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PURDUE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 16, 2017
West Lafayette, Indiana
JEFF BROHM: Good morning. Well, we're getting ready for our next opponent in Rutgers. Obviously the last game I did think our guys played hard, fought to the end. Unfortunately we came up short. Numerous things to learn from, which I do think our team will do.
To this point they have given us the effort that we have wanted. They played with a competitive spirit to try to win, which is encouraging. It's something we can build on. We just got to find ways, all of us, to dig deeper to find a way to win. It starts with the football team that is up-and-coming, gaining confidence. We've got to go to their home field and find a way to win, but we're looking forward to getting back on the field this Saturday.
Q. I know you talk about each game being something unto itself. You spent the first half of your season playing three ranked teams, pretty good teams. Unless Iowa gets on a roll, you may not face another ranked team. Do you feel like you're prepared to make a move now if you meet your expectations?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I do like the way we've competed against some very good football teams. It's encouraging that we had chances in each one of those games to win. Those are the things you can build on.
Now, like you said, we're really not looking beyond that. We've got another opponent that's a Big Ten opponent. The one game we won in the Big Ten, we had to win in dramatic fashion. I really anticipate probably every game we play the rest of the way out being very similar.
I think we've got to just find a way to win and get better and compete. I think this week will be a true test for us. We're going to have to play well to win.
Q. I think in three of your last four games, maybe total four games, you've allowed three points in the second half. Obviously there are good adjustments being made. What leads to this great second half defense you're playing?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I do think it starts with I like our defense. I have from day one. I do feel like we have some experience and some guys that know how to play the game. They're continuing to get better. They're leaders of our football team. A few of those guys are, in my opinion, big-time football players that are possible all-conference players to this point.
We've got a group of guys that are playing with them that are doing a very good job, I feel like are good players. We continue to add some depth, work guys in there. We've had some guys nicked up, others have been able to step up. I think we've got a good unit. We're well-coached. I think our guys work hard at doing the small things.
In football, but especially in the Big Ten, you've got to take away the run. I think that's our goal. Even though we've given up some rushing yardage, we've done our part to try to take away the run, and that's been very encouraging. Really we've had some luck a little bit.
We're very fortunate to get the turnovers we did. When they happened, we get on them. To this point, to force the offense to turn it over in scoring territory as much as we have, that doesn't happen very much. That's been a huge plus.
Our guys are playing hard on defense. I think they understand they can be as good as they want to be. Hopefully we continue to improve because that is the strength of our team.
Q. I think with the exception maybe of the one series, Elijah played the bulk of the minutes. Will that continue to be a competition every week in practice or would you like to see one of the two step up and be what we would call 'the guy'?
JEFF BROHM: I think we would like for one to take this thing over. But right now, Elijah has played the bulk. I think he's done a decent job, in my opinion. It wasn't one of our better games on offense. It wasn't one of Elijah's better games. It wasn't one of my better games.
We got to find ways to score regardless of who we're playing or who is in there. We got to go back to the drawing board, go back to work. But Elijah hung in there. When you're getting some pressure at times, you're forced to throw a little too soon, it will cause you to maybe not play up to your full ability.
David is still going to be in the mix. Both of those guys at some point are going to have to help us. We've got to figure out a way to help them become successful. That's not all on them. It's on myself, our coaches, the people around them. I'm encouraged that both guys work hard, and I know both guys will be in there again.
Q. You have reached the halfway point in the season. Maybe a time to reflect in a way. How would you reflect on how you guys have done through the midpoint here?
JEFF BROHM: Like kind of I said before, I think we're 6-6 on effort. I think we're playing hard, we're competing to win. That's the main thing I'm concerned about. Wins and losses happen. While you want to work hard to win, if your guys are giving forth great effort, you look in the mirror at night, that's a huge plus.
Now we've got to study and find out ways to win in those games. That's something that everyone has to do, including myself. We're going to work hard to do it. As we talked with the team and the coaches really, the rest of the season has to be about everybody digging deeper and grinding and finding a way to win, period.
I think if everybody gives forth more effort and tries to do their part, hopefully good things will happen. But it's going to have to take everybody. With the team at this time of the year, you never know who is going to have to show up. With injuries, people missing, everybody has to be ready to play. Anybody that's on the team has to give us great effort and they have to come ready to play. I think if we're buying into that, attacking it every day, we can improve.
Q. I talked with some of your former players. They said you set up kind of a system. Have you done anything in terms of motivation that's creative or different now that you need three more games to become bowl eligible?
JEFF BROHM: We haven't gotten specifically to that point. I think for now, how can we beat Rutgers, let's concentrate everything on specifically that, finding a way to do that. I think for us, all of our efforts have to be on that at this point. We have to all buy into understanding that's just the way it is.
We've got to find a way to go on the road and win. That's the sole focus that we have now. But obviously it can change as we get going into the season.
Q. T.J. McCollum, do you expect to get him back? Or Tario Fuller, Terry Wright?
JEFF BROHM: T.J., I'm not optimistic. We'll see how it plays out the end of the week. Terry Wright I would hope has a chance to be back. We'll see how that plays out. Tario is probably not optimistic for this game.
Eddy Wilson was a little nicked up. We'd like to be able to get him back. Those are the main ones from this past weekend. Actually Grant Hermanns, it's 50/50. I'd like to find a way to get him in there, but I'm not optimistic there also.
Q. They've been a team that played a number of different quarterbacks so far this season. How do you prepare for something like that?
JEFF BROHM: I think we're used to it. I think our defense, we've got a system down now. I think our guys understand it. I think we do try to be on the attack, load up the box, find a way to stop the run. We have given up some passes at times. A few times people broke free on a big run. But that's going to happen.
As far as Rutgers, I think it's about eliminating the big play and, once again, taking away their run. With that I think our guys will work hard and hopefully do a good job.
Q. What have you liked about what you've gotten out of Lorenzo Neal recently?
JEFF BROHM: I think Lorenzo has played outstanding. He's a big body. He's a great young man. He works hard. He's a great team player. Big presence in the middle. He's got a great personality. He wants to win. I think we're fortunate to have him on our team.
He came off of a surgery where he missed all spring. Tried to do our part to take care of him, get him healthy, ready to go. I think it's paid off to this point. We need him in there.
Q. You tried a couple of young linebackers there early in the game. What went wrong for those guys that you went to the veterans?
JEFF BROHM: Looking back on it, I think our young linebackers are going to be very good players, but I think we did get exposed the first two drives. They just weren't as aggressive. It's a tough environment to go in. If we had to do it over again, maybe we wouldn't have done that.
But they're going to be good players. They work hard. We've got three young linebackers that I feel good about. But when we brought Garrett in, it gave us more experience, he had a better feel, was able to make some plays, was in the right spot when we needed him to be, and it helped us.
Q. In terms of the offense, you have played some elite level defenses obviously to this point, but it doesn't appear as though there will be more of those on the schedule. 'Confidence' may not be the right word, but do you feel more comfortable going forward with what you can do on offense if you're not going to see those kinds of defenses?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I'm not going to lie, I was disappointed after the game in myself. I was disappointed that we weren't able to score. It's never fun when we can't do that. I think it's always good when you hate losing and it makes you angry.
I know that we have plenty of work to do. I don't take anything for granted. Yeah, I'd love to be able to find a way to get the thing going and score some points. That's going to be the goal. But I got to see it to believe it.
I think that our guys are working hard. I think they're giving us great effort. We're just not able to win at certain times. When that's the case, we got to figure out a few different things to do, whether it's run the ball more, move the pocket more, play-action more, whatever we can do to find ways to move the chains.
I think we had some moments, but once again, too many negative plays. That's been the problem. We have too many negative plays, too many big losses. We have to find a way to not do that. That may mean being a little more conservative or doing a few things differently.
But, yes, we're hard at work trying to find a way to fix it. I want our guys to believe they can get it done, because they can, but we just got to work hard at it.
Q. You've been rotating more at the guard spot. Is that something you can try going forward to get maybe more athleticism at those guard spots?
JEFF BROHM: I think we are going to rotate more. We talk about it every week. We have noticed the last couple weeks before this, seemed like we did a little better with the first five in there. Going into this game, I think we were probably a little too selective. We just wanted to make sure we weren't wasting any plays. We didn't have the ball much. You don't get the ball much against those teams.
I think we've talked about it. We want to play those guys. I think we want to give them an opportunity. Now we got to keep a close eye on it. But, yes, I want to get them in there more and I want there to be more competition up front. I think it will bring out the best of our guys. I think it will keep certain guys fresh. Sometimes it's not bad to get over to the side, look, see what's going on.
Yes, I anticipate us rotating more with at least seven, possibly eight, up front this game. We may be short one, so we definitely may have to adjust some things.
Q. Is Grant's injury the same he had earlier this year?
JEFF BROHM: Yes.
Q. With Swingler, how does that work? Have you put him in that number because he can't be a regular lineman without it? You're changing his number, 90 and 60. When Grant came out, he couldn't go in as the left tackle because he was wearing 90?
JEFF BROHM: Well, actually he can stay in his lineman number the entire time. He's not eligible if he plays tight end. When Grant went down, that was what we were going to do, put him in that number, if we needed to use him at tight end. We haven't thrown him the ball yet, so it's not a big deal.
He's going to have to play more this week. I didn't think it was one of his better games when he played tight end for us, but he can do it. I think he wants to do it. He's definitely going to be in there a lot more this week. I anticipate him playing well.
Q. What is Rutgers going to do defensively scheme-wise?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think they're pretty consistent with what they do. Front-wise, they're going to try to take away the run. Even when they play a two safety look, they're going to press on the outside. I'm sure they're going to want to press even more now.
We're going to work hard to figure out ways to find ways to get open, move guys around. We were able to motion some guys. At times when we got open, once again, we didn't have time to throw it or our quarterback didn't sit in there long enough to throw it, because there were guys open a few times. We have to get better at it. I anticipate them challenging us.
They've played some good football at times this year, without question. They played Washington very tough their first game. They have two wins. They're feeling confident right now. They're getting better. It's a sound scheme. We just got to find a way to move the ball on them.
Q. David has been sacked considerably more than Elijah. Is there anything behind that? Just happen to be when he's in, they get pressure?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think it's a little bit of everything. I do think David could have pulled the trigger on both the throws that he was in there and got sacked. Did he have to pull it fast? Yeah, he did. But you know what, I'm sure we're in the red zone, doesn't want to turn it over, I'm sure he's thinking a lot.
With that said, obviously I got to call some better plays to give him better options. We got to figure out a way to make it work. It's not all on David. I think David has practiced well. He works hard. He's played plenty this year where we've moved the chains and had sustained drives and scored points. This was a tough spot to go in. Even though I thought we could get a touchdown there, we got two sacks. It really hurt us.
But he'll bounce back. We'll work hard to make sure we help him make good decisions and work on whatever things we need to, which we know what they are. We'll get him where he's feeling comfortable so he can help us.
Q. Was the fleaflicker designed to throw it short?
JEFF BROHM: It actually was. One of the better calls we had. It was a fleaflicker slow screen to Hopkins. Believe it or not, it worked exactly the way we thought it would. They reacted to the fleaflicker, turned and ran. Because of that, there was no one left for the slow screen.
We tried it once before when I've been a head coach. It worked almost as good. But we caught it downfield a yard, so it got called back.
We worked it the last couple weeks. It was a big play for us. I'm not for sure, might have been our biggest gain of the day. Our guys executed it well. I thought it was going to go in and score. Got us inside the 10 yard line. We got to figure out a few ways to run some plays like that to help us get going.
Q. Rutgers started one quarterback the first five games. Went with a different guy last week who played the majority of the game. Does it change the way you prepare?
JEFF BROHM: We'll be prepared for both. I think Kyle is a traditional drop-back quarterback. We've faced teams with other multiple quarterbacks that have played. I think any guy that has some running ability, you always have to be alert to it. We've worked all off-season trying to defend Lamar Jackson.
I think we have a decent plan, even though it wasn't extremely effective that game. We have to be conscious of who is back there. Is he a runner? Is he a threat with his feet? We have to have great eyes.
Because we have been mostly zone coverage, our eyes have been very good not only at the defensive end position, but linebackers and even our drop-back safeties as far as who has the ball. That's very important. The eye discipline has to be there when you've got a running quarterback.
Q. They went with a lot of read option this past week. Is that something you have seen? How effective is Rutgers?
JEFF BROHM: That's always the most difficult to defend. If you got guys that can run it, your quarterback is a runner, one more guy to block. They're going to out-number you at times. You have to be sound at what you do. You have to find ways to slow play the run, but be there for the quarterback. You have to find ways to maybe mix it up a few times, make sure that your guys in your secondary are very active so that they can come downhill and help out and fill the alleys when there are a lot of moving parts.
It's always difficult. You got to make sure you practice it. At any point, one big play can hurt you. That's what we can't allow. I'm sure they'll be ready to do a heavy dose of it.
Q. 2006 you were quarterbacks coach at Louisville. Only loss of the season was to Rutgers. Possibly kept Louisville out of the national championship that year. Do you still think about that? What do you remember about that game?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, I still have nightmares about it. It did cost us that opportunity. We had a lead in the second half. Didn't go well. That was a big game. It was full. It was loud. The noise affected us in the second half. Really the 12th man, in my opinion, helped them come back and win the football game.
We want to go win, in general. Without question, Rutgers has had some great teams in the past. I know they're working hard to get back to that. Really it's just about both teams trying to find a way to win. I'm sure if they can find a way to win, they're going to feel great, continue to move on.
But this team has improved. You can see it on video. They've worked extremely hard. They're tired of people saying things about them, as well. They're ready to step up and get a big win. Our guys must prepare well and play hard. We're going to have to execute to find a way to win.
Q. Halfway through the season, do you feel like you changed the perception of how people view this program?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I do think that has been a positive thing that has happened for us. I do think people recognize our guys are playing hard. We've had a chance to win every game.
I try not to look too much what others are looking at. But, yeah, we want that perception to be out there. We want to be a competitive team that plays hard, that gives everything we have, that expects to win and has confidence when we take the field, that finds a way to win. It's important that we do that every week. That's what people want to see. That's what football is all about.
So I am happy with, like I said, the effort and the fact that we are putting forth a team that is coming ready to play.
Now, we need to continue to get better, and we've got to find ways to win. I think the last half of the season is just as important as the first half. Every game is important for us. Every game is a conference opponent. We have to have tunnel vision, not worry about anything on the outside, just worry about pushing ourselves to be the best, playing extremely hard.
I think at the end of the year, then you can look back and reflect on what happened. But right now we've really got to, in my opinion, like I said, dig deep and grind even harder for this whole thing to get better.
Q. Are you seeing the same mistakes being repeated by yourself? Has that dwindled maybe through the first six games?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I don't think we've had a ton of mental mistakes. I think we've had mistakes where we've given good effort, we just haven't won. That's sometimes going to happen. I'd like for it to happen less.
At times we haven't won, we have to figure out things that we do better, maybe do them more. We've got to get better at what we're not good at. While you're doing that, you just got to take care of the football and do all the small things.
We've had a few too many penalties. It was a little bit loud environment. It hurt us. But really small things, things that add up. I think we work hard the day after the game at going through all the corrections, taking it slow, being kindly critical, meaning, hey, we're going to address it but in a positive way where we try to get better at it, not just move on. I don't like to just move on.
Even when you lose a bad one, you want to try to realize what you do, like you said, find ways not to repeat it. We've worked hard at it. We have to learn from our mistakes, get better physically, continue to give great effort and hope we do the small things that add up to a win in the end.
Q. What was your message to Elijah after the late interception?
JEFF BROHM: Obviously the first five seconds, I was angry like everybody. I know he was. After that, you know what, he's trying to do too much. We work to scramble through every day. That drill is specifically designed to, hey, I want you to move, find an open guy, throw it to him. If he's not open, I want you to find a way to stay on the move and run and get us yards. If he's not open and you can't get us yards, someone is coming at you, you have to throw it up in the stands.
He wanted to do a little too much. There was a crossing route called. They'd been playing a lot of man, they played zone. They dropped eight in coverage. So it's not going to be as open as you want. It's tight.
He went to scramble, buy time, which is fine. But if you can't buy more time, you have to chuck it up in the stands, come back for third down. It's two-down territory, move on.
He'll learn from it. It happens to the best of us at times. He just tried to do too much. I think we talked after, and he understood. Those things happen. You just move on from them.
Q. At what point in your career did you learn that when you were playing?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think you try to get better every year. I don't know if you ever truly learn it. Every year we have, we always make a cut-up of everyone's interceptions. We study them. We write out, Why did you do it?
For me one year, I under-threw the deep ball too much. Let's quit under-throwing the deep ball. Other years you're forced into coverage. When you're on the move, you don't.
We used to do a drill a lot with the 49ers when I was there of running and throwing it up in the stands. You had to practice doing it. This was really not an 11-on-11 setting. It was a specific drill of moving, throwing it up in the stands, coming back, do the next play.
We have to drill it as much as we can. Sometimes it takes a play like that to learn from it. I'm sure he'll work hard at it. He's given us great effort at this point. I know he'll improve.
Q. Are you optimistic you'll get Fuller back at all this season?
JEFF BROHM: You know what, every week it's kind of different. He's got something that may have to get fixed after the season, to be honest with you. Whether we can get him back healthy enough to play, it is a possibility without question, but we only want to get him out there if he feels comfortable and can do things.
I think it's 50/50. Maybe it could happen in the next couple weeks. I don't want to rule it out. It's a matter of how he feels. I believe it's a deep ankle bruise, bone bruise. I don't know all the dynamics of it.
I'm sure if he can go, he can play. But I don't want him to play unless he thinks he can function and do everything that he needs to do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports