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October 30, 2017

Jeff Brohm

West Lafayette, Indiana

JEFF BROHM: We're looking forward to getting back on the field, practice this week. Yes, it was a disappointing loss, but it's a loss hopefully we can learn from, find a way to get better. When you lose close games, they are disappointing, they're frustrating.

I do think our guys played hard. They were into it. They tried to win. We came up short. In those type of instances, I think the head coach has to look in the mirror first and figure out ways that I can do things better, which is what is going to happen. Our coaches need to find ways to get better. Our players need to work hard to get better. But it's a collaborative effort.

I do think our players will respond as far as working hard and wanting to find a way to win. But we're all going to have to do our part, do a better job. It's just got to be a process that you fight through. You put your head down, you work your tail off to find ways to get better. That's what we're going to have to do.

We need to find a way to have a good week of practice, find a way to win in front of our home crowd, which by the way has been outstanding. I appreciate all the support and the noise they made in the last game. They did make a difference. Hope that we can get out there and find a way to win the next one.

Q. You mentioned after the game Saturday some teams don't know quite how to win yet. Is that something you can teach teams to do or do they have to grow into it?
JEFF BROHM: I think we've had some tough, close losses. We just haven't had the ability to win in the end. All of us have to kind of realize that it just doesn't happen, especially in conference games you got to go above and beyond, you got to make plays when they're there, put your players in a position to succeed as much as you can, figure out what they do best, adjust along the way. In all those instance, we came up short.

I think as long as your players believe it can be done, that they're willing to figure out a way to make it work, I think it can happen. We just are not there yet. I've been in these situations before. All you can do is look in the mirror and figure out a way to get better yourself, then help your team get better.

We've just got to work hard to find a way to do a little bit extra, each one of us, in order to improve and find a way to win.

Q. What experiences do you draw now from your coaching and playing career, your whole football background that you draw from?
JEFF BROHM: Even as a head coach, my first year we started off 3-5. Had to win our last four to go to a bowl game. Lost a lot of close losses. At the time we were scoring a lot of points. We just couldn't stop people. We were loosing a lot of close games in the end. Had big leads at halftime. We just found a way to work through it and eventually we got to where we could win the close ones. It helped us get where we needed to be.

Even my last year as a head coach at the last spot, we were 2-3, had to win in double overtime in order to get to 3-3. Those types of instances happen as a player and a coach. Sometimes you're on the good end, sometimes you're on the wrong end.

Right now we just have to work our way through it, help our guys. What you can't do is get frustrated, get the attitude of, Here we go again. I think that's what you need to try to block out and make sure it doesn't happen because unfortunately maybe the last so many years we haven't won as much here as we'd like to. We just need to find a way to work through it, break through the barrier, have the toughness and fortitude to just stick with it and find a way to get it done.

Q. You have Illinois. They have struggled in the offensive categories. Your defense has been kind of the staple.
JEFF BROHM: Well, we're taking nothing for granted. I think our defense has done a very good job all year. I think without question, it's the strength of our team. I worried before the season, but I do think with that said we have not been great against the pass. The losses we've had, teams have put up a lot of passing yards. We've got to find ways to improve there. We've got a lot of work to do.

I think we've been outstanding versus the run for the most part. This past game we gave up way too many yards in the passing game, big plays. In the end that hurt us, even though our defense fought and did a pretty dag-gone good job throughout the game.

We understand what our strengths are, I think, but we've got to improve on our weaknesses, and that's on both sides of the ball.

Q. They've used two quarterbacks. What do you see in those two guys? One passes well, the other runs the ball well. What about that dynamic concerns you? You've used two of your own.
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think their situation, like you say, one guy is more of a runner, the other is a passer. When one is in, you probably know a little more what to expect from them.

George has played mostly lately. They've been in some ballgames, hung tight in some games, maybe others haven't come out the way they wanted. We're in the same situation. This team will come in hungry, ready to play. We're going to have to improve and do the small things and get better in order for us to win.

Q. After the game Saturday night, you said while you have confidence in both your guys, David, with his maturity and experience, maybe gives you I think you said a better chance to win right now. Here we are on Monday after watching the film. Do you still feel that way?
JEFF BROHM: I like the progress of both of our guys. Yes, without question I think David, with our offense right now, gives us a slightly, slightly better chance to succeed. This past game, for the most part, he performed fairly well, took care of the ball, made some plays with his feet, had some accurate throws, had some key big throws up the field that were dropped that could have been big plays. He was accurate with it. He gave us an opportunity for some big plays, but we just couldn't finish it. I think he managed the game fairly well for the most part. That's what he's going to need to do to help us win. I think the ability to have a little mobility, the ability to run also gives us a little bit more.

Q. Obviously in your many stops, professional playing career, did you ever cross paths with Lovie? If so, how well do you know him?
JEFF BROHM: Actually, I was in Tampa Bay as a player when he coached there. Terrific person. Stands for the right things. Came up in the Tony Dungy tree, who is not only a tremendous coach, but an even better person. He has the same style. Know a lot of guys on their staff.

I know that they're hungry and working hard to find a way to win, as well. It's going to take a win or two to kind of get things going from wherever you're at. I know they're going to work hard to find a way to win.

Q. When you say 'look in the mirror' and find ways that you can do things better, what would some of those things be for you?
JEFF BROHM: Well, it's always about how can we put our players in the best position to succeed and have success, win football games. When you're not winning, you just can't sit there and say the players got to get it done. I've been there as a player. While some of that may be true, everybody's got to do their part.

I think for us, on an offensive standpoint, when every week your biggest plays are screens or trick plays, we have work to do. I think we ran the ball better, had some opportunities to make plays, we did not. We have to figure out ways to try to generate that. If you can't generate big plays at least a little bit, you're going to be running uphill.

We've got to continue to look at things, get the ball to our play-makers, which we're trying to do a better job of, making sure certain guys get touches, then continue to improve the other guys around them. We have to improve our players on our team even as we speak right now. They've got to gain confidence. They've got to work hard in practice. They've got to figure out a way to get we are. We have to motivate them in the right way to help them.

Defensively, you know, there's always room to improve. Like I said, I think we need to be better against the pass. That's not just on the players. We have to make sure we're doing things that they do well, put them in the right position so that they can do that, then continue to all parts onboard work hard to find a way. If everybody's doing it, maybe we can make slight progress.

Q. You obviously added some wrinkles to the offense on Saturday, ran more option. Why did you think that was something you thought would work for this game?
JEFF BROHM: As you guys know, running the ball is what we're going to have to do mostly. If you have the ability to pull it at times, it helps your offense. I think David, even though running is not his forté, he can run the ball effectively. We have to make sure that the defense honors that. They can open up some things when we give it to our runningbacks. We have to make sure we're doing enough of that to gain yards.

The fact that we were able to rush for around 200 was a positive step, but we've got to hit some play-action off of it. We have to find ways so they can't load the box. Without question, having the ability for the quarterback to run did help our running game, so we got to continue to build off that.

Q. Do you feel for the most part he made the right decisions in terms of keeping it or handing it off?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, really there were just two times. I thought on the goal line, he maybe tried to pull it late. If he pulled it, we could have easily walked into the end zone. I thought it was an easy read. The guy came crashing. Don't know if he pulled it late, couldn't get it out. We got a negative play because of it, couldn't get the touchdown.

We had a play late in the game where we were trying to get the edge, block down, get some yards. The linebacker did shoot the C gap. We wanted to try to sprint to the edge, get some yards that last drive. He did not get to the edge. That one didn't look too well. Those are probably the main two times.

Q. You did fewer double tight end packages, more 10 personnel. Did you like what you got out of that, balanced, ran the ball consistently?
JEFF BROHM: I think with our tight ends, their strength is the passing game. They're getting better as blockers. We were down one tight end. I think sometimes to help the running game, we say let's spread the field a little bit more with four wide receivers. I think we were able to generate some plays in the passing game, some pick plays, some rub plays that got us some yards. We were able to spread the field and allow a little more room for our runners to run and our quarterback to have a little more room. That was effective at times, I thought.

Q. You mentioned you don't want guys to get frustrated. That was a word they kept using after the game. But you want them to still have an edge about them? It's turning their frustration into a competitiveness, a desire to continue to get better, right?
JEFF BROHM: I think they've done a very good job at this point of working through struggles, having a positive attitude, wanting to win. With anybody, when you lose a few in a row, what you can't do is allow it to get to you. Myself, our players included, sometimes it will seep in. We just can't get over the hump. The more you start thinking that, then you're wasting time, finding ways to improve.

I think our guys will respond. We have certain players playing at a very high level. We have to make sure the others continue to improve and help those guys out. We have to do our part to get them all better.

I don't think our players will doubt themselves. I think they'll respond and have a good week of practice. We just got to improve this week.

Q. Da'Wan Hunte, will he be able this week?
JEFF BROHM: Hip flexor issue, couldn't play in the second half. Right now it's up in the air. Have to see how he responds. I'm hopeful that he can. I do not know one way or the other yet.

Q. Something that happened in the game?
JEFF BROHM: He had a slight strain a while back, but he practiced all week. It flared up again. I think he slipped out there on a play, then that's when he pulled it. We had a few guys slipping. But he slipped on one play, that's when he pulled it.

Q. Update on McCollum or Herdman?
JEFF BROHM: McCollum, we'll wait and see. I don't know either way. Herdman I think is making progress. That one will be midweek before we know.

Q. How do you assess, having looked at it, how Kamal Hardy played? Would he be the guy if you had to put somebody else in at the corner special teams?
JEFF BROHM: He's the next guy up. Kamal, he'll continue to improve. I think he'll work hard. I think it's not like he didn't try, didn't play tough. He just was out of position a few times, didn't trust his position at other times. Those things hurt us a little bit.

I think he'll respond. He's a competitive guy. He knows he's the next man up. We've got to just work hard with him this week, get him back to believing that he can get it done, push him to be his best. I think he'll take the field and do a better job.

Q. Looking back now a couple days later, what is your assessment of the last defensive drive? Would you do anything differently?
JEFF BROHM: I think, like everybody, it was a disappointing outcome for us. I did think our defense would be able to stop them with no timeouts, having to go 70 yards. There was fault by all. There were some calls I'd like to be a little better on, without question. I think we had some missed tackles that allowed them to get out of bounds multiple times. That really hurt us because they had no timeouts.

A combination of all of them made for a non-productive series for us and it cost us the game at the end. Yes, there's things we all could do better on that.

Q. They had a non-fumble fumble, is that what it was? Any talk about that during the game or afterwards?
JEFF BROHM: Yes, I mean, I thought it was an obvious fumble on my part. The referee blew his whistle because he said forward progress was down. After talking with the head of the officials, he confirmed to me what I thought should have happened. But it was one of those calls that didn't go your way. We recovered the fumble, they got three points on the drive, we didn't get the ball and create field position. That's the way it goes.

Q. You followed up with the Big Ten?
JEFF BROHM: Correct.

Q. Today?

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: Well, I will say this past week we caught more balls than those receivers have ever caught in their life in practice. We drilled it. We created with it. It wasn't just a JUGS Machine. It was a different drill of throwing balls to them hard, five or 10 yards apart, spirals, ducks, end over end. They caught a ton of balls. I can't say the work wasn't put in.

Unfortunately we just had some drops. They were on some big plays, some good throws. Those guys just got to fight through it and stay with it. Those are our receivers right now. I think they want to win, they want to do well. They work hard. They just got to fight through it.

Yes, we've got to continue to stay on it, be creative with extra drills to help those guys where they feel comfortable. Yes, when you take the game field, you got to go out there and, while mistakes happen, you got to believe that you can make the play and go make it.

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think David is going to be our quarterback for this upcoming game. But Elijah Sindelar is going to be in the bullpen always ready to go.

I think what we have to do is do whatever it takes to help our team win, that's what we're going to do. (Indiscernible) want to be stubborn with it. I want to make sure we go with our instincts. Those guys are very close in their ability, how far they've come. Like we said before, one gives us a little bit different element. Both will be ready to go.

David I think is gaining confidence. He needs to play efficient. He needs to do all the small things to help us win. Our quarterback, whoever is in there, has to play well in order for us to win the football game.

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: Well, I don't think there's anything that would fit the offense better. We'd love to throw it up the field and do it vertically. I think right now, kind of like we talked before, running is probably our strength, his ability to kind of create a few plays with his feet when it's not there, ability to pull it down and get a few yards at times, and his ability to pull the ball and run for yards on some of our zone read stuff and option stuff are things that he can do fairly effectively. He executed those pretty well this past game. I think he'll continue to get better with it. Right now that's the direction we think we need to go to help our team win.

Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BROHM: I enjoyed my time there. We went to two bowl games. Our quarterback was bowl MVP. Nathan Scheelhaase was on the staff there both times. It was a good place to work. Good people there.

I think they're a hungry football team just like us. They want to try to get over the hump. They want to try to find a way to get better and win. They've got to do all the small things right in order to do it. But they're just looking for that one or two wins that helps get them to that point.

We're in the same position. We want to make sure we're doing all we can. I think our guys are hungry. They want to win. But we've got to win a few games to get over the hump to kind of get us going and get us a spark. This is an important football game for both teams. I know it will be a good football game.

Q. Talk about defending the pass better. Where do you start with that?
JEFF BROHM: I think in the Big Ten, you face a lot of running football teams. Against anybody, the number one goal is to stop the run. I do think even though we've given up some run yards, we've committed to stopping the run. We've done a very good job. I think we need to be better against the pass.

I kind of felt it going into the season, that was the concern: How are we going to be against the pass? In our losses, we did numerous things wrong offensively and overall, but we've given up quite a few pass yards. We have to be sounder in our coverage. We have to be in the best position to make plays. Then we've got to tackle in space.

I think it's got to be everything we're doing from a scheme standpoint to coaching to players to continuing to work the pass, ball skills, reading route combinations. All those things matter. While we don't play sometimes a lot of man, you can give up some yards, you have to be able to tackle in space. Have to be able to mix that in some.

Really it's a combination of doing a lot of things. I think we'll work hard to improve. We've got to continue to develop our guys in the secondary so that we can play more guys. I do think we have not been able to play as many lately as we would like. That's been disappointing. We've got to improve the ones that are playing a lot and get the next batch ready to go so we can put them in there.

Q. Do you feel the defensive line, through a combination of blitz packages, different pressure, schemes, you're getting to the quarterback a little bit more, or is there still a big jump you need to make?
JEFF BROHM: I think we've been a little bit better getting some pressure, getting to the quarterback. There still needs to be improvement there, figure out ways to isolate our guys one-on-one or to overload the protection a little bit. I think we have gotten better at getting in there, but there still needs to be improvement.

Our entire defense just needs to continue to push themselves to get better. I think they understand they're our strength now. They've got to improve, as well, do the best job they can to tighten things up. The margin for error is small. We have to make sure we're doing everything right.

Q. On the first play Saturday night, they hit a big pass. I think Josh stepped in, tried to make a play. What's the balance between not giving up a big play or trying to make a big play on defense?
JEFF BROHM: Well, Josh has played very well for us this year. I think he did have a couple times where he could have possibly made an interception. That one, then the two-minute drive on the corner route over his head. Like to find a way to make that play. For whatever reason, we did not. Yes, we would like to make the play when we're in position to. Both those times it hurt us.

Josh has played well all year. I think he sees the video. I think he knows every play matters. If you're close, you just got to find a way to make plays. That's at every position. Overall, he's done a very good job for us.

Q. Question out of my comfort zone. When you lined up the three backs in the backfield near the goal line, do you have a catchy name for that? Full house backfield?
JEFF BROHM: We did not. That's a good name. It was a full house backfield, you're exactly right. To make it shorter, we just call bone right, bone left. We go with it.

I thought we'd get more yards on it, kind of blocking by the runningbacks wasn't exactly the way we'd like. Didn't get as much. Thought we had a chance, but that one didn't work as well.

Q. How would you gauge the blocking by the wide receivers when you're trying those short passes to the perimeter?
JEFF BROHM: It was not good, so... That was really disappointing, to be honest with you. I think our guys need to do the small things, be physical on the perimeter. We missed multiple blocks that I don't think are very difficult. So we're going to work harder at that this week specifically and make sure that we find ways to get that fixed because I think that's easily fixable.

We just got to be tough and understand that every play matters. Even if you don't think it's coming to you, or you do, you have to block wherever you're at. We missed some key blocks there that should not have happened.

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