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PURDUE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 5, 2018
West Lafayette, Indiana
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We're definitely looking forward to getting back on the field this Saturday. An away game at Minnesota.
The last time we came off a pretty good-sized win, we went on the road and lost, so that's going to be the challenge. We've got a team that's going to be Very hungry. They didn't play the way they wanted last week against Illinois and they have had a good season so far, and I know they will come in this game hungry.
The challenge for us is to practice extremely well this week, practice hard, be the hungrier team, want to win the game, prepare ourselves, take the field we know we have a chance to win and go out and play as hard as we can.
We're anticipating cold elements. Our guys are going to have to have some toughness and be able to play strong, play through the elements and find ways to win the football game.
Q. I saw some comments from you in the locker room kind afterwards, you talked to your team saying we're still contenders. I assume you mean in the Big Ten West standings. Are you using that as motivation for the team or is that something you shy away from because you don't want them to focus on? How do you approach that situation?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: It's always a one-game season but yes, we do want to emphasize that, you know, there's pressure to win the game. If you want to be a contender in the conference, you've got to win, and if you don't, you're out. That kind of happened to us at the end of last year and we kind of had something similar where we knew our backs were against the wall and we had to win to advance.
Really for us, in our mind, we have to win to advance and stay a contender. Easier said than done, but there is things to play for, but the only way to get that done is to play this as a one-game season going on the road at Minnesota, a place that's always going to be tough to play. It will be a challenge for us and we've got to find a way to see if we can win the game but yes, I do want our guys to work hard and know there's a lot to play for.
Q. David Blough talked last week about how he felt like he was in a position to bounce back from what he called a poor performance against Michigan State. What did you see from him in terms of bouncing back?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I thought David played a good game. Really, you take away two throws, and he played outstanding. He made some big throws up the field and he moved around and made a few plays with his feet, which he has to do for us, I mean, has to do.
Every game's not going to be perfect. The first interception, we didn't block it great and he threw it into coverage and got hit. He shouldn't have done it. He should have thrown it away, found a way to run, or take the sack.
The second one, he just tried to get it out too fast and force it down the middle, which he can't have, but you know what take away those two, he did a great job.
He worked extremely hard last week. He's a great leader. I think he can continue to learn from his mistakes. He's got to understand, to win football games, we can't turn the ball over. We've got to be great at that.
He had a great run where he was, and we've had a few games here now where he's had some turnovers, so we've got to work at it. We have to continue to work at in practice, put some pressure on him in practice. We did a lot more things in practice where instead of scale your seven-on-seven, we had the team pads, we had the line over, getting a pass rush in front of him while he's making all the throws every time we're on the field, and I think that helped train him a little bit. Every little thing matters, but I know he'll work hard this week to go out and play a good game.
Q. He took off running a couple times and you talked about how you needed to see that from him. Is that a positive step from him?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: It's positive. I think when he was playing extremely well a couple games ago, when he had that good run of games, he was running the football and he was getting his first downs. On third down, he was aware of it and he wasn't forced in coverage.
I try to tell him every game: You're going to have about three to five runs where you're going to have to make a play with your feet because it's not open; the protection didn't work; the play didn't work as they thought it would; they gave us a different look, and you have to be trained to make those decisions and know when to pull it down and run. Know when to pull it down and keep your eyes up the field, and maybe make a throw on a scramble.
But definitely don't throw into coverage and turn the ball over. We work a scramble drill, too, every week and hopefully all those things matter. You just have to keep training it as hard as you can and he has to be aware of it, but yet still be aggressive and still be able to take one-on-one matchups.
Q. Your special teams units gave up a couple long returns. Is that something that's a concern or how do you address that?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes, it's a concern. We talked about it. There's some things that we need to schematically change up a little bit and I think we're on top of that. We've identified it but yeah, we've got to be better in covering on the kickoffs.
We're giving up -- the lanes are a little bit too big in certain areas and we have to make sure we're doing that and have to make sure we're blocking on PAT field goal and being firm in that protection and making sure nothing happens with that. You know, we'd like to find a way to get a few more return yardage on kickoffs and that hasn't been as good as we'd like.
We did get some yards on the punt return, so that was progress, but yeah, we've definitely identified where we haven't been as strong and we're working hard to get those things fixed.
Q. How about in terms of, when you got here, obviously you had to work on the product on the field, but also maybe fans were a little bit disinterested. We saw again another time where the fans rushed the field for the third time in four home victories, which maybe speaks to the excitement level. What have you done in terms of trying to get fans interested again who maybe weren't interested for a while?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I don't think it's a magic formula. I think for us, you know, this is our football team, but it's our university, and really, it's everybody's team, the communities team and all the fans team and we want everybody to feel a part of it.
I think the way you do that is you do your part to be active and out in the community as much as you can, but, you play the game the way it's supposed to be played and I think people and fans like to see teams play hard. They like to see teams play with passion. They like to see teams that play to win, that have a fighting, competitive spirit when they are on the field and I think if you provide that element, people want to watch it and people want to come watch you play.
What we talk to our guys all the time about all the time, to be quite honest, we don't worry about the score. For 60 minutes, you take the field, you ut all this training in all year long, all week long, there's no reason not to give it everything you have.
And if you do, that people will like watching you play, they will get behind you and they will support you, and you're not going to win them all but you're probably going to win more than you think you can. So we just try to make sure we're doing our part to make the game exciting, fun to watch and that when people watch us, they see us giving great effort and they see our guys into the game, wanting to do everything we can to play to win.
Q. As look ahead to Minnesota, they had a change on their staff on the defensive side. How will that affect preparation for you guys, maybe because you don't know exactly what to expect there?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, without question, the uncertainty and the unknown is a little bit of a factor and you have to make sure you understand that, and they can do some things they haven't done before, and they can maybe change a little or they can maybe change a lot. So you have to be prepared for that. The only thing we have going for us a little bit is we go against our guys on defense. They can give us every look known to man.
So we think we have a decent plan for every different thing we can see, but yes, not being able to truly watch film and know exactly what they are going to do and what they have done in the past and will it carry over is a concern. You have to make sure that you're prepared for that, and you have answers to things that could pop up.
Q. How do you approach getting to win No. 6 in year two and how it might be different in year No. 1? You've talked before about how you want this to be a regular team and there are certain teams that get to Bowl games every year, and it's a natural thing?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I want our guys to understand, this is an extremely important week. It's the most important game, really, because it's the next game but it's an important game. We've got to do everything in our power this week to be the hungrier team in practice, prepare like we've never prepared before, by giving just a little bit more effort from all of us, head coach, coaches and players, so that when we take the field, we feel like we're prepared to go, and then we can just cut it loose and see what happens. But this is a very important week for us and a very important game.
Q. You've talked before about the margin of error being very, very thin with your team in order to win and to lose, but you've also acknowledged that you probably didn't play your best game against Iowa and yet you beat a top 20 program. How do you approach this week in practice when you know you have things to correct but you're doing it off of a win, a big win?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, like I said, against Ohio State, we had a great win for our program; the next week, we didn't play like we can play. Things have happened this year that have been great learning experiences. We started 0-3 and lost to some teams maybe we shouldn't have lost to; we weren't aggressive in our approach; we didn't go for the win; we played not to lose at times; we made critical mistakes that hurt us; won at Ohio State and came back the next week and didn't play well.
There's a lot of learning experiences that we can go over; that's been the positive to a certain degree because we've had numerous things to grow and learn from. And yes, we have to grow and learn from this experience, which is how do you handle a win, a good, solid win, and be able to come out the next week and play even better.
Q. Injury concerns. I know Gio came back in the game after being helped off the field, but did you have any kind of big-time injuries come out of Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know what actually I thought we would have more issues than we did after looking at it, Giovanni was able to come back in and play.
Now we'll monitor him this week and see how he progresses. I'm optimistic that he'll play. Got to continue to get Rondale as healthy as we can. Trying to think, there might be a few other things that our guys are held out a little bit but I'm hopeful and optimistic that everyone should be back for the game as far as I know.
Q. Is there any chance Grant could be back for the bucket game? Is that even on the table?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: No.
Q. Your thoughts on the defensive performance in the sense that it does seem like you got into the running game a little bit and were kind of able to affect the quarterback in the second half and make adjustments?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I thought our coaches and our guys gave us everything they could give us and Iowa is a good football team. They are good up front. They could come off the ball and block. They had gig guys and we were doing everything we can to stop the run and they were still able to run it a little bit.
When you do that, you have -- a little more susceptible to the pass. I do think we challenged routes better on the outside. Didn't give them as much. They hit the tight end on some plays, which they have got good tight ends, and they did a very good job of that.
So we've got to shore that up a little bit, but I do think our guys played hard. It wasn't a perfect game. But on special teams and offense, it wasn't, either, but they played hard and we were trying to do different things and make adjustments and give them different looks to do our part as coaches, which I think helped, and we stayed in it, and luckily, for us, they stayed in it and the last drive where we stopped them, even though we had some help on penalties, our guys got us the ball back and that helped us win the game.
Q. They have the Big Ten leader in sacks but nobody else on the team has more than one. How do you go about maybe treating him like a highlighted player where David and Kirk are pointing out where 45 is pretty much on every play?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, you definitely have to be aware when you're in some protections. You know, the one-on-one matchups, he did a great job of beating. What he is, is a fast, quick rusher. He has great athleticism, and I think he beats a lot of big guys with his speed.
So when we have a back, he's got to be aware if he's to the side. We've got to be chipping on the way out. We've got to make sure that he understands that he can't just run around the edge. We've got to slide the protection to him some. He is a very, very productive player, and he's created half being on a lot of good teams, a lot of good players, and yes, we have to be aware every time where he's at.
Q. Back to Grant. Was that an injury that happened in a game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: No. Unfortunately during practice last week it happened.
Q. When did he have surgery?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Friday morning and it was hopeful to try to get him back as healthy as he can as soon as he can. But you know -- I don't know the official timetable. I'm going to guess it's going to be a good, solid four weeks, but that could change to a little more possibly.
Q. Same knee as the ACL?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes. It was more of a meniscus in the front that isn't as common. Kind of a freak thing that happened that he had to get shored up.
Q. Is there a chance that he -- if you guys qualify for a Bowl game or an extra game that next week, would he be available?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Like I said, I think four weeks is the time table we've been given. Probably not any faster than that, but I would not think much longer.
Q. Before the game last week, you said Herdman was probably questionable at best, but he was able to get out there. So do you feel like he's going to be good to go this week?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You talking about Cole?
Q. Cole Herdman, and I think D.J. had something on his hand.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know what Cole is a tough young man. He gives us everything he has. He's experienced some issues with some upper extremities that we're trying to just get him healthy to the game. They flare-up quite a bit, so at any given time, it can happen and he'll have to come out.
So we have to police it and make sure we understand what he's got and like I said, get him as healthy as we can while get him some work and then monitor him during the game.
D.J. was able to come back in. He got some X-rays and MRIs and we don't have the full results on that. I am optimistic, unless we see something more than we think, that he should be able to play.
Q. Back to the previous question about Minnesota making the change on their coaching staff. Illinois had a change but that came at the end of the year. Internally what happens to a staff or a team when coaching changes are made like that in the middle of the season, or you still have a game? What things from your standpoint have you learned about that that you can prepare your team for this week?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think every situation's different, so it's hard for me to comment on theirs. I don't understand the full dynamics of everything other than they changed their defensive coordinator.
You know, for us, there's going to be a little bit of an unknown, uncertainty that you've got to prepare for. I wouldn't think they would change drastically but there is change. That's why it was made. Whether they are going to be more aggressive or whether they are going to keep it front of them and bend-but-don't-break or whether they are going to blitz more or change everything, you know, I don't anticipate that, but I would expect some changes.
Fortunately like I said, we prepare against their defense. They run everything you can think of. I think that's beneficial. We practice against it. You know, a lot of things can happen. This team can rally and they can play great for their new coach who they love and things are going great, or we can come out and we can play well.
Playing an away game, they are going to have a lot of emotion. I'm sure they are going to try to play extremely hard for their new defensive coordinator. It's important game for them, and when you're coming off a game maybe you think you should have played better, you normally prepare very well. So we will have our hands full.
The last time I was there has an assistant, I got blown off the field, so I didn't have a good experience at the stadium, so we have to do our part and get ready to play.
Q. I think Missouri did the same thing prior to playing you guys last year. Is that right?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know, you are correct. Fortunately for us that, one worked out for us.
This team has played a lot of football. They started the season very well. They had some tough opponents and obviously last week didn't go the way they wanted, but that's football. We all have weeks where things don't go the way we want, and I'm sure they will respond. They are well-coached and they will come out ready to play.
Q. With Hermanns out and with Swingler at left tackle, who is next up on the tackle depth chart who could play either right or left?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Probably Michael MÃ©ndez is up next, Ethan Smart is behind him and then we have some freshmen that we have to play. Mark Stickford would be the next one up.
All those guys are ready to go. You know, I think Eric has a great demeanor when he takes the field and he wants to be out there and compete and it means a lot to him. So we're going to give him every opportunity to showcase what he can do on the field, also.
Q. How did he grade out of Saturday's game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know what, he did a pretty good job. There were times -- we watched the film, really on first or second down, these D-Linemen who were very good were more run stoppers. This he didn't really rush as many and they made it easier for us to be quite honest.
So that's why throwing on first and second down, we had some success. They weren't pinning their ears back.
On third down, when they were expecting pass, they were tough to block. And he gave us great effort. When he got his hands and feet in front of him, he did a decent job. But you know, it's not ever going to be perfect, but I thought he competed and did a good job and for us, you know, he played well.
Q. I wanted to ask you, you threw the ball successfully on first and second down and probably scored all your touchdowns on first and second down to end the big plays, was that a self-scouting thing that you went into with last week wanting to change or was that something you thought that you could get from Iowa's defense early in the downs?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: To be quite honest, it's a combination of a lot of things, but you know, like I said, they probably played the run even more so on first and second down than I thought they would, going against us. We didn't think we could run the ball very well against them when we tried.
It wasn't going to be something we were going to get big chunks of yards and we felt we needed to create big plays against this team. We thought they would probably score. We thought they would get some points. We did feel going into the game, from an offensive side of the ball, we needed to score at least 30 to win.
So to do that against a team that had not given up a whole lot of points, we're going to have to be a little more aggressive and make sure we took some shots and one-on-one matchups, when we looked at our game the year before, we hit three deep shots and one scramble, and only than that we didn't really do much.
So we knew we had to create a few of those because to work this thing down the field on this opponent, doesn't happen as much as others, and they are very stout. So fortunately for us, we already hit some of those.
Q. You mentioned the potential cold weather coming up Saturday. How do you address your team with that or is it something better left unsaid?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we have to make sure we're practicing outside. We're in the elements. It won't be as cold here as it's going to be on Saturday.
Nothing more than letting them know it's going to be cold and you've got to go out there and execute and keep yourself warm and play football. I mean, this time of the year, wherever you're at, you could have some possible cold games. Obviously going to Minnesota in November, it's going to be cold, and you have to react to it and hopefully our guys can respond.
Q. You mentioned the D-Line and how they were able to fill in when Gio went out. When he was out, you were able to rotate some young guys in there. How much more comfortable are you after Saturday on just the depth of that unit?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I'll say this, we talk every week about playing more guys and getting them opportunities. I think we're getting better. I think our guys are working hard. When we take Gio and Kai Higgins out, we can sometimes put Derrick Barnes in there.
The other guys behind him, while they are getting better, they are not where -- you know, we would like them to be at this point, even though they are progressing, and I think they are working hard.
So to be able to just rotate freely, we're not doing our team justice because there's a little bit of a drop off. We've got to make sure we continue to improve that and get those guys so that we feel comfortable. Now, we've got to rotate there as much as we can. Certain guys can't play 80-plus snaps. That's hard to do. The best teams in the country, you don't do that. There's no way. You've got to have more guys and you've got to rotate guys in there.
So we're going to continue to work on it and we want guys to show us in practice we're ready to go and when they get in the game, they have got to produce for us and they have got to be firm and strong and sound in what they are doing, but we still have a ways to improve there.
Q. On the other side of the ball, Coach Shepherd last week was saying how the wide receiver room is this mixed bag of personalities, somebody like Rondale on one side, and Wright on other, where it be sort of like a mixed bag. How do you as a coach manage -- because every player is different, but these different personalities all in one group in one room?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: That's typical receiver room. You know, to be quite honest with you, that's one of the things I think we do the best. I encourage everyone's personality. It's always going to be different. We want them to play to whoever their personality is. We don't make them play a certain way.
Now, they understand we want them to play tough and we want them to play to win. We want them to compete, and we're going to be intense on the sideline and intense in the game. As long as they can handle that I don't care if they talk a lot or if they don't say a peep.
But yes, we do have a bunch of different personalities, and you coach them and you try to get the best out of them, but that's kind of on every team, but definitely the receiver position is always like that. I think our guys have worked hard. I think they have improved.
They have helped us make plays to see Terry Wright step in and make some great plays was great to see. Isaac doubt a touchdown for us. We were not able to unleash Rondale as much but he was a little banged up. Jared didn't get as many opportunities, but he's continued to improve.
We feel like they are working hard. We work hard during the week at catching deep balls, throwing deep balls, one-on-one matchups, one-on-one vs. press coverage and trying to get off and all those things. I mean, we spend the time in it.
I think that's one of the reasons Anthony was able to improve so much last year, even though he does a lot on his own as well we worked at it. It's great when you see guys emerge because the hard work in my opinion has paid off. But you know, we still have a ways to go, but I do like the fact that they work hard.
Q. You mentioned Rondale is a little banged up. Obviously draws a lot of attention from defenses but can he be used even as a decoy where he's out there but even if he's not 100 percent, you can still use him to draw attention and divert some eyes?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Without question he helps our offense a lot of ways, whether he gets the ball or not, he's going to demand the attention of the defense, whether that's from a stationary position or put him in motion and you get their eyes on him, it definitely helps our offense and other guys get open.
Q. Last thing from me, just to follow up Eric filling in for Grant. David mentioned -- I mean, he's obviously happy, he's good friends with Eric; there's a level of familiarity of chemistry between those two as roommates both as seniors. Is that an added element that could help him mesh with the line even quicker having to fill in halfway through the season because he's so familiar with David and they can call each other out?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, Eric has played a lot of football for us. Played a lot last year when Grant went down. I think Eric takes a lot of pride when he takes the field in wanting to do well, and he's got some nastiness (ph) to him; and the fact that his buddy is back there he's protecting for him, I'm sure he's going to go above and beyond to get it done.
So that we're don't worry about. We're not concerned about his work ethic and whether he wants to win. He's going to give us everything he has. It's just a matter of doing the small things with him, paying attention to small details. Having that intensity and fire all the time because he does play better with that. But I like taking the field when he's out there. I know that he's going to play hard and go the extra mile in order to try to help us win.
Q. After the game on Saturday, heard Terry had a frustrating, pouty Friday walk-through. Being a former player yourself, is that more typical than we think that a guy looks lost, has a terrible Friday and goes out and shows out on Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, Terry is an emotional guy. Got a high tone to his voice. He talks a lot, and he can be up and down, maybe a little more so than others. But he's a great young man and he has a great personality, and he does have some highs and lows. So I'm sure he was maybe having a little tantrum or something wasn't going his way and he was upset. Luckily we got him back on track.
You'll have quite a few of those personalities. Terry, really, is a lot of fun to be around. He's a lot of fun to hang out with off the field. He's always got a smile on his face. He's got great qualities. But yeah, the emotional side, everyone is different and he definitely is an emotional young man.
When he's locked in and playing hard -- which whatever happened to him before the game, during the game, he was locked in. Even when he played well, he didn't over-celebrate. He didn't overly get him going and bounce around. He was able to keep it under control, which is what we need. I thought he made great progress and had a great game for us.
Q. Quick recruiting question. With the game day environment at your place, what it's become, and the early signing period now, what's that done to your stance on in-season official visits, if you had one in the first place?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, every year you're going to have to take some in-season official visits. Some guys want to see the atmosphere and the environment that you have there, and definitely without question, our fans have done a tremendous job of helping us in that and we've had multiple visitors throughout the season and the last few games they have been at is outstanding. So it's been more than beneficial. Definitely helped.
You know, what happens when they come during the season, during game day compared to after, is you're not able to spend that much time with them because you're getting your team ready to play and you're trying hard to win. That's the only downfall. After the season in the month of December, you're able to spend 48 hours with them nonstop and they can be around the players, and a little more relaxing where they can enjoy it.
But everyone's different. You decide early now and people want to see the atmosphere and experience, but without question, it's been tremendous this year, and that's a credit to our fans.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports