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PURDUE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 6, 2017
West Lafayette, Indiana
JEFF BROHM: We definitely were pleased with the result of the last game. It was a good win for us to finally get back on the winning track. I thought our guys worked hard for the last so many weeks to try to improve and find a way to win. To finally get one on our home field was good to happen.
Definitely moving on to the next one. A very good opponent that's very hot right now. Coach Fitzgerald has been doing it for a long time. Their team plays tough, physical, hard. They know how to win. They've won three overtime games I believe in a row. That's the sign of a team that knows how to win, knows how to do the small things to get it done. We have our hands full.
We look forward to going up north and try to find a way to pull one out, if we can.
Q. To the best of your knowledge, can you update us on the specifics of David's injury, moving forward what is going to happen?
JEFF BROHM: Well, David dislocated his ankle. When they got out there, they were able to put it back in. Got him a little more comfortable. But it's going to require surgery, which I believe he'll have tomorrow. Around a six-month rehab table, give or take a month or two. He'll miss spring ball, but hopefully be back for the summer months.
Q. I'm not a medical person, but when you have a dislocation, was there a break also?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I'm not exactly for sure. I think there may have been a small break of the fibula, something with a small ligament down there. I don't know the exact terminology.
It is something that they can fix. The rehab will take some time. But I think he can recover from it. It will, of course, knock him out the rest of the year. He will not be able to go through spring practice. We're hopeful he will be ready for the full summer months of training and ready for fall camp.
Q. It is his left, correct, ankle?
JEFF BROHM: I think it's his right. I believe it is.
Q. Northwestern, as you mentioned, are red hot right now. To win three overtime games in a row, it's historical. As you watch them on tape, you mentioned they play with a lot of confidence. How do you win three in a row in overtime? That's tough.
JEFF BROHM: When I first got here and I studied as many teams as I could in the Big Ten, watched a lot of football games, they were the main team that stood out as far as this team plays hard, and this team knows how to work, find a way to win. They know how to do just enough to get the most out of their talent, go to bowl games and win them. That's a credit to the head coach and coaching staff and the players on the team, that their work ethic is that way.
Once again, you see that on video. They play hard. They're sound. They don't beat themselves. They're well-coached. They've kind of been together from a coaching staff and players for a long time now. They know what it takes to win in this conference. They normally find a way to either win or barely win.
They have a great history of fighting to the end, getting the most out of all of their guys, maximizing their potential. Like I said, it's a credit to Coach Fitzgerald, he does a great job. We have our hands full. It's something we have to try to match. But it's going to be hard to do.
They're hot. They're feeling it right now. They want to win. It's important to them. They're already bowl eligible. They're ahead of the curve normally what they have been. They normally scrap, find a way to get there in the end. I believe their offense is playing better this year than maybe in their past, and their defense is very sound in what they do.
Q. What does David's injury mean for Jared Sparks?
JEFF BROHM: Jared is going to continue to practice at receiver, play that role for us. But he will be the backup quarterback, as well. We'll have to make sure he's ready to go in there with at least a small package of things that he feels comfortable with and go from there.
I think he'll be up to the challenge. I think he's ready to do whatever we ask him in order to help us win.
Q. Elijah, how is he responding that he's going to be the starter going forward?
JEFF BROHM: He's a very cool, calm customer. I think he handles his emotions well. While he was disappointed he had not been starting the last couple weeks, he practiced well. He's continued to work hard. I think he's excited about the opportunity to play. Hopefully we do the things around him to help him excel, utilize his talent.
But I think he'll step in and prepare well, practice well, be ready to go on Saturday.
Q. When you look at the opponent, their passing offense, what stands out to you? How will that challenge your pass D?
JEFF BROHM: I think they've gotten better on that side of the football. We've got to continue to get better against the pass. I think we did make some strides, but we still have to find a way to improve there and make sure that while we want to be good against the run, we have to defend the pass as well.
It's everybody. It's the secondary, linebackers being in the proper alignment, drops, have their eyes on the quarterback. It's the defensive line getting as much rush as we can. I think the ability to mix in a little more blitz this past week, a little bit more man helped us. We have to be good at understanding what the call is, being in sound positions. When the play is there, we've got to make it.
Q. What do you make of Northwestern's quarterback?
JEFF BROHM: You know what, I met him at the Big Ten Media Day here in late summer. He's a big kid. He's a guy I think has gotten better each and every year. He's a good leader. He's played tough. Even though he hasn't been perfect at times, he's gotten better as the year went on.
He understands how this conference works, what it takes to win. We're going to have to do things to keep him off balance and try to get some pressure on him.
Q. Was there any consideration to having Nick Sipe be the backup? You don't want to take that redshirt?
JEFF BROHM: Nick Sipe, you know, he has developed well throughout the season. We would prefer not to take his redshirt off. That's kind of what we were going to try to strive to do. He'll be practicing, getting reps, travel with the team. If certain things happen, he's got to be ready to go. We would prefer not to use that at this point.
Q. Would it be a more likely scenario for him if it was Sindelar getting injured, you would need a quarterback to play a full game?
JEFF BROHM: That is correct.
Q. Would the offense change very much? Obviously Elijah has played, but the last couple games you have done more option kind of things. How comfortable do you feel with Elijah in that role?
JEFF BROHM: I think Elijah is a good athlete. Without question, we've got to be somewhat cautious as much as we want to run our quarterback. That element has to be used to a certain extent. I think we've gotten a lot out of it the last couple games, the ability to change things up, spread the field, create a few more lanes to run, make them at least honor the quarterback. We'll have to still do some of that. Without question, we've got to be careful how much, make sure that Elijah does (indiscernible). He's running hard to get yards or he's getting down before the contact. I think we'll work hard at that this week.
Q. Wouldn't sound like David would be ready to travel with you on Saturday. Would it be possible for him to go to Iowa, to have a captain there?
JEFF BROHM: I think it will be whatever David is up to, whatever his doctor says after surgery. I'm not sure how long it takes for him to get on a plane, all that stuff, with his ankle. Whatever they say, we'll definitely allow.
Q. You were more under center Saturday than you had been in a single game all year. Was there a reason for that?
JEFF BROHM: I think the fact that we have been able to run the football effectively lately. I think at least early in the second half or in the second half we were able to hit some play-action. I think sometimes it's important to really simulate a run. Being in the shotgun, you can do that some. Under center, you can definitely have them bite on the play-action a little bit more.
Without question, it helped our tight ends get open. Not having them detached from the line of scrimmage in a run set under center, every little bit we can of help that we can get we've got to utilize. That did help us.
Q. What was the explanation of that not being targeting on David?
JEFF BROHM: You know, I didn't get a good explanation. Their replay officials replayed it. For whatever reason said it wasn't targeting. I don't agree with that. I haven't gotten confirmation yet, got back with the head of the officials.
I can't argue any calls. Whatever they say goes. But without question, I think it is important to protect quarterbacks throughout the league, make sure that we're getting those calls right.
Q. You changed up the nickel a little bit, did not have Antonio Blackmon out there with that group. What went into that decision?
JEFF BROHM: With our defense, we've always liked our linebacking corps, our starting unit on the defensive line has performed well. The backups are getting better. In the secondary, we are a little shorthanded. We wanted to make sure we kept our best guys on the field.
Some of our linebackers are good athletes, as well. We've done that before, maybe not here as much. We have a guy that can double as a linebacker, play out in space a little bit, we can get away with that, still be sound against what the offense is doing. We changed that up a little bit.
Q. David has been hit several times this year without those calls going your way. The Ohio game, the Nebraska game, this one. Any theory as to why those calls have not gone your or his way?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, I do, but I'm not going to say any.
I think we've got confirmation on some missed calls, some missed late hits that should have been called. Why they haven't, you know, I don't know the exact reason.
Like I said, I think it's just important in general that you protect the quarterbacks, that you get those calls right. There's multiple officials out there, too, in the back that should have their eyes there.
We can't control what's called. But we want it called fair. Without question I think that David has taken some unnecessary shots.
Q. Last play of the Nebraska game be something that the Big Ten said something to you afterwards?
JEFF BROHM: Correct.
Q. Injury updates, anything further you can tell us about McCollum and Hunte?
JEFF BROHM: We'd like to get T.J. back. Actually I'm hopeful that he will. I've been hopeful a couple weeks before, so I'm not for sure.
Da'Wan I think was close to being able to go, but wasn't able to pull it off. I would be hopeful he could go, but we'll tell later on in the week.
I think those are the main two. Hermanns will not play. Fuller probably will not play.
Q. Worship and Hopkins got nicked up, but were fine?
JEFF BROHM: Worship came back in. Hopkins came back in. Both those guys did a good job for us.
Q. What did you like about what you got out of Jarrett Burgess? First time we've seen him as much as we did. He did some positive things for you.
JEFF BROHM: Well, we needed, in our opinion, to get some type of spark in the passing game, get some life to it. Jarrett is a guy that has good size and he can run. He has shown signs throughout fall camp, since we've been here, but he's been injured a lot, to be honest with you. At certain times we were ready to go with him, he would get injured before the game, a day or two before. That's been a little frustrating.
He had a great week of practice. He knew we were going to try to go with him more, go from there. I thought for the most part he did a very good job. He was able to make some plays for us up the field, caught some balls underneath, I think provided some competition to the position. Other guys raised their play.
In general, we caught the ball much better. We worked extremely hard on it the last couple weeks. Our coaches, players, spent a lot of time on it. We're going to continue to do that. We're going to continue to adjust practice so we have consequences for drops, we make sure we're keeping track of it.
While sometimes it's going to happen, I think our guys have worked hard to improve. That's all we can ask. I thought the whole unit got better at catching the ball this past game.
Q. Was there anything in particular that Jackson Anthrop did not do on his blocked punt or did he just drop it?
JEFF BROHM: I think he just dropped it. He normally is a very steady player for us. Catch the ball on the four yard line, wasn't something we'd like to do. I think he let himself drift, didn't know where he was at. The drop, he just dropped the punt.
I think he's a competitor. He'll bounce back and do a good job for us. The main reason he's back there is because he's got solid hands and we can count on him catching the ball. I'm sure he'll bounce back very well.
Q. Do you have a general rule on that, about the 10 yardline?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, we have it at the 10 yardline. Sometimes that can vary a yard or two at the most. That one, he just allowed himself to drift. After that, I believe he had one that wasn't near as close, they let bounce, went right in the end zone.
He'll learn from it. He just has to be more aware of exactly where he's at.
Q. Jared Sparks, how do you anticipate him splitting his time? 50/50, more receiver than quarterback this week?
JEFF BROHM: Practice or game?
JEFF BROHM: Practice, he's got to practice at receiver. We've done that before. If he doesn't get the reps in at receiver, he's not experienced enough to handle that. He's young at that position.
He's going to go to all those meetings. He's going to practice at that position. Then we'll spend some extra time with him, school him up on what he needs to know on offense. He'll run the backup position for us, get reps. We'll give Nick Sipe a few just in case.
I think he's improving as a receiver, but he's still very green. We want to continue to develop him there, utilize him as quarterback some, has to be ready in case something happens.
Q. Since you mentioned the game, do you have some sort of plan right now?
JEFF BROHM: I think him running the football some definitely helped us. Especially early on after they kind of caught wind of it, it wasn't quite as effective. He is a strong runner. Probably try to use him in a few different ways, make sure that he's getting enough touches, whatever that is. We're in the process of getting it ready for this week.
He did a good job. I think he's got some strength. He wants the football in his hands. He's a competitor. We definitely got to take advantage and let him touch it some.
Q. Since he's now the backup, do you have to have more than just a wildcat package for him? Does he have to pose a threat in different areas?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, he does. You know what, he's been at the quarterback position all spring, all summer, all fall until we moved him over to receiver. I think he definitely understands our base concepts. I think there's certain routes he for sure can throw. We'll have those up. We'll have those in for him. If they're not going to honor him, we'll definitely be able to use that. I think he'll be excited about the opportunity. I think he'll do a good job.
Q. Why is your running game clicking these last three games?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think we've spent a lot more time practicing and devoting time to getting better in the running game. I think we've been more consistent in running the football and sticking with it, not trying to always create big plays and take advantage of extra guys in the box, all those things.
I think we've been able to neutralize that with different personnel groupings, spreading the field, creating some lanes. Really, like we've said, Richie, D.J. Knox, Markell, those guys are running well, taking care of the ball. Good things can happen if they're taking care of the ball, where they're going to get yards, bounce off tackles, find lanes, push the pile, get us into some manageable third-down situations. Because we were not effective throwing the ball earlier in the year, we were in some bad third-down situations. It's a hard hill to climb.
I think it's balanced us out lately. We definitely maybe are not as explosive, but we've been more consistent at getting positive yards, eliminating sacks, negative plays. We just have to have the right mix. Sometimes you got to be more aggressive.
I thought we opened it up a little more in the second half. But we're probably going to have to build our passing game off the run and not vice versa. I think running the football can open up some things in the passing game, and that's probably the route we need to take.
Q. What did you think of the rugby scrum, the pile?
JEFF BROHM: You know what, it's always great to see. It's interesting how they let the pile continue to get pushed and pushed. Our guys did a good job. D.J. Knox, it actually came from him. He said his feet were actually off the ground for about three yards.
I said, It doesn't take much for your feet to be off the ground (laughter).
It was interesting to see the pile get pushed for probably at least eight yards. It was a great effort by our guys, fun to see.
Q. The TV replay, the camera got on you. You had this smile on your face.
JEFF BROHM: You see that all the time. That might have been one of the farther ones I've seen in a while. I thought eventually they would go down. For a while, I mean, looked like a two-yard gain, first down. It was funny.
Q. Can you elaborate on Sindelar offering to move to tight end.
JEFF BROHM: It wasn't really much more than, Hey, I want to play, I want to help the team win, if I got to move to another position for a while I'll do that.
The interesting part is, we worked some quarterback drills, special teams, working some throws inside the red zone, he'll go over there and catch some balls. He can really catch the football. He is a very good athlete, has very good hands.
I think he actually probably meant it. Probably would have done a decent job. The physical part, doing all that takes a little while. But as far as athleticism and hand-eye coordination, he's definitely an all-around athlete. He's a guy that played basketball, baseball, football.
He's excited to be back in there at the quarterback position. Without question, he stepped in with a lot of poise and composure, was 2-2 with a great touchdown pass and a perfect throw down the sideline on tight coverage. Managed the team well.
We've got to just make sure we continue to help him develop, do the things around him necessary to help him display the talents he has.
Q. When you were in here last week you said you were going with Blough, maybe he fits better what this team needs to be right now. That might be different if the infrastructure around Sindelar was different, skilled position players playing better. Now that it is Sindelar, how much retooling can be done to play to his strengths?
JEFF BROHM: Well, that won't be a problem. I think we kind of know what he's good at, what he likes to do. But at the same time I think we've got to make sure we do what our team does well, and that's where David, some of the zone read stuff, spreading the field came into play a little bit.
For whatever reason, David's ball has not been dropped as much. That's not all on the quarterback. Just there were a lot of things that went into it. David had some experience.
But Elijah I think has worked hard on improving on all of the things that he needs to as far as touch and ability to make good decisions, run the offense. I think he's a good athlete and a good runner. If we need him to run some, he can do that.
I think quarterback play sometimes isn't always all on them, it's on the team around them. We were in a bad little spell there, a little funk where we lost some confidence, weren't making plays. He happened to be the quarterback, suffered because of it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports