Purdue University Football Jeff Brohm Media Conference

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Purdue University Football

Jeff Brohm

Media Conference

Monday October 2, 2017

Jeff Brohm

Press Conference

COACH BROHM: Well, we’re excited to get back on the field this Saturday. I think any time you have a loss, you want to try to heal the wounds, find a way to get better, and make sure when you step on the field the next time, you’re out there to try to win the football game.

I think we’ve had a good week of practice. We’ve got some guys healthy. We’ve got some younger guys a lot of reps to try to improve their development, which is important, and now we’re on to Minnesota, which is going to be a very good opponent. Coming into this last game, they were undefeated and not giving up very many points at all. Unfortunately they turned the ball over a few times and got beat.

So it will be a tough football game; a team that is well-coached, very fundamentally sound. Had a great year last year going 9-4 and winning their Bowl game against Washington State. So the guys know how to win.

So we’ll definitely have to come ready to play and play a very good football game in order to win.

Q. In your first nine months at Purdue, what has been sort of the impression you’ve gotten about Joe Tiller’s legacy at Purdue?
COACH BROHM: I remember growing up and watching the Purdue teams play in his days, and it was an exciting brand of football. It was a little bit different than maybe some of the other teams in the Big Ten and they found a way to win.

I think that his blue-collar approach, working hard to improve his team, to find ways to win, anyway or avenue he can, doing things the right way, treating people with respect, demanding respect of his players and vice versa, then giving it back; I think he was really a legend in the coaching profession, and he’s somebody that everyone should try to mold themselves after.

Q. The success they had this in the late 90s and into the 2000s, where does that fit into the evolution of offense in college football in your opinion in terms of the influence it might have had?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think the best offenses you’re going to see are offenses that are creative and are trying to be ahead of the curve, and I think without question, that’s something that Coach Tiller was able to do. He brought in some good players to run that offense and to run his style of play, and it definitely was an exciting brand that people liked to watch and very productive and got him wins, and that’s really what it’s all about.

I think since then, people have tried to replicate that to a certain degree and rightfully so. But I think it’s important in today’s age to try to, you know, put your own blueprint down, but definitely realize when you can do things the normal way or when you’re going to be a little bit different. I think sometimes important to study the history of football and then try to adapt it to your style, and really it’s about scoring points, moving the chains and getting wins.

Q. If you would, kind of an unknown, I guess, but would you update us on David, Tario and Markell.
COACH BROHM: Well, I think David was able to practice some yesterday. We’ll continue to track him this week and hopefully he’ll be ready to play. I’m optimistic that will happen, barring any setbacks.

Tario Fuller, a little bit more of a long shot. If he does play, probably won’t be able to practice much. So it’s probably — not real optimistic on that one.

And then, I think Markell Jones, hopefully will be back this week.

Q. One of the things that I’ve noticed about Minnesota, I think they are in the Top-12 in the nation in time of possession and you guys, when things are going right, you’re a quick-strike offense. Does that concern you a little bit about your defensive depth, especially in the first half when you won’t have Bentley and Thieneman?
COACH BROHM: Well, there’s a concern. If you study Minnesota, if you study Coach Fleck and how they have gone about their football team, they are a ball control football team. They are going to run the ball. They are going to be consistent with it and try to get to third and short, and then convert that and run a playaction off of it.

They do a great job of controlling the tempo, controlling the ball, and when they do not turn it every over, they are always going to be in the game in the fourth quarter with a chance to win.

Unfortunately for them the past week, they turned the ball over. When you run that style of offense and you turn it over, then your chances are a little harder. I think that’s one thing they pride themselves on. They did a great job at Western Michigan last year of not turning the ball over hardly at all, and because of that they had a chance to win every game.

You know, they think the other team is going to make some mistakes, and, you know, hurt their chances and can’t withstand that type of play. So it will be important that we do all the small things. We cannot turn it over. We have got to take care of the ball. We have to have successful drives. We have to find ways to score.

Sometimes against opponents that are very disciplined in their approach, you’ve got to find ways to get a lead, possibly; and if you do, make them do a few things they are not used to doing. That can help. So that will be what we are striving to do. But if not, we’ve still got to do the small things and hang in there ourselves until the fourth quarter and see if we can find a way to win.

Q. With the two targeting penalties, how do you — Mosley, I guess, would be an option to replace Thieneman, but how do you handle that situation, especially at middle linebacker, where Ja’Whaun is such a big part of your defense?
COACH BROHM: Well, without question, those are two key components and two of our better players, and they have been playing at a high level, both of them. Really have been playing great.

So we are going to miss them in the first half. Hopefully other guys will step up and try to take advantage of the opportunity; we’re going to need them to. So it’s going to be important that those young guys that haven’t been in there as much play well and keep us in the football game until they can get back in the second half.

We have to work hard at making sure that we practice the proper tackling technique. We emphasize what’s legal, what’s not. We’ve got to drill it, which we have this past week, and sometimes things happen; I get it. But we’ve got to make sure we’re tackling lower. We’re wrapping up in the backfield, which has happened to us multiple games. We have got to make sure that when we do tackle, we’re not leading with the head, and we’re not leading with the shoulder into the other opponent’s head, which sometimes can be a little hairy.

Like in Jacob’s instance, when the guy is ducking down, but we’ve still got to be very cautious with that, and we’ve got to be — it’s got to be a thought in our head, that, hey, we’ve got to tackle the proper way so that we can all stay in the game.

Q. From a personnel standpoint, who moves into those positions in the first half at linebacker and at safety?
COACH BROHM: Well, we’ve got a couple different options on defense. I think Derrick Barnes has played some. He’s an option I think we could easily more Markus Bailey inside, which is where is played last year and that’s an option. So I think both of those are on the table and we probably could do both.

At the same time, this is a run-the-football, ball control; so we are going to have to have some stout guys in there in order to stop the run and maybe make them throw the ball more than they would like.

And then in the secondary, Mosley has played, Blackmon has played, T.J. Jallow should be healthy and needs to give us something. And even Brennan Thieneman is a guy that could see some action, as well, because he knows what to do and he’s a smart football player.

So we’ve got some options. Just maybe they haven’t played as much, and hopefully our guys step up and do a good job.

Q. One more Joe Tiller question. A lot has been talked about the innovation on offense and all that, but just as you watched his teams, you’re kind of in a similar situation; the stress that offense put on defenses and what changes did you see from the defensive side in coordinators, whether it was recruiting, or what they had to do to combat those type of offenses.
COACH BROHM: Well, I think he understood that maybe he needed to be a little bit different in order to win. He went with it and it worked.

I think he was always on the attack on offense. He got them a good quarterback in Drew and some others; and some weapons around him, spread the field a little bit, got guys in open space, made guys cover out a little bit more. Challenge defenses as far as no, we’re not just going to run it up the middle every play. We are going to get out on the perimeter, and had a lot of success with it.

Because of that, you have to find ways to combat that with different styles of defense, and maybe play more man or maybe bringing in more defensive backs.

But I think he was definitely ahead of the curve and did a great job of coming into the Big Ten and using that style to be creative, score points, create some wins, numerous Bowl games and I think just did a great job, him and his staff.

Q. It’s clear when you guys have success running the ball, you’ve had success winning games. How do you find that consistency in the running game as you get deeper into this Big Ten season?
COACH BROHM: Well, we have to, without question, be better running the football, and I think we have to be more committed to running the football. I think we’re going to try to get back to that.

At the same time, I was disappointed in myself; we have to find ways to make completions for our quarterbacks. I didn’t think we were in as much rhythm as we could, and rightfully so; Michigan had a big part of that. But that’s going to be important that we get completions, we get our quarterback in a rhythm where he’s feeling good.

But yes, we’re going to have to run the football. I don’t think we can rely on our passing game at this point to win us football games. We have to have balance and we have to be able to be smart with it, and I think it will help our offensive line mix in both ends.

I think if we are going to pass protect a lot throughout the game, that’s not our strength at this point. We have got to continue to get better at it. But yes, balance is going to be more important in getting completions for our quarterback.

Q. What is balance to you? Is it yards or plays or is it something else?
COACH BROHM: No, I just think that, you know, you can’t just drop back and pass the ball, unless you’re really outstanding on the outside and outstanding on the offensive line, and our guys are getting better. But we’ve got to keep the defense a little more off balance.

We’ve got to put the ball in our running backs’ hands and let them run and try to create yards and make guys miss in space, and let our offensive line come off the ball and attack the defensive line a little bit more.

I think if you look at our two wins, we were better at that than the two losses. Obviously the team you’re playing constitutes some of that. But we still have to make sure that we try to maintain balance to a certain degree, and if not, you know, get easy completions as much as we can for our quarterback.

Q. You had said last week that you spent time studying yourselves over the bye week. So what did you learn?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think that’s kind of what we did learn. I think for us right now, as aggressive as we’d like to be, we’re going to have to run the football and we’re going to have to control it a little bit more and be smart in the way we attack things.

You know, when we did cause some playaction shots last week, if we did get open, we were sacked, and I don’t like sacks. So we’ve got to — and our quarterback doesn’t like. I think any time he gets hit a lot, it’s going to affect him. And he got hit too much.

That’s on me. We’ve got to be smarter with the passing game. We’ve got to find ways to get it out quicker, even when we’ve got press coverage and man and guys up on us, which we’ve worked hard at and we’re trying to get more and better ideas to make sure we’re utilizing all of them.

But we have to got be a little more committed to running the ball. I think that our runners, our offensive line, have to give us some plays. If you’re able to run the ball, you’re going to have a better chance. You know, you just look at our two wins, we had success running the football and we had better balance.

Q. So with Markell potentially back, he’s kind of the main option there, or who are your options this week at running back?
COACH BROHM: Well, he’s going to need to be, and we want him to be able to step up and play well for us. I think if Tario can’t go, Richie and D.J. are going to have to be committed to giving them the ball and letting them do their thing, and Brian Lankford, and roll with it.

I think that, you know, it’s something that as a play caller and as an offensive standpoint, we’ve just got to make sure we’re doing it. Maybe doing it in a few different ways at times, but making sure we’re running the ball enough and trying to get yards.

If you look at our last game; and a lot of it wasn’t strictly due to that. It was due to some more penalties than we have not had in the past. We had way too many third-and-longs. For us to get in that many third-and-longs against a good team, it’s a bad situation and it definitely showed.

You look at Minnesota, their key is: Hey, how can I get to third and short. We have to have a little bit of that mode in us while we have some aggression because third and long is not a good down and distance for our team.

Q. Going back to the studying yourselves, what about defensively? You guys have been a pretty good defensive team over these first four weeks. What did you see that you that you can do better defensively?
COACH BROHM: I think our defense played well. We got wore down the second half. Our offense didn’t help them.

Really to be honest with you, we’ve got to mix in some man coverage and make sure we’re aggressive. When we did get beat, it normally was man coverage. You know, so we’ve got to get better, and making sure when we do call that, we are more disciplined.

I think we’ve been on some run fakes at time. We’ve got to make sure we have the proper leverage. We allowed some guys to get inside of us and run across the field when we should not have, and really, that’s what hurt us. I think, you know, man coverage, when we charted plays that were not successful, that’s when they were.

So that’s something we’ve got to work hard at, because you have to run some of it, but you know, there’s got to be a balance and a mix. But we’ve got to get better when we do man coverage.

Q. Just what is that approach like? You have each assistant kind of examine their position groups and then you guys have kind of a big meeting, or do the analysts sit in for that?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think everybody has their role. You know, I like to have my hands on it, so does Coach Holt and Coach Poindexter.

We are going to study it and we are going to watch ourselves and we are going to, you know, chart which calls worked and which calls didn’t and why and talk about it.

I think even as the game went on, you know, we’re saying the same things during the game. You know, we’re in a little bit too much man; that’s when we got beat. Let’s figure out a way not to do that as much on offense. We have to get back to running the ball and getting some completions.

So I think we kind of see it, and then as you watch film, it reiterates what your previous thought was. You know, we had a good week to study ourselves. As much as we were slightly looking ahead to Minnesota, it is important in my opinion to get an idea of what you’re good at; and the things that you’re not, either not do it as much or figure out a way to get better. And I think we tried to do that as much as we can last week, all of our coaches.

Q. I know you don’t have a lot of depth but is that something that you discuss a lot, personnel?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think we all discuss personnel. I think on the defensive side of the ball, you know, we use some different packages of different defensive linemen in the game at times and that was successful.

I thought we were fairly solid, other than a few calls and when we got worn down the second half on offense. You know, I do feel like we need to rotate the offensive line a little bit and make sure that those guys are hungry, and not only feel part of it, but that there is competition; so that if things aren’t going exactly the way we want, we are able to rotate guys in and out of there.

I think at the receiver position, we have rotated guys. They are all continuing to get better. We’ve got to just hope that certain guys emerge as playmakers, and that’s going to be important for us.

But I do see progress. I don’t believe — there were occasions we were able to get open. It just took so long, so to speak. So we have got to figure out ways to maybe be smarter, get the ball in their hands a little bit quicker and kind of let them do things after the catch.

But I like the effort. I don’t think you’ll see a whole lot of different personnel changes other than some slight mixes here and there.

Q. Who do you consider your playmakers on offense right now?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think our tight ends have done a good job in the passing game. They have made some plays for us. They have been consistent there. They have to continue to get better in the running game.

At the receiver position, the last game was rough. We didn’t get a whole lot of production there but I don’t think it’s all on them. I think Jackson has probably been our most consistent guy in the slot. Terry Wright is starting to emerge a little bit as a playmaker. He needs to be a little more consistent on knowing what to do and taking care of the ball and being in the right spot at the right time and running the proper routes always and he’s getting better.

On the outside, we didn’t give him as many opportunities the last game. I think they are working hard, and you know, we’ve got to find ways to get him the ball. You know, running back position, Tario was probably the guy that stood out the most until he got injured, but the other guys I think will step up and perform better.

So right now, to answer your question, it’s a mix of guys, and you know, there’s not really one or two guys that we really have target and make sure that they get a lot of touches, other than we want to make sure our tight ends are involved.

Q. Assuming Austin is out there again, is that something we could see again this week —
COACH BROHM: Yeah, I think so. I think against running teams, we had Eddie and Lorenzo in the game at the same time when we bumped Gelen out to the end to give us bigger bodies and it helped. I think you definitely can see that package a little bit more when we need it.

Austin hurt his ankle. I’ not for sure his status for this game yet. We’ll see. So we’ve got to make sure we have a couple different options there.

And I think we have been able to play at least two-deep at a lot of those positions. So I think, you know, there’s more than a handful that have some experience, and that need to be able to go in there and do well for us.

Q. Generally speaking about the way Gelen has played this year, you knew he was a guy that you needed to play well. Has he?
COACH BROHM: I think he’s been very, very good. Very productive. He plays hard. He’s very versatile. He can play inside. He can line up outside. He’s got strength and some quickness to him, and without question, he’s one of our very best players on defense, and I’m very happy with his performance up to this date.

Q. In terms of your quarterbacks, with David missing time, how will that impact who starts and how much we might see some quarterbacks?
COACH BROHM: I think right now, both guys have done some things for us. David had two really good games in a row, and then for whatever reason this past game, you know, first quarter, we didn’t get points but we moved the ball and put the ball in their territory a few times; and we were able to bring in Elijah and give us a spark and hit some screens and a couple throw backs to the tight end, which were beneficial. And then in the second half, really nothing got going.

So I like David. I think if he’s healthy, and he gives us a good decision-maker to this point who can do some different things with the ball in his hand, whether it’s by pass or by run. And then Elijah is kind of a stronger-arm guy who can stand in there and throw it up the field and he’ll sit in the pocket a little bit more.

Both guys I think can help us, and both will be ready to play and we’ll see towards the end of the week what direction we go. But you know, they both will still be able to help us this year.

Q. Is any part of how you’ve managed these quarterbacks a long-term decision, looking at what your team might look like in a couple years when David graduates or whatever?
COACH BROHM: I think David still has two years left and Elijah has three. We have some younger quarters behind them that are developing. I feel good about the position.

I think both our quarterbacks, because of the competition, have prepared well. They are ready to play when they go in there. It means something to them. They are ready to contribute to the team. They have been great leaders whether they are in there or not on the field, and I think in the long run, it will help us.

You know, it’s important to get wins and it’s important to score points and it’s important to move the chains. We are going to continue to try to give both of them opportunities. But if one of them has the hot hand, no question, we’ll stick with him as long as we can. I’m happy with the work ethic that both of those guys have displayed and I think they both can help us win.

Q. How about in terms of Markell, if you do get him back this week, how will the offense feel different with him? I know you talked before about packages.
COACH BROHM: Well, we’ve had packages for him in the first game, and we’ll continue to do that. To be honest with you, I’d like to see him get out there and perform for us before I do a whole offense based around him.

I think when he’s healthy, he can be a very productive player for us. I want to see him on the field and I want to see him get out there and run around and make plays for us in a game situation, take care of the ball; and I think he has it in him.

You know, it will be interesting to see him on the field this week, and hopefully he’ll be a contributor for us and do a good job. I think he’s itching to get out there, so that’s a positive. You know, we’ve got to find a way to utilize him.

Q. How about in terms of their coach, P.J. Fleck, he’s a guy that makes a lot of headlines, flashy guy, fun guy. Have you met him before? What’s been your interaction with him?
COACH BROHM: We met at a couple Big Ten functions. I think he’s got his own style, and I think that it’s been productive for him and he’s riding with it. I think his players will play for him, and will respond to his coaching.

I think he’s a guy that wants to win. He’s excited to be where he’s at. He’s in a great situation. He’s at a very good football team. They had a very good year last year with guys that know how to win and I think he’s going to continue to keep that going.

For us, we need to try to find a way to win the football game, and it will be a challenge because this team is a very good football team. They are disciplined. They are sound. They are not going to get beat themselves. That’s what they pride themselves on, and we are going to have to go win the football game. We are going to have to make plays on both sides of the ball and win the game. It’s not just going to happen. We can’t just show up. We can’t be sloppy. We’re going to have to be very productive and efficient in what we do in order to win.

Q. You’ve been very clear since you got here about ten months ago that you wanted to stop the run. Much like a couple of teams you played — do you think that plays to your defensive strengths?
COACH BROHM: Well, that’s our goal to stop the run. I think their goal is to run the ball. I think they are very disciplined and committed to what they are doing and if they get three or four yards, that’s a good run for them.

So we have got to find ways to get them in third and medium, at least, if not third-and-long, and make them do some things maybe that they don’t want to be in.

I think they are very efficient at what they do. They are very sound. They are going to make you be physical the entire game and they are going to try to wear you down, much like Michigan did, but a little different style. This is more of a spread-type offense that’s running the ball instead of a power football team coming downhill. But it’s kind of the same mentality.

So you know, we’ve got to make sure that our guys are not only playing hard but we are rotating to a certain degree on the defensive line, maybe at other positions, so that come the fourth quarter, if we are in one of those games again like we had last week, that we’re able to withstand that and continue to make plays in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. So that will be important, and it will be important without questions that all units play well.

Q. They are a team that tries to possess the football and wear your defense down. That’s something the defense struggled with against Michigan. How important will it be for your offense to hold on to the football and win that time of possession this week?
COACH BROHM: Well, it will be vital. Our offense needs to play better. I need to do a better job. Everybody needs to step up and find ways to move the chains and be efficient at what we do while we’re still on the attack.

I think, you know, every game at this point, we’ve had the lead at half-time, which is a good thing because our guys have came ready to play every single week. We’ve just got to find ways to finish the game. We’ve got to find ways maybe to keep a few bullets in our holster in the second half so that we are able to continue to be aggressive and make plays.

So that will be important for us, and I think our guys will come out hungry, and they understand this is a big football game for us.

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