we were doing a very good job on defense. You don’t want to disrupt what’s going on.

You have to be able to balance those two as much as you can. That’s probably why the rotation wasn’t as much as we probably wanted going in because things were going well, the defense was playing well really, like I said, two and a half quarters until, other than the one bust in the coverage.

It gets to a point where you’re trying to hold on, you want to play guys that have been in there. In general, yes, we would like to rotate more on the defensive line, make sure that we have the ability to play more guys is always the goal. But in every game, little tougher to get that done. We have to make sure we work hard to get that done.

Q. As you assess what happened in the fourth quarter offensively, what stood out or what didn’t happen that needed to happen?
JEFF BROHM: Well, to me in general, if you have five turnovers and the other team has zero, you’re going to have a hard time winning. That exactly is bottom line what happened. We had five turnovers, two in special teams, three on offense. The other team had zero. We got zero turnovers. That’s hard to overcome against anybody you play. That was a big difference.

Second half, we had two interceptions that we shouldn’t have thrown that stopped some drives. Special teams, we had two turnovers. That hurt us because we had some stops, were getting the ball back. We don’t get the ball back. That really had a big effect on the course of the game.

Then in the fourth quarter, you’re trying to use the clock a little bit, but continue to move the ball. You want to make sure you don’t turn it over any more.

Looking back, probably the fourth quarter, yes, we could be more aggressive, take some more chances. So, yes, that’s the nemesis. You come out of there, you lose. Shoot, we’re going have to be firing all bullets for four quarters, taking shots, throwing the ball around the field. That’s great. We want to do that. That is a lot of pressure on the passing game. We threw it 54 times. To throw it that much more…

It’s got to be balanced. But, yes, we do want to err on the side of being aggressive. I think in the fourth quarter, looking back on the outcome, we were not aggressive enough.

Q. How did you evaluate the offensive line?
JEFF BROHM: Our offensive line for the most part did a good job. We had one really sack. That was on the quarterback holding the ball too long. When he moved to the left, had an open guy on the left, looking for Rondale, he could have gotten the ball out of his hand.

The run game, certain spots we didn’t knock people back very much. We had some penetration. Towards the end of the game they started to come after us a little bit more. We struggled at certain spots that were young guys that hadn’t played a whole lot.

In general, they played good enough for us to win. They need to continue to get better. I thought that for the first game, the five we played gave us good effort, executed at a decent level.

While there’s plenty of room for improvement, we just got to work hard at getting better. We’re going to face much better defenses throughout the course of the season, so we’re going to have to be ready for the challenge.

Q. How do you avoid not having two No. 4s on the field?
JEFF BROHM: We’re going to get that fixed. We had talked about it before the game. We had a couple jerseys ready to go on. Really in that situation, when the quarterback is the punter, that’s where the confusion came in.

Really Marvin is only in our dime package, he’s not in any of the punt packages we had. We didn’t call dime very much in the game. When we did, he was out there. We tried to stick the punt returner in at the last minute. That’s on us as coaches. We’ll get that fixed.

Q. When did you discover Carollo’s punting skills?
JEFF BROHM: Danny is a good athlete. Throughout the course of the summer, he could punt the ball. We gave him a chance in camp. He’s done a good job with it. He went out there, executed, did a very good job. I was happy for him that he was able to contribute like that.

Q. When you look at Vanderbilt, an experienced quarterback in Neal, the tight end and some good receivers, what concerns you about their offense coming up on Saturday?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think they have experience. They have some good players. When you play Georgia first game of the year, that’s a tough task. They’re used to playing great competition.

When you have a quarterback who has that type of experience, it’s a huge plus. I think they’re going to be big and physical. Always try to run the football, open it up when they have to, not beat themselves, let their defense keep them in games as well. They’ve had success. They’ve gone to two bowl games in a row, which is very hard to do in that conference. They’ve played some good football.

I know they’ll be ready to play. I know they’ll be well-coached. I know that they have some experience on that side of the ball that we’ve got to contain. We have to be much more physical on defense this week than we ever have been.

Q. What is your message to your team? How do you handle what happened last Friday night? Is it positive message? Is it fire and brimstone?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think our players and coaches understand we’ve got to do a much better job. That has been communicated and talked about. All you can do after every game is go back and identify the things that happened, that you did wrong, that everyone is man enough to admit the mistakes we made as coaches and players.

You talk about it, communicate about it, go out and correct it. For us it was yesterday, on Sunday. You make sure they understand what needs to be fixed. As we talked about, having five turnovers to zero, you’re not going to win games. We’re going to have to fight and scrap to win the turnover battle. But when you’re down five in one game, good luck.

That has to happen. We’ve got to do the small things. When we found a way to win last year, we won the turnover battle, we took care of the football, we played hard-nosed, much smarter, more efficient throughout the entire game. That helped us win against very good opponents.

This year we’re going to have our hands full again. We have to figure out a way to do the same thing. That’s something that has to be practiced, has to be communicated. Everybody has to do their part. There can’t be lapses.

I think we have to lead. We had people take too many deep breaths and relax. That can’t happen. Has to be everybody in it the entire game for a four full quarters with everything they’ve got with no letdown no matter what the score. If we do happen to get a lead, we have to put a dagger in somebody and put our foot on the gas and get it done.

A lot of things need to be better. We understand that. But at the same time you have to work hard to get it done. You have to come back to work with the attitude that you’re going to figure out a way and that you don’t want to have that feeling again.

By the end of the week, you have to get your confidence back up so when you take the field, you believe you can win. You can’t allow one loss to affect the next game even though you have to identify things and improve. You’ve got to get yourself over that and ready to get your mojo ready for the next game. That’s what we have to do because we have a great opponent coming in.

Q. Were you given an explanation on the ruling on the incompletion there late in the fourth quarter, almost dual possession for second?
JEFF BROHM: No, I did not. I thought we got the pass off, but I did not get an explanation.

Q. How did Jalen Graham do?
JEFF BROHM: Jalen did a very good job for a first game. He got a little nicked up during the game that he played through. I think he’s a very tough, hard-nosed football player that continued to get better. We’re excited to see him improve.

I thought for a first game for a true freshman playing basically the entire game, he did a good job.

Q. How did George Karlaftis go?
JEFF BROHM: I think George did a great job, gave us great effort. Fought his butt off the entire game. If we can get everybody to play with that effort every single play, we’ll have a much better chance of winning.

We probably need to do some better things to give him a chance to get to the quarterback instead of just rushing around the edge. We need to mix in some games and stunts and things that give him the ability to rush in different ways. I think that will help him.

But as far as playing hard, giving great effort, competing the entire game, he did an outstanding job.

Q. You had a lot of success in the first half getting the ball Rondale and Bryson. Did they change anything in the second half that it was harder to get the ball in the fourth?
JEFF BROHM: Bryson was in and out of the game with some throwing up and some stomach issues. We tried to hit him up the seam a couple more times. They did start to mix their coverages up a little bit more. They tried to disguise. They lined up a guy on Rondale a little bit more. They lined up a guy on the tight end a little bit more as we got going in the second half. They mixed things up, stunted and blitzed a little bit more. They did a much better job on defense. We were probably too conservative in the fourth quarter.

Q. Overall the freshmen that played, how would you evaluate how they held up in their first game?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think we’re excited about all the true freshmen we got in the game. I think they have a bright future. The time is right now. They need to understand that we have to work hard to get them feeling confident and contributing.

But to be able to put that many out there the first game, I had not done that really ever before as much. But we need them. They’re going to have to learn fast, just continue to work hard, get their confidence up when they take the field.

But I think that some of the guys have a very bright future here. It’s just a matter of them gaining that confidence throughout the year.

Q. I guess was the plan to have all offensive linemen play 82 snaps? Why do you think you were unable to get some other offensive linemen in the game?
JEFF BROHM: I think early on when things are going well, the line is doing an efficient job, you’re moving the football, as a coach you sometimes say, Let’s stick with the hot hand.

We would love for five guys to be able to play and be very good. I just think we’ve had some competition that we didn’t know how some would hold up. We had to have guys ready to go in. I think if guys would have struggled early on, we would have substituted much faster.

That goes back to you need to be committed fully to have a rotation no matter how things are going or having guys ready, and if things are going good, you kind of hold off. Whether it’s a backup quarterback that we sometimes used to play in every game, sometimes when the games are going well, we said, We’re going to have a hot hand.

I think we felt early on those five that we thought were our best after coming through camp were playing at a decent level and we wanted to just continue to let them play.

Q. Why did you keep calling design and run plays for quarterback Elijah?
JEFF BROHM: This year we do want to at least have a threat. I think it’s important there’s at least a threat of the quarterback running the football.

Really we got some good gains on the quarterback runs we called. Wasn’t much more than a quarterback draw with a lead blocker. When you sometimes get on that, in the running game their linebackers plugged the holes quick, and it came downhill. You have to be able to meet them in the hole and knock them back, not just meet them in the hole.

What we were getting with the quarterback draw, the linebackers were dropping, we were getting much more space to run. We told Elijah, You run as hard as you can, get down to the last minute, but don’t not run hard because that’s when you do get hurt.

I thought he did a very good job of getting us yards, created space. There were some good plays for us.

Q. Down the stretch you said you wanted to be more aggressive. The pass-to-run ratio play calling-wise is what we can expect moving forward? Were you happy with where you were at?
JEFF BROHM: In general, you’d like to be as balanced as you can, have a consistent running game. Even looking back on last year, if the running game is not your strength, you need to score, you don’t want to waste a whole lot of time doing things you’re not best at.

Early on we had some success in the passing game, the quick little throw, sometimes we used the perimeter throws at our run plays. We were able to score points.

But, yes, we had some run-pass calls that we threw the ball on quite a bit because they were giving us easy throws on the outside. In general, we’d like to be more consistent in the running game, take a little more pressure off the passing game. If we err, we want to err on giving us a chance to win by being aggressive throwing the football.

I do think Elijah sometimes gets in a better rhythm when we throw the ball a little bit more.

Q. As far as Vanderbilt, game one they played Georgia, a great program. What have you seen out of them? What’s impressive to you about their team as a whole?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I’ve played them before at the last place I was at. In general, you’re always going to get a very good defense. Coach Mason does a good job with that side of the ball. Big, physical, play a good style of football, good brand, kind of a Stanford brand of defense. He’s always going to do a very good job.

They played a very talented Georgia team. After the first two series, they held them pretty good in check. Offensively they had their hands full going against the Georgia defense. But they have good, talented players, some experience. Their competition they play every week is very, very good. Top of the line.

I know they’re going to be licking their chops to come in and get us. We have to make sure we’re ready to play. It’s going to be hopefully a great football game where our team hopefully can step up and answer the call.

But it will a game where we’re going to have to do the small things in order to win. We’re going to have to win the turnover battle, win on special teams, we’re going to have to be able to make plays when we have to, get stops when we need to.