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PURDUE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 15, 2018
West Lafayette, Indiana
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We were very excited and proud of our team this past week. I thought it was a good win for our football team. I thought they came ready to play, gave a good performance, played for 60 minutes and any time you play a rivalry game, it's good to get a win. Very proud of our coaches and team for that.
Now moving on to the next week, which is, everyone knows, is a great opponent. I think when you look at the college landscape, there's two teams that stand out as being elite, and that's Alabama and Ohio State, and rightfully so. They have earned it. They have got great players, great talent, they are extremely well-coached, and they know what they are doing.
The thing that really impressed me the most about them is they have had a couple games that have been a little bit close, and these guys just know how to win. They know how to find a way to win. They have a lot of history and tradition and it's going to be a very tough match up.
So our guys just got to have a good week of practice, prepare ourselves as best we can, have great attitude and come game day, cut it loose and let the pieces fall where they may. It's an exciting time for our team to play this opponent. I know our fans are excited and we're looking forward to this game on our home turf.
Q. You guys are going to be big underdogs in this one. Was there an upset that you remember being part of, either as a player, coach, that kind of stands out?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Oh, shoot, you know, I'd have to go way back and people that know me, my memory's not very good. I know in college, we beat the Alabamas, we beat the Michigan States in a Bowl game, both Bowl games. Those were big upsets for us. We beat Texas. You know, as far as one that really stands out, you know what, I hate to tell you, but my memory isn't very good.
So I think, you know, last year, at Iowa was a good win for us. So that's the one I'll speak about the most and that gave us a lot of momentum against a very good opponent on their home field. This is a great opportunity for us to play a great, great football team and see how we stack up.
Q. I don't think Cole Herdman played the last game. Can you update us on his status?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We're hopeful that he can comeback this week and play. Wasn't quite up to strength going into game day so we didn't play him, and we were hopeful that if he sat this past game and continued to rehab this week, we could get him back for Saturday, but that will be a game-time decision, but we're hopeful that that could happen.
Q. The trick play, the touchdown pass to Blough, seems like every trick play, everyone wants to call it the Philly Special now. Is there a cool name that you can tell us or do you want to keep it in in-house?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Six-pack. Name for it. Seems with certain plays, you just have one-word names or code names. We've actually had that one in for years.
As a coach, I think we've only ran it one other time before for success. I think we ran something off of it one time, another touchdown. But this one, we practice it. We got the look we wanted and it worked the way it's supposed to work.
Q. There's some discussion on social media and stuff of changing the IU sock cheer to "Cancer Socks" as kind of a tribute to Tyler Trent. Have you heard anything on that or any thoughts on that?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I did hear that. I don't know where I heard it but you know, I'm all for our fans and what they want to do.
Obviously Tyler Trent's situation is special to us and we're hopeful that he continues to fight the fight the way he has the whole time with great courage and energy that others wouldn't have in that situation and we're hopeful that he can get to the game and we'll see what we can do for him.
Q. When you put up 611 yards total offense, most points you've had at Purdue, I think the defense can maybe get overlooked. Can you talk about that side of the ball and what you liked out of that group?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it was a complete win and that was the good think about it. When both sides and special teams are playing good enough that, can sometimes happen; and both ways, if things aren't going well.
I thought our offense executed well. We made some big plays to get us points, even though we went down 7-0, our defense responded and tightened things up and got a little more aggressive and then you know, once again, I think once we built a little bit of a lead, and we were still aggressive on offense and we were still aggressive on defense, it made things a little bit easier because it kind of took them out of their element.
Obviously they weren't a passing team when they had to throw the ball more than they wanted that. Plays into our hands. I was very proud of our defense. I think we can continue to get better and continue to put them in better situations to succeed. We continue to be aggressive and that's been good.
You know, this is going to be a huge test for us this week to see how far we've came and how much farther we have to come in order to be a good football team, but I am happy with the way our guys have worked and I'm happy with the way they have played in this past game.
Q. You were tied with Alabama and Clemson for 17 plays over 40 yards this year, tied for third in the country. Can you summarize why traditionally, no matter where you've been, that's been the hallmark of your offense?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we work hard at it and that is what we're trying to do. I think in order to win football games, in order to play exciting football, in order to play a brand that people want to watch and play in, you've got to try to get big plays, and to do that you've got to be aggressive, and I think to do that you've got to be able to run the ball and throw playaction but you've got to be able to throw the ball vertically. You've got to be able to work it. We spend a lot of time, every practice we have, at the deep ball and throwing the ball vertically. Doesn't happen just as easy as you think it would. You've got to work at it.
I think we've had better success this year than last year, and that's a credit to our players and assistant coaches for working it. That is our goal. To sustain a drive for eight to 12 plays and get a touchdown is much harder to do than you think, but when you can create some plays and big chunk yards, it not only gets you down the field faster, it gives you momentum. It gives you players confidence, and that is what we are trying to do every game is create as many big plays as we can get.
Q. I know you were worried in the preseason about your pass rush and so was Nick Holt, but seems like with the aggressive blitz packages that you guys have come up with the past few weeks, you've been able to get to the quarterback. I think you have multiple guys, three or more, that have three or more sacks. What has changed in that regard since maybe the 0-3 start?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I'm proud of our guys. I think they have worked hard to improve. I think they have improved. Now leaving the field I was very happy with the win.
As I've watched the video, you know, to be quite honest, we've had to do multiple different things in order to create pressure, which has worked and that's good that we've done that and our players have done a good job with it. When we've done some base things, we still need to have better effort. We need to have better finish and better get-off and get off blocks much better.
So there's plenty of room to improve there but I think because of all the different things we're trying to do, and our players are working hard to get better, we put our players in a better position to do it and we've been more aggressive.
We've brought more guys. We've slanted, we've stunted, we've twisted. We've done more things to create confusion for the offensive line, and for an offense, that's what is hard to do, to block movement and to see a bunch of different looks. That has helped us create some pressure and our guys have responded well to that.
Q. It seemed like Isaac Zico had a couple good weeks in a row. In terms of last year, Anthony stepped up later in the season. Do you feel like I sack stepping into that role where he can be the second option on the other side of the field there?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think leaving the field and after watching the video, I was extremely proud of Isaac, and I think ever since last year, probably didn't go exactly the way he wanted or saw it coming in as a first-year player. He's had a tremendous attitude. He's worked extremely hard. He's put in the effort. He's put in the time. He goes as hard as he can.
He's been very good on special teams. He busts his tail to get down the field and make plays and make tackles, which he has and all those things have carried over to help him get better and it's helped our team.
I'm very happy and thankful that he's had such a great attitude and a work ethic and he's been such a great team player, and I think that's rubbed off on the other receivers. I think the other receivers have work hard as well but he's definitely led the way as far as a guy who wants to do something special, wants to help his team win, and I'm very proud of his performance.
Q. Probably didn't have the season he wished he had last year. Is there a point somewhere between last season and this season where you saw that mentality switch, where you saw him understanding his role more?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know, I think you can see that sometimes guys lose confidence when things aren't going their way and he did lose some confidence last year.
You know what, any first-year guy, whether you're a freshman or junior college guy coming in, sometimes it's going to happen, and it did. But to his credit, he's done everything we ask, and more. I think in fall camp, he had some good days and then he had some days that weren't as good, so he kind of went back and forth.
But his work ethic didn't change, and because of it, I think he's getting over the hump and now he has great confidence and he plays that way. He's more physical. He's confident in his ball-catching abilities and ability to get open, and he showcases it on the field. I think it's been a gradual thing, just through his hard work, he's been able to continue to improve and get better.
Q. You mentioned guys getting opportunities from strong special teams; Horvath is seeing more opportunities on the offense. What did he show that you made you feel like he could provide a spark coming out of the back field?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we are fortunate right now, we feel great confidence in Zander Horvatch and his ability. Works extremely hard. He doesn't miss a rep of practice. I think in the spring, he showcased what he could do; if we had to play a game with him at running back every play, we're 100 percent comfortable with it.
I think he's going to continue to improve and progress, but we would like to give him some more action, which I think we're able to this past week.
Now we like other our running backs, as well. I think D.J. Knox has ran extremely hard. He's a great leader, a great team captain. Couldn't be happier about the way he works.
Markell Jones has stepped in and done a good job when he's been in there and continues to give us a spark.
You know, Tyrell (ph) is coming back from injury, so we're working him back in there. But we feel great about Zander and his future, and I think if he continues to work hard, he can do a lot for us, run the ball. Has better speed than you think. He can be physical, block, play special teams and we just have to find a way to utilize him as much as we can.
Q. You mentioned a healthy backfield, and that wore down towards the end of last season. Having a full set of healthy backs, how many weapons does that provide you?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, the more depth you have, the better you're going to be and you're going to need him throughout the course of the year. What was once thought of as a crowded position, we needed all of our guys and they all stepped in and did well this year due to some injuries. It's a little thinner, but we have multiple guys still that can play the position we feel comfortable with and I think they have done a good job.
We feel good about where that position is at, and you know, I think we have some young guys that are working hard to get better when their time comes, and it's an important position. You have to have multiple guys. You can't have one guy that carries a load all year long. While someone may want to carry it 25-plus times a game, you're not going to last all year in college football nowadays, and if you do, you're going to be very fortunate.
Q. How much has the big lead at half-time the last two games allowed your defense to settle into the game and also get your offense a boost of confidence and also how important is getting an early lead on Saturday, to try to dictate tempo everything and else?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, big leads are important and they definitely help the cause. We want to be a team that starts fast and plays fast, and finds a way to do that.
Now this week will be much more difficult to get that done, but we've got to be aggressive in our approach. A lot of good things happen when you have a lead. If you're continuing to still be aggressive.
The other team's confidence isn't quite what it should be. Yours normally is. What you can't have is you relax too much when you have a lead and you'd rather not be as aggressive, which has hurt us in the past, has hurt me in the past, so we've got to keep that mentality.
This week, it's just a matter of playing aggressive and attacking and seeing where things go. If we were able to get a lead, yeah, that would be tremendous. I think for us, it's just going to be hanging in there, being able to throw blow-for-blow, being able to take a few shots, and being able to respond.
This is a good football team and they can score points and they can play defense and they have got a lot of talent. You know, you never know what's going to happen. You could be down early.
And I think the good thing is, we've been down in games, we've responded. We've had the other team make some runs and we've responded. That's been one of the biggest pluses I've seen of our team lately, so we've just got to keep that same mentality and be able to play the entire game as hard as we can and hope for the best results at the end.
Q. What are the challenges this Ohio State offense presents to your defense?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You have a quarterback that really likes to throw the football, even though he's a good athlete. Good offensive line. They don't run it as much as you would probably think but they would like to but they have been very effective throwing the ball and they have got weapons. The quarterback has been airing it out and they have been very effective doing it.
So this will be a great challenge for our defense because this is a powerful team that really likes to throw the football as much as we do, if not more. They have been successful at it, and we'll see how we can find ways to get to the quarterback, disrupt his timing a little bit, bring a little pressure to make him feel uncomfortable and see if we can create some turnovers.
One of the keys to the game is creating stops, creating turnovers and not turning the ball over ourselves and hopefully that will help us stay in the game for as long as we can.
Q. Are you getting better pressure from your front seven, but how you do you feel about specifically the cornerback position, and how much they have improved or grown the last few weeks and then the challenges ahead of them trying to defend their receivers?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: What's interesting is our secondary cornerbacks have improved as we created more pressure. We knew that going in. Maybe didn't have the best plan early on but we knew going in, we felt our secondary could be better, as long as our front seven created the pressure we did last year, and early on that wasn't happening. Have to guard somebody a long time.
Now I think we're playing better and we're mixing things up more. We're getting after the quarterback more effectively. Our secondary has improved and gained the confidence back that they had early in preseason camp. I think they have worked extremely hard.
They have got to still challenge things. I want them to challenge things, challenge routes. I want teams to have to throw the ball over our head to beat us. I don't like to give up a lot of easy completions. We've got to make sure that we're continuing to be aggressive, and that means you're going to get beat sometimes, and you can't lose your confidence.
But I do think our secondary has done a better job for the most part and continued to improve and work through some early struggles.
Q. Do you have a specific message for your team Sunday when you got together with them about this week and this game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know what, believe it or not, before the game is over, no one had mentioned Ohio State. We know what the schedule is who is on it, and we've got multiple great opponents coming up.
But after the game, I was proud of our performance, playing for 60 minutes, finishing the second half. We talked about that. Then of course, we just started to mention that we have a great opportunity this week. A great opponent coming into our stadium.
For our guys on our team, this is one of the reasons you come to Purdue for, to play in games like this on the big stage against traditional powerhouse opponents that are if not the best team in the country, the second-best team in the country right now, according to the polls. They have won a lot of football games and they have beaten a lot of good teams, and right now they are the best team in our conference and right now we get a chance to play against them and see where we stack up.
Q. Is there any lesson from the first game against Northwestern? A lot of hype, sold-out, but you got off to a slow start there. Is there a lesson from that game that you can apply to this week to maybe get you guys off faster?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we've learned a lot of lessons the first three weeks, as coaches and players, and we've tried to apply those and get better at it. I think we have.
You know, this week is a new challenge because this is a very talented team that's playing extremely well. And yeah, we've got to hang in there at the beginning and really come out and play aggressive and not make mistakes.
I think both things we didn't do as the beginning of the season. We didn't play as aggressive as we should and we made too many mistakes. If we can not hurt ourselves and do silly things, whether it's after the whistle and things like that, of that nature, dumb penalties, costly penalties, and not give the ball to the other team.
You know, I feel confident that our guys will play hard. We've just got to come out and play aggressive. This is one of these games that you've just got to cut it loose and you throw your punches and see why you stand and stack up at the end.
Q. Midway point of the season. Do you as coaches take a second or a minute to take stock where you're at the halfway point or is that something that just doesn't happen?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know, really, we don't. Before the season, you look at the schedule and you know when you're playing and which teams are really, really good and which teams are good, and which ones are homes and which ones are away. You might in your head calculate some things out.
But really, once we get going, no, we don't. This is a great opportunity for us. If you can figure out a way to do something special, it does things to your team that the consequences are unbelievable.
We've got to make the most of it, and as long as our team goes out and plays hard and plays aggressive, I'll be happy and I know our guys are looking forward to playing in this game. But it's a great opponent, and this team's playing well and they have played well for a long time. They are very talented.
So you know, I think for the fans and for everybody that's a Boilermaker, they are excited to come to the game and watch and we're excited to play in it.
Q. What really sets Haskins apart: 28 touchdowns, four interceptions, what he did at Penn State at the end. What do you see from him?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think he's a very efficient quarterback who throws the ball well and he likes to throw the ball. While he's a good athlete and can run, he likes to throw the ball. Gets the ball out of hi hands quickly.
I think they do a great job on offense of spreading the field and give him numerous chances to get it out quick where he feels comfortable and he's not taking a lot of hits and he's not standing there too long; and then they will take their shots and mix those in.
They are going to throw the ball and be aggressive and they are going to take plenty of opportunities to do that, and then they will mix in the run. That's kind of been their strategy. I know they are Ohio State and have great talent and can run it any time they want, but they are a passing team that sets the run up by the pass and I like that myself. I like watching it and they have done great job with it.
I think he feels comfortable in their system and he's got great weapons around him. But he is an accurate passer. I think when you watch him, he can make all the throws and he does a great job with it.
Q. Can you draw any valuable frame of reference playing Missouri and Luck?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think we are a different team now. That wasn't one of our better games on defense. I thought we sat back and just let him do what he did. We weren't as aggressive. We didn't attack.
I think our defense is better at this point and we've got to do things to disrupt the quarterback. Being a former quarterback and knowing that position at least a little bit -- if our jersey is not dirty at the end of the game, normally, we probably won the game.
So we've got to make sure we give him different looks, create some pressure, continue to be aggressive in our approach and not let him stand back there and just pick us apart, because if you do that, he will definitely do that and he will feel great about it and it will be a long night if that happens.
Q. Last thing I wanted to ask you about, do you still hope to have Worship this season?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, obviously the hope is to have him and everybody back. I'm not optimistic about it. I think his recovery's gone well. We've still got to give a little more time and see where he's at and we'll make the best decision when we think he's healthy and figure that out. But as of right now, he's not there yet.
All things are on the table and I think that we'll be smart about it and we'll talk to him about it once we get to that point, but all things are on the table.
Q. I think a lot of people in a blowout scenario in the fourth quarter were surprised not to see Sindelar at all. Talk about your level of confidence if you have to put him in the game and what the thought process was to not get him any action ton Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we feel great about Elijah. I mean, I have all the confidence in the world that he can be a productive quarterback and he has been a productive quarterback for us and he will again.
I want to make sure he's fully healed and ready to go before we put him in. There's no lack of confidence in Elijah. I think that give it another opportunity, he'll be ready to go and he can perform at a high level. Everybody struggled at the end of the year, myself, our whole team and I think that when he gets back in, he'll do a very good job for us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports