Purdue University Football Media Conference
Monday August 26, 2019
JEFF BROHM: We’re excited to get this season underway. I think our guys have worked hard in the off-season. They’ve worked hard this fall camp. They’re ready to get to game one, just like everyone across the country. Football season is upon us. We’re ready to get this thing started.
I do think we’re playing a very good opponent in Nevada, who had an outstanding year last year. They’re coached very well by Coach Norvell. Big wins. Beat Oregon State, who was up 31-7 early in the second quarter. Beat Hawaii. Won their bowl game against Arkansas State, then had tough games against Boise State, Fresno State, but they were right in the game. I think this team knows how to win, they play well, have good players. This will be a great test for us to go on the road, see where we stack up. I know we have a young football team. We’ve been trying to gain experience as fast as we can this fall camp, practices, scrimmages, go out there, prepare to take the field, compete. That’s what we want to see come Friday night.
Q. I know your stance on scheduling. What can you take out of the logistics?
JEFF BROHM: This is an important road game for us, going across the country, playing on the west side, Friday night. First game of the year will be a test. We have to make sure we’re a mature football team when we take the field, we don’t beat ourselves, find ways to play to the best of our capability. Whatever the score is at the end, we’ll take that.
Last year we have got off to a rough start, finished the season the way we didn’t want to. We have a lot to prove and are excited to get the first game out of the way.
Q. (Question about Lorenzo.)
JEFF BROHM: Still a work in progress. For me to gauge exactly when that is going to happen, I’m not sure. We’re hopeful he’ll get back as soon as he can.
Q. What has Lawrence Johnson done to get the spot?
JEFF BROHM: He’s done a good job. I think he’s gotten better. He’s gotten in better condition. He’s dropped weight. He’s got a lot of repetitions. I think he wants to play well. He loves football, wants to compete, wants to represent Purdue in the best way we can.
We’re excited to get him on the field. We have multiple guys on the defensive line that are going to be able to rotate in and compete. The ones stack up, play the most, are going to be the ones that play the best.
Still an open competition. Lawrence is definitely making good strides. See how he competes on game days. Showing us good things in practice, but has to make sure he becomes more consistent and disruptive on everything he does.
Q. Are you using Cory?
JEFF BROHM: Cory has been playing both safety and corner for us. He has been moved to corner a little bit more. Seeing if he can grasp that. He’s a tall, athletic young man who I think is going to see the playing field. We’re trying to find a spot for him. The position is new to him. Sometimes you have to isolate one guy on one guy, a little less to learn. We’re hopeful he can pick things up and play well.
Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: Well, like everyone, I think he was a great player. We were all excited to watch him play. He had a tremendous career. We definitely didn’t want it to come to an end.
Each and every person knows their body, what they’ve been through. You want someone who is as intelligent as him to make the right decision for him and his family. I think that’s what he’s done.
Q. Talk about going out a day early, being acclimated.
JEFF BROHM: That’s the reason we are going out a day early, the night before, to get adjusted to the timing change and also get adjusted to the air, the altitude. We’ll be able to hopefully get that done on Thursday when we’re out there. We’ll go and have a light practice, jog around, move around a little bit, see how we adjust. Come Friday night, whether there’s heat adjustments or altitude adjustments or sleep adjustments, we want to make sure we’re fully prepared for the game on Friday.
Q. Last year’s first game, the interception. Elijah, talk about his progress from that point up till now. What do you think he’s gotten better at?
JEFF BROHM: I think Elijah wants to be a great quarterback here for Purdue. We’re looking forward to watching him play this year. I think he understands he’s done some very good things here and a few things he has to work on. The things to work on: Interceptions, ball security, take care of the football.
I do think he has made strides in camp. Understands he has to make more. I think this past week has been his best week as far as not turning it over, making sure he hones down and concentrates on throwing it to our team, buying time in the pocket, finding the outlet, running occasionally, not chucking it up deep when things aren’t open.
He’s played some really good football. We have to do our job to put him in the best position for success. He has to take the reins and run with it. I’m hopeful he plays at a high level.
Q. Talk about things that have developed on defense.
JEFF BROHM: I think our defense has made strides. I’m looking forward to seeing them get on the field. Does that mean we’re at where we need to be? No, we’re not. I think the ability to get to the pass-rusher, create penetration and disruption is more visible. It’s very important for us to get done.
I do think he gives us some experience on the secondary, Ken Major is in the group. I think our linebackers can be a solid group for us. Played a lot of football. I think it’s all about making the quarterback feel uncomfortable, getting penetration, finding ways to get to the quarterback repeatedly. That’s been our goal this spring. We’ve worked hard at it. I am hopeful come game one, we’re going to be able to do some of those things.
Q. What the defense has done at camp, how do your feelings go from the 2017 season, when you were pretty high on what that group accomplished?
JEFF BROHM: I actually think 2017 we had some very, very good football players. I don’t know if we’re at that level right now. I think we had some solid seniors that play a lot of football, been through a lot, that were very good football players that maybe didn’t show because of the win/loss record. Definitely helped us get to seven wins that first year, without a question. That was the strength of our football team.
This year there’s a little bit more youth to it, mixed in with a couple experienced guys. I think in order for us to win in general, our defense has to play better. Our offense has to find ways to get explosive plays, not turn the ball over, eliminate negative plays. Special teams… All those things have to happen. It’s not all the defense by any means.
I do think we can play better and do some good things on that side of the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these guys play, perform under the lights.
Q. With your offensive line, based on what we saw when we were able to watch practices, you settled on this group kind of early, in the first week or so. What do you like about them? Why is this the starting group you want to go into battle with?
JEFF BROHM: I think our offensive line has worked hard. It’s never going to be a finished product, especially when we have a lot of inexperience, can’t get down on them, had some struggles. I think it’s important they struggle some in camp. We want to get better by game one. We have to play confidently.
Hopefully we’re working towards that. We got to do a few things to take care of the ball. That’s on every offensive line. I think the starting five you see on the field, I anticipate them playing well. That doesn’t mean it will be perfect. I think they’ll play hard, I think they’ll compete. We’ll rotate guys in there. There will be a competition. I think each and every one of them knows there’s separation between four and five, nine and ten. We’re going to make sure that all are ready to go, onboard.
I think all of them have improved. It’s just a matter of playing together as a unit, playing confident come game one.
Q. By moving Cory to cornerback, obviously you’re comfortable with Jalen Graham at safety. The progress of Marvin Grant, the way he’s come on…
JEFF BROHM: I think Navon Mosley is the most experienced safety. We feel best about him in the back end. I think Jalen Graham is a very good young prospect. Hopefully doesn’t make a lot of mistakes early on. I don’t think he will. He’s still young. He has to go out and prove himself. Till we see him on the game field, we may adjust that. I think he’s worked extremely hard.
In the secondary, try to get better. We moved some things around. I think you’ll see Brennan Thieneman at the safety position. He has experience for us. Marvin Grant is the next one up. He is very bright, very athletic. I think he’ll be good. Mentally he has to continue to get better. That’s where you have to be careful the first two games of the year, of giving true freshman too much on their plate. They can damage a little bit if they don’t play as well as they want because they’re not mentally ready.
We have to make sure we police that. But probably see him on the field. Want to make sure that we play our experience, as well, make sure that we play to win, play the guys that we feel comfortable with.
Q. You’re limited in the number of players you can take on this road trip. Is this Big Ten rules?
JEFF BROHM: No, we are not. We’re not going to take the full squad.
Q. Do you know how many you’ll take?
JEFF BROHM: I don’t know the final number. Probably like a normal road game.
Q. Update on Fuller?
JEFF BROHM: I’m not sure of the timeline. I think he’s got to get everything healed. Sometimes with that injury, weight is a concern. Monitor that, take it week by week.
Q. You talked about you want to see more consistency week to week with your team compared to last year. We’ve had some highs and lows. I counted 15 redshirt freshmen on your depth chart. Doesn’t that lead to some inconsistencies by playing young guys?
JEFF BROHM: I’m not sure we’re going to have a few more mistakes. That comes with the inexperience. It’s been our job as coaches and players all spring and summer and fall to get them ready to go, put pressure on them, let them know that game one should have been the first scrimmage, game two should have been the second scrimmage. Every day you have to be performing your best. Hopefully we’ve done that to a certain degree. Never going to be exactly like a game.
I do think we’ve identified a lot of the mistakes we made last year, coaches, players, things that have caused us to lose to a certain degree, close games. I’m hopeful that we have learned from that to a certain extent, can take the field and not allow that to happen.
With that said, everybody watches the Miami-Florida game, 250 yards in penalties, turnovers. Really the team that fought the hardest, gritted it out, found a way to win. You have to continue to have that. If you can clean the stuff up early on and limit that, you have a better chance to win.
When you look at a team like Northwestern, that’s what they’re great at. They eliminate those, give themselves a chance to win because of the lack of those.
Q. What do you know about Nevada’s quarterback? What do you expect from him in that offense come Friday?
JEFF BROHM: I think they play a wide-open attack. This is a quarterback that feels comfortable standing there, throwing it. Big, strong quarterback, has a strong arm. I think they’re confident he can step in and do a good job.
With that said, they have another athlete behind him that can play in the game as well, run around, make plays, very athletic. We have to prepare for both. That’s what we’re trying to do at this point. They’ll play a wide-open attack, be aggressive in what they do, spread the field. When you’re doing that, you got to be able to guard guys, not give up easy throws, find ways to pressure the quarterback.
Q. How tough are these first games when you’re trying to figure out what personnel you’re going to see? With an experienced team, you have a better idea. When a team is trying to fill some holes like they are, how difficult is it to piece together what you might see on Friday night?
JEFF BROHM: Well, we’re going to go up there, hopefully take the field, play to win. With inexperienced limitations, take into account, you still have to play aggressive. I’m hopeful that on both sides of the ball, special teams, we play to win. We’re not scared to take chances.
There’s not one team on our schedule that if we don’t play well and attack that we’re going to beat. Nevada is in the same boat. Play some very good football. They’ve got a lot of experience. Had some big wins this past year. They’re well-coached. We’ll have our hands full going on the road. We’re going to have to do our part to mentally, physically play hard for 60 minutes.
Q. Nick has been here, but getting Ben, what is it like having him here to bring some experience to that linebacking corps, solidify that group?
JEFF BROHM: I really believe he’ll do a good job for us, has a ton of experience. He has instincts as a football player, plays hard, loves the game. He understands our system, playing for his dad. I think he’ll bring a mentality of toughness to our team that we need.
I think the linebacker position, with Markus, Ben, Cornel, those three guys have the most experience, need to play well. You’ll see some youth mixed in there.
I think adding someone of that caliber with that type of experience is going to help our football team. I’m excited to watch him play.
Q. You talk about the dynamic of those two in practice. Get a little chippy with each other at times?
JEFF BROHM: I think Ben understands his father, how things work, keeps his mouth shut and practices hard. Those are the best type of guys sometimes to have out there. He understands how it works. His dad wants the defense to play well. He’s going to put a lot on Ben, he’s shoulders to get it done. He’s going to demand the best from him. Great dynamic.
We’re excited to have Ben. I do think he’s fit in extremely well. He’s a team player. He’ll perform at a high level for us.
Q. You mentioned the altitude a little bit. Do you see that being a problem? Have you been in games like that before where you had some problems with your players, per se?
JEFF BROHM: We made numerous calls, checked around other teams that have played there. I think we’re aware of what we’re getting into. That’s one reason we’re going out a little bit early, to make sure we get adjusted, to make sure we get a feel of the temperature and the heat, the altitude, the air level, all those things so that when we step on the field Friday, it’s just playing football. Those are the things you got to wipe out and concentrate on your job and not on the other elements.
Q. Can you go into the meaning, a metaphor that goes into salty…
JEFF BROHM: Coach Pugh, our director of player development, character coach, he preaches in order for your food to taste well, got to have salt. That’s what preserves the food.
I think as a team we want to make sure we do our part to stay salty, make sure that we’re doing the small things in order to win, that we’re all in on this, we’re all understanding it’s going to take everybody digging deep, whether you’re a starter or reserve or 13th guy, because you never know when you can be called, make sure we all stay salty.
Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: You never really know on special teams. Anybody that watched the first college football game, there were multiple fakes. You always have to be prepared for the onside, fake field goal, fake punt. Those are things we prepare for. Got to make sure you’re ready for that.
You never really know. Got to make sure your guys are taking the field full speed, covering kicks, punts, you don’t give up the big plays. When you do, you can really spark a team.
It’s hard to duplicate the speed unless you’re doing it full speed. We have a ton of repetitions on what our plan is, what we need to do. I do think J.D. gives us great experience at the kicker position. I’m excited to see our punter play as well. Hopefully we can gain an advantage on special teams this first game, throughout the year. But it will be a good test.