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November 19, 2018

Jeff Brohm

West Lafayette, Indiana

HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Very exciting week for us, get to play a rival team at their place with everything on the line. I think our guys should have a good week of practice and understand that it's a winner-take-all game, and it's one of those games that you really dream about playing in against a very good opponent.

Coach Allen has his team playing very well. They were up on Michigan in the second half and they have won some games here lately, and they have played some tough football.

So we'll have our hands full. We're going have to play well on both sides of the ball. We're going to have to find ways to get a lead. We're going to have to find ways finish if we have it. Find ways to create turnovers. Find ways to make big plays.

And at the same time eliminate big plays, also. So you know, it will be a tough football game, and we've got to come ready to play and have a good week of practice.

Q. You talk all the time about the one-game season and now it is really is a one-game season. Do you think that mentality has prepared you for this type of a game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I would hope. So I think our guys understand that that's how we treat every season, every game.

We've had our chances in quite a few games this year. Haven't been able to finish, and then for the most part we've responded.

I do like the way we responded this past week after a bad loss and I thought our guys, you know, got us in position to have a chance to win. We just couldn't close the game out.

So we've got to figure out ways to do that better, but I think our guys will get back to work this week and understand that this is a game that means a lot to our school and to our fan base, and we've got to go out and try to find a way to win it.

Q. Last year was similar stakes, but that time, you were going in with a two-game winning streak, a little bit of momentum. How do you create momentum now when you're in the opposite situation?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it is a different situation. We haven't been able to win the last two, and you know, you've just got to go back to the drawing board and realize that it is a one-game season and figure out where we made mistakes and what we can correct and put our players in the best position to succeed and win.

And when you go on the road it's going to be tougher. So we've got to overcome any of the away -- our opponents own away-game environment, and play like our backs are against the wall and come out and play tough, physical football and see if we can figure out a way to win.

Q. What have you learned about the rivalry in the last year?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think it's a great rivalry, especially for the fan base, especially for the people in the State of Indiana. I think both teams are trying hard to work their way up the ladder.

You know, it's looking like every year, you know, it's always going to come down to this game, unless someone is having an outstanding year. I know both teams are trying to get to that level. I know Indiana has been to quite a few Bowl games lately.

We've just got to continue to fight through it just like I'm sure they are, and it's an important game for both of us.

I think it will be a tough matchup and all the small things will matter, but it's going to be a fun game to play in, and a lot of our players probably know each other a little bit and they have to go out there and compete and figure out a way to win.

Q. I was curious, a couple health questions. Cornel Jones, how is he doing?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think Cornel will be fine. You know, he's had some good moments this year and some other times where you'd like to see him play more physical and play downhill, play more sudden, but I think he'll respond.

He has a bright future. He's just got to continue to play with great intensity and try to be a dominating player at that position.

Q. Was the decision to take him out then performance-based, or was it based on being nicked up a little bit?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, he has been nicked up a little bit now. Could be a combination of both.

But no, he's been nicked up, but he's fought through those slight injuries. But I think he'll be okay for this game.

Q. Keiwan Jones, I think he limped off the field at one point.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think he'll be okay. Anthony Watts didn't get to practice much last week, so Keiwan played a little bit more this past week.

We'd like to get Anthony back on the field. When he's in there, I think when he's doing everything right, Lorenzo Neal is our most productive disruptive guy on the front. And then Anthony watts, when he's healthy and going full speed, is next.

But we've got to make sure that we get him back playing hard and get him healthy and at the same time rotate a little bit. Keiwan has done many good things, but we've got to get Anthony where he's making plays for us.

Q. With Thanksgiving coming up, I heard there used to be some competitive Turkey Bowl football games at the Brohm household. Is that true?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: There used to be some very competitive football games, but it hasn't happened in a while. But yes, growing up that was the tradition.

Started out as full-fledged tackle football game, and once we got to the high school age, emerged a two-hand touch with some extra hitting on the side.

Was always played before you ate the Thanksgiving lunch, and you know, awards were given out, trophies were presented, and it was always a good time.

Q. Did you take home most of those trophies?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, you know, we had a little fun with it. Obviously my father still thinks he can play quarterback, and he always for some reason knew his stats after the game, which we thought were very inflated, because we had the video. Whether he deserved it or not, we gave out an MVP every year. We gave out an LVP for the Least Valuable, and just by vote-of-all, he always got there whether he won or not.

Q. So you would videotape it, so you would watch the film?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Oh, yeah. We've got all the videos of all the games. Really, the last true game, unfortunately my dad went out with some punctured lungs and had to go to the hospital. I don't think him and my uncle talked for a couple months, maybe even a half-year, but they eventually got over it. But it calmed down a little bit from there.

Q. How do you look at the run game right now and what would you like? Is it where you want it to be, or is it kind of lagging where you are in the passing game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: With the run game has to be a combination of a lot of things. I think who you're going against, what you have up front, what you think you have to do to win, all matters.

So you know, we could sit here and try to run the ball as much as we can. I don't think we're going to win games at this point with where we're at and our personnel. I think we've just got to continue to work hard and get better at that.

We've got to set up the run by passing the football and being efficient at that. You know, every possession is valuable, and you know, if we don't take advantage of every possession, I don't think we can win at the stage we're at and that's why we are probably a little more aggressive.

Also, our defense has done some good things, and other times, it has not performed as well as we'd like.

So you've got to -- we're just trying to find ways to win and in the end, we'd like to always have great balance, but we want to make sure that we're erring on the aggressive side.

Q. Do you look back at Saturday -- you kind of said it -- but a missed opportunity on both sides of the ball, whether it was defense that couldn't close it out, or offense that really couldn't close it out in that last quarter?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it's a combination of all those things. Yeah, you'd like to win a game; you're up by 14 in the fourth quarter.

It's a good football team, and bottom line is, we weren't good enough to win, you know, but we had plenty of chances to get over the hump and get it done but we couldn't close out the deal. Couldn't get stops when we needed to. Couldn't convert key situation on offense when we needed to, and you know, because of that, they got momentum towards the end and they found a way to win.

You know, the good thing is, I think we're getting closer. I think we've had opportunities to get some more big wins, but we're just obviously not quite there if we're not getting it done on all fronts.

But I think as we continue to work at it, hopefully we can make some gradual strides and improve and figure out ways to get that done.

But you know, bottom line is, you've got to find ways to win games, especially when you're in control of it and we did not do that.

Q. How do you evaluate Jaylan Alexander, a freshman that's played a lot for you and had to play a lot on Saturday, and it seems like he's kind of progressed each and every practice, each and every game.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Right now the linebacker position, we don't have the depth we want. That's hurt us. Not going to lie. Jaylan is a true freshman that's going to be a very, very good football player, and he's gotten better and he's done some good things.

Now is he where you'd like for him to be at instinctively and knowing what's gone on and attacking downhill? No, not all the time. But we think he has that ability and we think he's a great worker, and he's working hard can doing the best he can.

So we like the production he's given us as a true freshman, and we just have to build that position up around him and make sure we're getting better.

Q. Is the idea that Bryson didn't have a target on Saturday more of what Wisconsin gave you defensively, or a combination of a lot of things?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it's a lot of things. I think if you really look at the video, we're getting the ball out fast, I mean real fast. You know, sometimes while our offensive line is doing a good job; a couple times they touched no one, but we got the ball out.

So we've got to make sure we get the ball out quick. It's keeping David clean as much as we can, is a huge advantage, especially for what he's good at. It's important not to get him hit a lot and not to get a rush in his face. If he doesn't, that's not his strength; now, he's gotten better at it.

So sometimes you've got to be able to throw the second level with tight ends. They are sitting on everything in the middle on the tight ends. We had a few opportunities to hit some seams and a couple end cuts, and we couldn't get to the second level, whether it was our quarterback or protection, and that's been quite frequent this year.

You know, David is good at getting the ball out fast; if you can his first progression open, he's good at attacking it. If you can get him in a rhythm and you can get him to one-on-one matchups, he's very good at that. You know, figuring out ways to read defenses and drop back and let it all develop, and trust the protection and hang in there; okay, that's probably not his strength; now we work hard at it.

So because of that, yeah, I was disappointed. Everywhere I've been, we get the ball to the tight ends quite a bit, and I came out of the game knowing that that didn't happen. About five or six times we tried. For whatever reason, it wasn't thrown to him and we've got to continue to work hard at that.

I think that, you know, you factor in your quarterback, what you have up front, where you're at, what you need to do, what the defense is playing, all those things matter.

I do think we were being productive creating big plays on the outside. We were getting the ball out quick quite a bit. We were cutting their defensive line quite a bit to try to slow them down. So those things were effective quite a bit, but yes, I'd like to get the ball to the tight end more.

Q. Circling back to the run game. Can the screen game become a complementary piece to what you do in the pass game, as almost a pseudo run? Because it seems like that was working on Saturday pretty well.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We definitely came into the game thinking we needed to do something misdirectionally to take their eyes off of their keys, and with Rondale and the motion that we can provide with him and occasionally hand it off, occasionally not, occasionally throwing a screen, occasionally throwing a playaction, all those things helped us.

I think we got some really good slow screens off of that action, but I think the misdirection of it all helped it get open. Quite honest, we ran one regular slow screen you do the traditional way, and it was a five-yard loss.

We've got to be creative in how we do these things, but I do think we found a way to get him the ball behind the line of scrimmage. They got some production in that screen game, but we've got to be creative with it.

Q. This could be the last game for a lot of seniors on this team. Are you seeing them approach this week with a different mentality?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think we approached last week with a great mentality. Our guys, being the last home game, wanted to win. They worked hard. We had a good week of practice, and I'm sure they are going to approach it the same way this week.

I think, you know, an opportunity to advance, an opportunity to beat your rival, with one week left, if you're not excited to go to work with that, you don't deserve to win.

But I think our guys will come to work hard, and they will put in great effort and we'll make it fun for them and we'll compete out there to get better and do the best job we can to put them in position to succeed.

Hopefully they take the field confident, cut it loose, and we figure out a way to win in the end. But it will be a tough football game.

Q. How much do you lean on last year's experience in this type of game where you did win it, and the guys that are back understand the ramifications of what's going to happen Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we'll watch the video, and I think last year, to be quite honest with you, the breaks went our way. We created some turnovers early. We capitalized on it. We got a lead and then we hung on till the end.

Doesn't always work that way. I would love for the game to go that way again, but I would anticipate these guys being ready to play, understanding that, you know, they watch the film as well.

They don't want to get in a deficit; so they are going to try to be firing on cylinders, take care of the ball, attack us on the defensive side and try to get a lead themselves. Obviously, that matters. Going on the road. I'm sure they are going to feel more comfortable playing at home.

We had a great crowd last year that was into it that helped us win the game quite honestly, so this will be a knock-down, drag-out football game that the toughest team will survive and win.

Q. Back to Saturday for one moment. Obviously not going for it at the end of the second overtime has been debated, and other decisions. When you make that decision, is that something you let go quickly after the game or do you -- are you a coach that rehashes that in your mind a little bit? And at what point do you let it go and move on to the next week?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know, I don't know if I've rehashed going for a two-point decision a whole lot. There's some other things we'd like to do better and different quite frankly.

You know, sometimes when you're at home, you're a little more comfortable playing the thing out. On the road, for sure, we're more open for going for two early.

You know, when you look back with the momentum they had, yeah, maybe we should go for two. But at the same time, we've been down in there twice. Tried to pass it one time, a couple times in a row, and what I thought was, in my opinion, holding, on our receivers; and we don't get open enough, we don't make the play, which they allow more holding down there. So that didn't work, and we tried to run it two straight times. That didn't work.

So no, I didn't have a whole lot of confidence that, you know, we for sure would get this done.

Now we could have rolled the dice, but I don't think I rehashed that one as much as guys giving up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter is disappointing.

Q. When you went back and watched the Zico reception that they overturned, what did you see from the film? Did anything show you that that play should have been --
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, if you're asking my opinion, that's a catch. If you look at the TV copy, it happens right on their sideline. Not one coach or one player debates that the ball wasn't caught, standing right there in front of it. The referee doesn't debate it one bit, as well.

So what I thought was a review to question the spot by them, or review upstairs to question a spot turned into an incomplete pass, which caught me totally off-guard.

So no, after reviewing the video, if you're asking my opinion, I don't get that whatsoever, and it's very disappointing to be quite honest.

Q. Were you going to go for it then on fourth down?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes, we were going for it. Now, could we have possibly tried to kick it, you know, if we had a perfect scenario? Maybe, but we were probably going to go for it.

Q. When you look at Rondale's two touchdowns on Saturday, where does that rank in his highlight reel this year?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it ranks right up there because they were two great plays against great opponents. I mean, these aren't cupcake teams he's going against. This is a very good defense that hasn't given up hardly any touchdown passes all year, and they shut us down totally the year before.

You know, he caught one ball up the seam. Made a great move to get open when the guy was pressed on him. Made the free safety miss, spun out of it, like it was just another play.

Second one, we had ran that screen a few times when they actually played off of him. Made a good catch. We actually did get some good blocks, and then you know, he just lowers his pads and he bounces off tackles and he doesn't go to the ground. And there's probably three or four, maybe even five guys that either hit him or got something on him, and he doesn't even fall in the end zone. I mean, he runs in the end zone.

Very impressive. Just an extremely strong, talented receiver that, yes, those were remarkable plays that I don't know who else could have made them.

Q. You face a different kind of running back this week than you did last week with Stevie Scott from IU. What stands out about him?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, this team is going to spread you out more, and they are going to give him a little more lanes to run. They are going to throw the ball a little more than we've seen.

We've got to do a good job. It's important that we contain him. It's important that we don't give up the easy completions. You know, we gave up a couple really big plays last week that were disappointing so we've got to eliminate those.

It's important that we don't just give him easy one-on-one matchups and attack a certain player over and over again. We've got to mix some things up coverage-wise and make sure that we're taking care of our guys.

They are going to spread the field and hand it to him, let him do his thing and then throw it off of him. They do a very good job. Their quarterback plays very efficient football. He's the son of a coach, a very good coach in Cincinnati.

He understands the game, and we're going to have to figure out a way to create a little pressure and confuse him and throw him off a little bit because if he's comfortable, he'll do a very good job against us.

Q. Since the Missouri game, you've played one quarterback for a couple different reasons. How much does playing one quarterback maybe helped him settle into his role, and is that any kind of by-product of what's happened with his performance?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I'm sure there's probably a small factor in that. You know, it was great to see him respond after not one of his better performances which was not a great performance by our whole team, either. But he responded and came back and played efficient football and got completions, made big throws up the field, was accurate, threw touchdown passes. You know, played tough in my opinion, and gave us a chance to win.

I'm sure he wants to go out on a good note, and we want to put some pressure on this week. I told him all along: You're better when your back is against the wall and you're better when I'm making sure you understand your back is against the wall, in a nice way, and sometimes not in a nice way.

And so we're going to work hard this week, put pressure on him and let him know that he's got to play tough and be a difference-maker for us in order for us to win.

But I think he'll give us everything he has, like he has all year and I'm hopeful that he can play a very good game for us.

Q. You mentioned earlier that David, sometimes the protection has not been there, and so he's getting the ball out quickly. In terms of you haven't moved the pocket too much, could moving the pocket help him get deeper into his progressions, or is that something that's maybe not his strength?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Even when we've gotten out quick, we didn't block as well as we should have; but didn't matter, the ball is coming out quick by design.

We moved the pocket a couple times the last game. One time we got a PI. One time he had to throw it away because we still got pressure. Another time, in my opinion, they were holding Rondale and he had to check it down underneath.

You've still got to block to move the pocket. We tried to push the pocket to throw it downfield a couple times -- actually another time it was covered and he had to throw it away.

So yeah, we need to be creative and figure out ways to get it down the field, but you know, that was good defense and they did a good job of taking away some of the deep shots. Then we had some opportunities on a couple post patterns to Rondale that we just slightly missed. But he hit some throws up the field. He hit some deep throws down the sideline that were great throws.

Yes, as creative as we can be to find ways to hit the second level, we need to try to do, if we can.

Q. You mentioned before the season, maybe add Media Day, that you set the over/under at 50 for trick plays. Going into the last regular-season game, I don't think you're there yet, but is that something we could see sort of play out?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: No, I don't think we'll get to that number. We haven't been as efficient this year doing it. We had the swinging gate in this past week and we actually scrambled and made a play, but they had it covered. For the most part we did a guy open in the flap but he really wasn't one of the main reads.

So a lot of teams are playing that a little bit more, and that's fine. That's the way it's going to be. At least they are going to practice it and work on it.

But yes, we would like to have been more efficient on some of these, and it has not been as productive this year. But we'll have a few for sure ready to go, and we'll see how they are playing us.

I know last year, we just watched the video again, we tried to flea flicker. They were definitely playing it. But we'll do what we can to figure out ways to see if we can create something that will work.

Q. Does it help that even if you're not using trick plays necessarily, but just the misdirection pre-snap that Rondale and some of the other guys moving across can bring to you? Not a trick play necessarily but that is some sort of misdirection.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we were much better at misdirection this past game, and we made a point to try to do that and I think it made a difference.

I think even going back to the Ohio State game in the second half we utilized that and it made a difference. We have to make sure of it all and make sure that we're using everything in the arsenal to try to win.

Q. Last thing from me. You mentioned Rondale's two touchdowns. That spin move where he caught it over the top, does that just show you the football instinct that maybe you saw originally in high school sort of play out at this level?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes, it did. I mean, you guys saw it. It was a great play. I don't know many people that could make that play. He's going up the seam. He does a great job getting open in the first spot. The guy had heavy outside leverage, he made a move, got up the field fast. David saw it, put it right on him. It was a good, accurate throw which helps.

David did a good job looking the free safety off to get a little more room to make the catch, and then after the catch, he saw him coming. And he's great in open space. So if you can get him the ball in rhythm and give him some open space, he's going to make a lot of guys miss.

So it doesn't surprise me one bit he made it. Do I think many other people could have made that move? No, they couldn't have. You know, he stays on his feet when he makes moves. He doesn't go down when he gets hit hardly. He's just a strong, athletic, talented player that we knew would make a difference. And he's made a big difference for us.

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