Purdue University Football Media Conference

Monday September 10, 2018

Jeff Brohm

Press Conference

COACH BROHM: As you guys know, it’s time to put the last game behind us. It was, like you guys saw, disappointing, an embarrassing loss that I take full responsibility for. I need to do a much better job in a lot of ways.

So we’re going to work hard this week to identify the problems, which we’ve definitely already started that — that’s underway — and go about trying to fix them.

So these losses are no fun, but that’s part of football. So I think it’s important that you learn from your mistakes, you go about trying to get better and you work hard to fix them.

There’s a lot of other opportunities ahead of us this year. And they’re going to be challenging opportunities. And we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our part.

We’ve got a great opponent coming up in Missouri that I know we beat last year, but if you watch the video of them since that game, I believe they won eight of nine or nine of ten or eight or nine games since then.

They’re very talented. Very good football team. They’re well-coached. They’re playing very confident now, and it’s going to be a tough matchup. We’re definitely going to have to improve a great deal this week, come out, not shoot ourselves in the foot, play disciplined, hard football, opportunistic, find ways not to make mistakes. And if we can do that we’ll give ourselves a chance. But a lot of work to do. We’re looking forward to getting after it in practice this week.

Q. There were some junctures last season where things looked kind of bleak. What kind of experiences can they draw on from last year when things turned around that might be applicable now?
COACH BROHM: I think we can draw on it. I know what I have to understand, our team does, is while we tried to start where we finished, that did not happen. And the fact of the matter is this is a totally different team. And we’re not at that point yet. We have a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of growing up to do. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make.

But each week is a new week. And I think our guys do understand that, hey, we’re going to take the practice field like we want to improve and get better and attack it. We need to be able to come out and be aggressive in everything we need to do. We need to be able to practice hard so that when we take the field still play confident.

Right now I’m sure some people’s confidences are not at the highest point. We’ve got to get that back up and that’s only going to be done through hard work and preparation and making sure that, like I said, you identify the issues, you work hard to solve them, and then you go about trying to play as confident as you can come game field. And veterans have to step up and the young guys have to improve each and every week in order to give ourselves a chance to win.

Q. You seemed pretty critical of yourself after the game regarding the personal fouls and the discipline. How do you change that in the season?
COACH BROHM: Well, that’s going to change. For us, you know, we’re going to make sure from here on out everyone is held accountable every step they make, 24 hours a day, on the practice field. And what they may think is something small has been costing us. And really they’re silly, silly mistakes that there’s no use for them.

It’s something that — there has to be consequences for their actions. And if we — if guys are getting 15-yard penalties they’re out the game. If we see something close to that, that’s not a penalty, they’re coming out of the game. We have to do it in practice, address it in practice and make sure that they’re training themselves every day to understand you can’t be silly, I guess is a nice way of putting it, and do things that cost your team when it has nothing beneficial for anybody.

So it should be about the team. When good things happen, we need to celebrate with our guys only and get back to the next play.

Q. There have been a number of untimely penalties on the offensive line. It’s been a bunch of different guys, a bunch of different types of penalties. But do you see any kind of common denominator there that can be addressed or is it just the way things are working out?
COACH BROHM: They’ve hurt us. Those penalties have hurt us. They’ve set us back. Sometimes they’re 15-yarders. So we’ve got to coach better. They’re being very — the new cut block rule has got us. We need to make sure we’re staying up on the backside and making sure we don’t even give the umpire an opportunity to make a call against us.

We need to make sure that we don’t have negative plays inside the 30. We need to make sure that, yes, we don’t commit false starts and illegal blocks and cut blocks.

And those things have hurt us. And it’s cost us points. And when you’re not a dominant football team you can’t cost yourself points. You can’t beat yourselves. And that’s the things we didn’t do at the end of last year that gave us a chance to win that we’re going to have to do. And we’re going to work hard to get better at that.

Q. Still taking the PAT up one at the end. Was it simply a matter of the distance?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think it’s a lot of matters. You know, at the time there was close to seven minutes left in the game. If there’s a lot less time, well, then you take your chances on an 18-yard, two-point conversion that there’s probably as good as a chance of a Hail Mary to make that. But you still take your chances if there’s not more possessions left.

But if you look at the game, you know, if we go for two and don’t get it, we got the ball back with an opportunity to score. And if we take the extra point and make it and we score when we’ve got the turnover, which we should have and we did not, we end up missing a field goal, now it’s a two-score game and they’re done, the game’s over.

So without question we were going for two. And that’s why they called a timeout and took the penalty. If it was a five-yard penalty, I think we probably would still go for two. The fact that it’s 18 yards away, and there’s almost seven minutes left in the game with a couple of possessions left, I’ve talked it over with numerous people, I would still do the same thing.

Q. Did you add Cory Trice and Elijah Ball to the depth chart here?
COACH BROHM: If they’re on there, then, yes, they’ve been added.

Q. Does that represent them having made a move or —
COACH BROHM: Well, they’re close to getting in the game and they’re probably going to play this year. It’s just a matter of how we’re going to use them and make sure we use them in the right way. Yes, they would be the next guys up if they’re on that list.

Q. From an on-the-field perspective, how have you self-evaluated your own performance these first two games and what needs to change from that point, if any?
COACH BROHM: Well, like I said, I have not done a good job and I need to do better. And I think that we’ve shot ourselves in the foot and there have been some discipline issues and penalties that have cost us that should not have happened and that starts with me. So I need to get that fixed and make sure that our players understand that that can’t happen and there are going to be consequences and we’ve got to coach it and talk about it in practice and make sure that they’re aware of it. So obviously that didn’t happen good enough.

So, yes, I need to get better at that. I need to make sure that we continue to improve upon our weaknesses. And that means scoring in the red zone, not having critical penalties, not turning the ball over and making sure on defense that we can stop the pass. I’ve been very disappointed in our pass coverage with and some things we’re doing and how we’re playing. And we cannot allow that amount of pass yards to that football team and expect to win the game even in those conditions, and even going back to last year we gave up too many pass yards.

You can look at the Arizona game. We made a quarterback — he’s not a thrower — throw for a lot of yards and five touchdowns. So we’ve got to get better at certain things. We have identified quite a few of them internally. We have to make sure we work hard at getting that done, and it’s going to be an everyday process, but yes, I have to get better.

Q. With the secondary, do you look at personnel changes maybe at cornerback?
COACH BROHM: I think right now we’ve got to make sure we’re playing multiple guys there and getting them in meaningful minutes and making sure they get experience. At certain times we’ve been in position, haven’t made the play. And that’s been disappointing.

And then I think overall we’ve got to put our players in the best position to succeed first and make sure we’re evaluating that every day and every game. And then we’ve got to make sure that those guys understand what we’re teaching, and in general tighten things up.

Way too much cushion. Way too much area to throw. We’re not challenging routes. And we’ve got to make the plays when we do, and that has been disappointing.

Q. Will you have Smiley back this week?
COACH BROHM: You know what, I’m not — I’m hopeful but I’m not for sure if that’s going to happen. We’ll work hard to get him ready, but I’m not for sure yet.

Q. Based on Missouri, the way they throw the ball, just assuming you’re probably going to be playing a lot more nickel this week as opposed to the previous weeks with this opponent. How does that — does anything change from that standpoint?
COACH BROHM: Well, this is a good quarterback. He’s very talented. He can throw the football and he does a great job. They’ve got speed on the outside. They’ve got good players. This is a much better team than what we faced this past week.

With that said, we can play much better. And we’ve got to figure out a way to make them earn their points, not just give up easy completions. We’ve got to challenge things. We’ve got to make them throw it over the top of our head.

We’ve got to figure out a way to be a little more aggressive, but yet smart in certain situations. And, like I said, I think it’s a combination of everything. Our players have to play better, but as coaches we’ve got to evaluate what we’re doing and put our players in the best position to succeed.

Q. What stands out about Lock as a quarterback and what do you appreciate about how he plays the game and how he plays the position?
COACH BROHM: Well, he can flat spin the ball. He can throw it vertically. He’s accurate. He has a really good arm. He can put it in tight windows. He looks the part. He’s played a lot of football. He’s played against a lot of football teams. Last year they had a bad day; we had a good day.

And since that game they’ve taken off and they’ve played extremely well. And to this point he’s played extremely well again. And he’s got a chance to play on Sundays.

And it will be a great test for us. It will be a tough matchup, but our players need to take the field confident and expect to make plays and go out there and play as hard as they can and figure out a way to get it done.

Q. How do you handle your own quarterback situation this week?
COACH BROHM: Well, I think this past game, overall, both quarterbacks played better. We took care of the ball. We made better decisions. We ran the offense. We just had some costly penalties and turnovers and some missed opportunities that hurt us.

We ran the football very effectively. Now probably do need to take a few more shots up the field, find ways to make some bigger plays, but I think we’ll start one guy and the next guy will be ready to come in if we need a change up or a spark.

Q. Is it going to be a predetermined situation similar to last week, or are you going to name a starter — or go with a starter and see how that plays out?
COACH BROHM: Ask that one more time.

Q. Will it be a predetermined change?
COACH BROHM: You know what, even last week, if things are going well, I’m going to be, try to be a smart coach. We want — I think we have both quarterbacks that are capable of helping us win. They can do some different things for us.

Whoever starts the game we’ll give them an opportunity to showcase what he’s about and the other one will be ready. Whether that’s the second quarter or beyond, I don’t know. I try not to predetermine it exactly and I think both guys will be up and ready.

Q. As you dissect the red zone issues, is it the penalties that pop up, the mistakes that pop up, or is there something else deeper going on there with not being able to get the ball in the end zone?
COACH BROHM: Well, it’s a combination. We have had turnovers in the red zone. We have had costly penalties and some five yards, got a couple 15 yards that have really knocked us back. When we’ve ran the ball in a little bit tighter, we haven’t got as much success. But it’s been a combination of all of them.

So you gotta be careful should we be more aggressive, which at times last year we were. We threw three incompletions and now you’re kicking a field goal, too. So you’ve got to figure it out and change it up and mix it up.

And what’s happened at this point has not been effective. So we’ve got to reevaluate, but at the same time play smarter, take care of the wall, do the small things, get points when we can but try to get touchdowns as much as we can. So I think it’s just a combination of all of it and not being opportunistic.

Q. When you’re facing such an explosive offense, do you try to play more ball control and time of possession, like maybe even against the way that you prefer to play, or do you just try to be who you are?
COACH BROHM: I think the last game we were ball control. Ran it a lot and didn’t throw it as much. We’re going to try to score points. And I think we’ve got to do what we’re good. We’ve got to do what we see from video. We’ve probably got to be a little more aggressive and take more shots and make sure that we’re doing that as well.

But, you know, you’ve gotta do what your offense can do to score. We don’t go fast all the time. We’ll try to get in the right play. But I think it’s important that just overall we’ve got to play better in all facets, even special teams. We haven’t done anything that’s hurt us, but we haven’t done anything that’s helped us a whole lot.

So all three segments, I think, we have to play more efficient, more productive. And we’ve got to work hard to improve in all of those areas.

Q. In your estimation what’s held you back taking more shots vertically down the field in these first two games?
COACH BROHM: We had some sacks. Sometimes when you hold it a little longer, you get hit. We took a shot on a post and the quarterback had to move and couldn’t make the throw. And then you’re sitting at second and 10.

So we’ve got to figure out ways to take shots. Maybe move the pocket a little bit, which we did the first game. Threw some interceptions when we moved the pocket.

So a few of our things haven’t worked as well. And we’ve got to figure out — continue to do what we do well but also make some adjustments so that we can be productive when we do throw it vertically.

Q. Pass rush, with six sacks this week, did you see a drastic improvement from week one to week two? And did you like what you saw with some of the blitzing, some of the things on defense to get to the quarterback?
COACH BROHM: I think our guys did play harder. We worked harder that last week. I did see them play harder. And I think because of that and being a little bit aggressive in blitzes with our linebackers, we made some plays.

So that progress was made on that aspect. We still have a long ways to go as far as getting the pass rush with four guys, being productive in that aspect and being able to play coverage. We’ve got to figure out ways to continue to get our guys to be in the right position, play smart football and still get after the quarterback.

So, like I said, while the sack total was up, we gave up too many pass yards. And we’ve got to balance that out and make sure that we’re helping our guys to be able to succeed.

Q. Is Rondale Moore healthy?
COACH BROHM: He’s a little nicked up. We’re just going to continue to work on getting him as fully healthy as he can.

Q. Cornel Jones obviously got a lot of criticism for his penalty, but he also leads the team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. What’s been your evaluation of Cornell through the first two games here?
COACH BROHM: I think Cornel will continue to improve. He’s actually a very good linebacker. The defense we have is set up for the inside backers and those guys should be the stars of the team. This past game he did some very good things. We’ve got to continue to make sure he’s working hard and playing hard and bursting and finishing and running to the ball, being smart in between the whistles. But he has talent.

And he has to continue to mature and become a leader for this football team if we want to win. He has to understand that as well. Whether he’s a sophomore or not, if you’re making plays and doing a good job on our defense, you have to lead the defense as well.

So we want him to be a vocal leader, do things the right way, but he is talented football player that has a good instinct and knack for making plays. We just need him to be a leader as much as he can.

Q. Are some of these mistakes just a byproduct of youth, and is there any way to speed up that development and that maturation process?
COACH BROHM: Well, we have to speed up the process. And that was obviously the question coming in. I thought we would handle it a little bit better than we did. And we have not.

So, yes, we have to do a better job of coaching him. And I think last week we worked hard on the effort of the intensity of the ability to finish coming off the ball, doing all the small things.

I think we did improve there. Then we had some silly things that happened. So the lack of discipline part is on me and we’ll work hard and I will work hard this week to get that fixed and make sure that we’re not beating ourselves and doing just dumb things.

So the fact of the matter is we have not played smart football in two games and it’s cost us. And we have to get that fixed.

Q. Jared Sparks is going to be an interesting matchup for him going against his brother. I know that you really like the way that Sparks was performing in preseason has that carried over into the season for him?
COACH BROHM: I think he’s done a good job. We’ve got to continue — past game is a little different. We ran the ball a little bit more than we normally did. Didn’t get as many opportunities. But you know what, he blocks well and plays hard and he likes football and he’s a competitor. I think he’ll come ready to play. And I’m glad he’s on our team.

Q. How about the kicker situation? Did the two misses on Saturday make you reconsider any way you might use your kickers this season?
COACH BROHM: You know, not exactly at this point. It was not one of our better days. And we’ve got to work hard to get that fixed. I know J.D. is ready to go whenever we need him. And we won’t hesitate to make a change if we feel like we need to.

But, yeah, we can’t miss the extra points. And it was a costly miss on the field goal, which are going to happen some. But as you know with kickers sometimes it’s mental and we’ve just got to make sure that, not only with our kickers, but even the rest of our players, as down as we may be at times after a tough loss, we’ve got to get them back up.

We’ve got to give them more pop to our step from the top-down and we’ve got to make sure that as we’re working hard and getting after guys, trying to improve, we take the field confident. Because really that’s the only chance you’re going to have to win.

When things get rocky and some adversity hits, if you don’t have confidence, then things will get really bad. We’ve got to make sure that all of our guys understand how the process works and that we just continue to fight hard and battle our way through it.

Q. The fact that you have to spend time on discipline issues on the field, does that take away from actually preparing the team to play a game?
COACH BROHM: Well, I would have hoped we would be beyond that. I’m not going to lie. But obviously we’re not. So that’s my fault. We’ve got to go back and make sure we get that fixed, which I don’t think is a hard fix, other than making sure that it’s relayed, communicated, expressed vocally in a way that people understand how it’s going to be.

And even with that, even in practices and beyond, and even things we see in the game, if it starts to get where they’re toeing the line, we’ve got to rein them back in and take them out of the game and firmly explain to them once again how it’s going to be.

So I think our players will respond in that aspect. Like I said, I’ll take full blame for it and we can move on to getting better and working hard to improve on the things we need to improve on.

Q. But that doesn’t take away from the actual preparing your team to play the game, or does it?
COACH BROHM: I think you have to address it. If you think five or ten minutes concentrating on it takes away; but, no, I don’t think it takes away from us preparing. Yes, I’d like to think we’re beyond that, but we’re not. We’ve got to get it fixed. And throughout the course of the year all different things will come up each year. Last year different things came up. We couldn’t catch a deep ball. We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t get open versus press.

We worked hard to try to get that fixed and while it didn’t happen overnight. We got better as the year went on. So every year, hey, what are we not good at, what are we screwing up? Let’s not just put it to the side and just do what we do. And hopefully by doing that things will get fixed and corrections will be — excuse me — will be made.

But, no, we have a lot of work to do and we’ve got to go about it every day and figure it out and at the same time, when we take the field, we’ve got to come out and play aggressive.

Q. Did you come out of the game injury-wise okay?
COACH BROHM: I think overall for the most part we’ll be okay, few nicks here and there. Nothing severe.

Q. Would you contemplate offensive line changes so that maybe you can take more vertical shots, or do you feel like the five guys, the starters that you like, they’ve got to get better?
COACH BROHM: Yes, we’ve contemplated that. And we’re addressing that right now. So you’ll probably see a mix of things happening in this game. But, yes, we are definitely open to doing whatever we think will help us in that aspect.