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December 2, 2018

Jeff Brohm

Jacob Thieneman

DJ Knox

David Blough

West Lafayette, Indiana

HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: It's great to be advancing, as you guys know, to a Bowl game. We're excited to be selected for the Music City Bowl. It's a great opportunity for our football team, for our fans, to showcase what we're all about and travel down south for what we think is a festive, exciting place to be in Nashville, Tennessee around Christmas holidays.

I think it will be a lot of fun for a lot of people and hopefully we can go out there and put on a good performance and try to play extremely well and give ourselves a chance to win. I know we're excited to get back to work here and prepare for our opponent, who will be the Auburn Tigers, and tough SEC team that we're going to have to have a great preparation and play extremely well to give ourselves a chance to win.

But it is a great opportunity to play a great football team in a great setting, and I know playing in an NFL stadium will be great for our guys, as well, and we're looking forward to it.

Q. Before we ask you about the Bowl game, what have the last couple weeks been like for you, and what went into your final decision to ultimately stay at Purdue?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it seems like it's been a month ago. You know what, you deal with the situation when it comes up the best you can. That's what I tried to do. Tried to make the best decision. I'm excited about our future here and ready to move forward.

Q. Was there a moment for you that was especially difficult, or did you ever feel as if you were leaning more towards one direction or the other?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think any time you talk about your alma mater, a school that you played at, a place that you live, I know a lot of family and friend that are there. That's what makes it difficult.

So without question, there were things to it that made it extremely hard, but you know, I did what I did, I think you guys know for all the right reasons, and I'm excited to move forward.

Q. David, how did you find out Jeff was staying and what was your reaction?
DAVID BLOUGH: Just like all the guys, news broke to us at dinner and we're obviously excited where Purdue has gone the last two years and what Coach Brohm has in store for the future.

For all the guys, it's a big deal for us. We understand the commitment by the athletic department and that's a great credit to our administration. We're happy for the guys because we know with Coach Brohm at the helm where the program can go, and you know, make it a standard for Purdue to be going back to Bowl games and hopefully playing on Championship Saturday that we saw yesterday mand we know those things are possible with Coach Brohm at the helm.

You know, the guys are excited. We were obviously following the stuff just like you guys were, and it was fun for us to see, and know that he's committed to us as we are. That was never in question, but we're glad Coach Brohm is a Boilermaker, we really are.

Q. Now I'll ask you a football question. What's the process preparing for Auburn? I assume it's a little different than a regular-season game.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We're excited about it. I think we knew if we got the chance to participate in the Music City Bowl, it was going to be a tough opponent and that's what makes this great is we've got a great challenge ahead. We're definitely going to have to prepare well and play well and give our best, but that's all you can ask for.

When you go to a Bowl game, you want to experience it, have fun with it, enjoy the process. It is reward for your guys playing well throughout the season and finding a way to advance to the post-season, so we're going to make sure we definitely enjoy it. You know, this is a big opportunity for us to showcase and see how good we really are against a quality opponent every single year. You know, we'll have our hands full, but that's what makes the game fun.

Q. Do you buy into the idea that a Bowl win can catapult you into the next season and to the off-season, to spring?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I used to, but we went 0-3 this year (Laughter). I don't think that always is the case.

You know what, every year it's different. Do we want to finish this year on a great note, and with the chance to play against a quality, a top-quality SEC school?

You know, at the beginning of the year, if you could have asked if this would be a great opportunity at the end to play an opponent like this, we would say for sure it is.

This is what you work hard all year for to play this type of opponent. Once it's over, sure, you try to use any momentum you can for the next season but really in the end, you're a new team starting after this Bowl game, and we'll have to prepare that way. I'll have to do a better job of preparing us to start the next season. There's some things that without question we've got to make sure to tweak here and there so that we're prepared for game one and next season, regardless of how the Bowl game goes.

Q. You're going to have to fit 15 practices into about 25 days before the Bowl game. Will you use them all, and do you have a plan of action on how to do that?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We will not use all of them. We did not use all of them last year. I think it's important that we keep somewhat the same schedule we had last year, which means I wants our guys to have a break.

I want our guys to get away from it a little bit. I want our guys to work on their schoolwork and try to, you know, finish as strong as they can in the classroom. I want us to let our bodies and mind heal a little bit, while at the same time, we're getting some workouts in in the weight room and conditioning.

And then we'll get back out on the practice field starting this Friday, but even then, it won't be an every day thing. We're going to make sure that we are smart with it. They have finals coming up the week after. We're on the road quite a bit recruiting, as well. We want to make sure we finish that off.

We'll utilize the time that we need to get us prepared. We'll utilize the time we need to prepare the young guys for the future which I think we'll do a more thorough job this year than last year, ante the thing up a little bit and increase the intensity of that. That will be fun. But you know, we've got to get to the game as healthy as we can but also prepared and also fresh.

Q. With Brad being the CEO of the Music City Bowl, can you detail your relationship with the Lampley family?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, Brad Lampley is a great friend. He's a little bit younger than me, and his father was my high school coach, the athletic director at the school after that. Still is involved there.

Great people. He was a great coach. Probably as far as a lot of the traits that I tried to learn from a coach, my high school coach, Dennis Lampley, was one I took a lot from. Really was a great motivator. A guy that loved his players and his players loved him; they played for him. He did it the right way. Loved his school and loved his kids on the team, and like I said in return, they played for him. Great people. We're excited to see those guys and I think it will be a lot of fun.

Q. I think you met Jarrett Stidham at the Manning Academy before; your takeaway of what you got out of that meeting.
DAVID BLOUGH: Yeah, obviously, Jarrett is a fantastic player and great guy. We got to spend some time together at the PPA down there, and actually I know his fiancée from high school. We used to go to summer camp together. Jarrett and I have stayed in touch and been friends and obviously he's a fantastic player and great quarterback and our defense will be up for the challenge.

But Jarrett, from Stephenville in Texas, kind of grew up hearing about him and knowing who he was, it will be fun to square off against those guys. It's a great test for us, our program and that's all you can ask for, for the three guys up here to end your career and for our team to end the season?

Q. Jacob, can you update your health status on whether or not you plan on playing on the 28th?
JACOB THIENEMAN: I do plan on playing. I'm very optimistic about my ability to play in the Bowl game. There's a lot that's gag to happen between now and then, the next three and a half weeks in the recovery process as I rehab my shoulder and get my weight back up.

But I am optimistic about my ability to play in the Bowl game.

Q. Jeff, do you have any sense on Grant yet, Grant Hermanns?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Actually, we're actually -- excuse me, I said that twice.

We're actually optimistic that he can make it back for the game. We'll see how the next couple weeks progress. We'll try to get him back on the practice field, but I definitely think there's a chance.

Q. What do you need from the rest of the defensive tackle group now without Lorenzo and what sort of preparations do you have to make to go on without him in this game?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we're going to have to evaluate where we're at. There could be, you know, more than one person out for the game that we've got to see exactly where we're at and we're going to be thin there, without question.

Probably going to be playing some guys that haven't played a whole lot this year, so that is concerning and we've got to make sure that we figure out who is going to be able to play and get him quality reps throughout the next month and may have to be creative in what we're doing to continue to attack and make plays. But we've got some concerns there.

Q. Would you put any freshmen out there, being that you have these practices to kind of zero in on them?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes, everyone is on the table right now, so there's a chance that quite a few guys that either have barely played or haven't played at all could participate in this game.

Like I said, we'll utilize this month to see if they are ready to go, and if they have been working hard and putting in the time, you would think that guys that aren't happy that they are not playing would step up and get it done, but we've got to see exactly how they practice.

Q. One last question from me. The last couple weeks, as you've had to look at your current job and the context in which you've had to look at it, deciding between the two, did it show you anything about the current situation or change the way you look at it at all or give you maybe a little bit more enthusiasm about it, anything like that, any sort of changes from it from having had to assess it in this context, if that makes sense.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I'm looking forward to the future here. We're going to have the same challenges I thought we had before. I don't think that's going to change.

I think our guys have played extremely hard. They want to win. They want to improve. It's important to them. We've found ways to get over the hump just to a certain degree and qualify and move forward. You like to find ways to increase that total every year if you can.

Every year is a new team. But developing our guys, getting our young guys ready to play, recruiting the next crop, creating excitement around the program. You know, trying to get some big wins and be competitive week-in, week-out, that's what we're trying to do.

You know, I don't think there's any shortcut, so I wish I could tell you there is. But I think we've got a great group of coaches that are going to work hard and doing everything we can from working with our guys, putting in the best scheme, system we can to win, recruiting the next crop, selling our team, our program, our university, what we are all about and it's going to be a gradual process.

As much as I'd like to go fast and get to the top of the ladder very soon, you know, we'll see where we're at. I want to be a competitive team that every year improves, but we've got to showcase it on the field and prove ourselves.

Q. When I said one last question from me; I was obviously lying. You don't expect any changes on your staff, by chance, do you?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, you know, I think from now until the middle of January, you never know. So every year's different. Last year, we just had Coach Levine decided to step away. It's too early to tell, but nothing's off the table and with coaching changes across the country, that's when things start to shuffle.

It's hard for me to predict that. I know we've got a great group of guys. They like it here. As you know, if a great opportunity arises that fits their future in many ways, financially and what they are trying to do, I'm sure they will look at it and communicate with me. In the end we want them to make the best decision for them, but I like the guys we have.

Q. I think David mentioned this, but where were you when you found out the news that Coach was saying and had how did you sort of receive that?
DJ KNOX: I was actually on my way from home on my way to dinner. One of my friends called me and was like, "Hey, you know Coach Brohm is staying, right?"

I was like, "Yeah, Bro, I had no doubt in my mind." (Laughter) I'm like, "Come on, man." Like the things he's done around here, turning the program around and getting guys excited and getting the fans and the community, everybody involved, back into football.

I just don't see that, in my mind, I didn't see that changing any time soon. I mean, it wasn't a surprise to me. And you know, Coach Brohm loves it around here.

Q. For David, can news like that, that he's staying and sort of believed in the program, something you guys already know, can that motivate you going into these last three weeks of practice for the Bowl game?
DAVID BLOUGH: Yeah, definitely. You know, we see it that way. Obviously as players when your coach believes in you and likes what the future holds, it's empowering, it really is, and I think the guys on our team know that.

We've got some good, young players who have stepped up for us, and people who this staff has brought in, who have really made this team what it is, we definitely would not be without them and we see, you know, obviously we get a couple more weeks together to keep practicing and keep -- you know, you try to go get one more win at the end of the season.

We never had any doubt, whether it was to start the year versus Northwestern, or even after we started 0-3. They believed in us. It challenged us and that's all you can ask for as a player.

I think now, with the chance to end it on a winning note versus a good opponent, with the news that Coach Brohm -- and I think that's something Purdue can build ongoing forward and it should excite the community. It should excite the recruits, everybody involved, in getting Purdue to where it can be.

Q. David, what's it mean for you to be the quarterback in a Bowl game?
DAVID BLOUGH: Yeah, after seeing some of the rough days here, we struggled to get over three wins a few years ago, right. Being able to help the team and just try to do my job as best I can to help us get to six wins, you know, now being able to be a part of that after five years, it is special. I take a lot of pride in it. I'm going to approach it with the respect it deserves and we'll look forward to competing in that game.

But yeah, it means a great deal to me. You're going to get our best shot, that's for sure. You've got senior leaders on the team who are going to make sure we try to end this thing the right way.

So yeah, it means a lot of after some of the things we've been through, obviously, but yeah, it feels good.

Q. You mentioned that maybe another defensive lineman might be out. Who are you referring to?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, let's give it a little more time and I'll get back with you on that. I think we'll know more probably by this weekend.

Q. D.J. and Jacob, just going through the whole Bowl preparation last year, what did you learn? What can you apply to this year to make sure that you guys are in the same mindset and you approach it the same way as you did last year?
JACOB THIENEMAN: I think a lot of it is like Coach Brohm said: Take the next week, make sure guys are getting healthy, focusing on school, finishing up the semester while staying in shape, and then once we start practice up again, we start preparing and we start hitting the film hard. Getting reps in on the field just preparing for our opponent.

One thing that we'll carry away from last year, is while Bowl games are really exciting and they are a lot of fun; maintaining that focus on the game itself throughout all the events and activities that go on.

So I think that's something we'll definitely carry from last year.

DJ KNOX: You know, kind of to piggyback off what Jacob said, focusing on schoolwork, getting your body healthy, making sure you evaluate your opponent the right way and make sure that you know you're coming into the game with a good game plan.

The time that we're allowed is necessary, and you know, it helps guys get better and yeah, pretty much help you get the body right.

Q. Jacob, with not having Lorenzo there now, how does that change things up front defensively, and what other guys or what else has to happen to kind of make up for his loss?
JACOB THIENEMAN: Kind of going off what Coach Brohm said, again, we're going to have to evaluate where we're personnel-wise. You know, see what we can fit in with different packages with guys up front. Maybe some young guys stepping up. Seeing who can rotate in once we start practicing up again and seeing how they can fit in that scheme.

Coach will have us dialed up and prepared to tackle Auburn. So that's something we'll address as we start practicing.

Q. Just any recruiting benefits of being in Nashville? You can't talk about them, but you've got two commitments for the '19 class. Does this line up where your recruiting philosophy is now?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it's a very fertile area there, and we have Bryson Hopkins who is an outstanding player from down in that area, and we're going to make sure that -- the surrounding areas, down into Tennessee, we try to do best job we can.

Now, you've got to fight against the SEC schools and that's the slight dilemma you have to overcome, but threes a lot of people that are either overlooked or want an opportunity to play in the Big Ten, as well.

You know, we want to continue to try to hit that area very hard, but it is an area that everyone recruits and everyone knows about, and the Nashville area and the area surrounding is where the top football is, or most of it, in the State of Tennessee. We're down there quite a bit and we're going to continue to be.

Q. DJ, question for you. After your career here and going through years where obviously a Bowl game did not come at the end of the season, what does it mean to you to end your time at Purdue with back-to-back Bowl wins and putting the program back on the map as a winning program?
DJ KNOX: I know for me and most of the guys up here, we have been through a pretty rough few years here at Purdue where we weren't winning, just over a little three games, and you know, ending your season like that was disappointing.

But now that we're at the point to where we're able to have the conversation about who we're about to play in a Bowl game or where we want to go is gratifying. It just speaks to the work that all these guys up here, and even the coaching staff, and, you know, the teammates, how much work everybody's put in, and it feels great in my mind, ending on a high note.

Q. For David and Coach Brohm, when you guys think of Auburn, just what comes to mind?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, for me, it's an historical, traditional powerhouse football team in the SEC right there with Alabama. Way back in my days, Iron Bowl was a great match-up and you never knew who was going to win.

Obviously Alabama has taken a step that not many others have, but Auburn is a very talented football team. They are going to recruit the south and get a lot of great athletes, which they have.

You know, they have a lot of talent. They play tough competition every week and this is a tremendous challenge and opportunity for us because I think it's a very, very talented, high-quality team that we're going to have to do a lot of things right to give us a chance to come out of there with a win.

DAVID BLOUGH: Yeah, and for me, I'd agree. Watching the Iron Bowls over the past and things like that, when you think of the SEC, you think Alabama/Auburn. You think some of those schools, and even this year, they have beaten some good teams. They beat the Pac 12 champ in Washington. They beat Texas A&M. They had a close loss to LSU. There's some great football played down there.

Obviously you think as a quarterback, you think, well, what's the defense going to give you and you think of a stout defensive line and you think of defensive linemen in the NFL every year. You think of tight man-to-man coverage.

You know, that's an exciting challenge I think that awaits our offense and our team, and we're looking forward to it. I know the guys are excited, just kind of gauging the pulse when the news was being broke this afternoon.

Q. Last year ahead of the Bowl game, we asked but your relationship with Rich RodrĂ­guez. So this being said, what is your relationship with Gus Malzahn?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Not really a relationship. We probably know each other, ran into each other a few times, but haven't crossed paths a whole lot.

I've followed his career from an outsider. He's a creative guy that's done very good at a lot of places he's been. He's been a high-quality coordinator before he became a head coach and now he's working at a powerhouse with great competition, pressure on it to perform.

They are going to have great talent and every year it's going to be a fight and scrap of fighting ways to win, but he's been there and done that. He's got a ton of experience. He's coached at the high school level and collegiate level, and I think he's an outstanding coach.

Q. Seems like a good question to ask in college football nowadays, but do you expect all of your healthy and eligible guys to play, and not sit to prepare for what might come next?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: That is a good question. As far as I know, I don't see anybody sitting out of the game, but you know, no one has informed me of anything to this point. I'm optimistic that that will not happen but if it does, we would adjust, but I do not see that happening.

Q. David, I think I saw you Tweet about it yesterday, but can you kind of put into perspective the Jalen Hurts story as you were watching it, as something you would be able to relate to personally?
DAVID BLOUGH: Just seeing the story, the difference a year can make for him in that situation, everybody's story's different.

Getting to meet Jalen and hearing him talk a little bit, and getting to see him benched on the biggest stage and stick with it and fight through a tough situation, and then being ready when his number was called, stepping in for a teammate and being a good teammate and leading his team back to victory; you write scripts in Hollywood, I don't think you could seen have put that one on paper for him. And the same stage, same stadium, against the same team, to lead his team back to a college football playoff, what a story for him.

You know, there's stories like that everywhere, but I'm happy for him and happy, obviously, for him to just be able to pull that out for the guys and fight through it. What a testimony for him.

Q. You talked last year about when you went out recruiting, you noticed a surge after some of the speculation and whatnot. What have you noticed in recruiting the last couple days?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, got to be careful what I say, you know, but I think our class this year is strong, and it's remained rock solid to this point. You know, it may have done that anyway, but I feel very good where we're at.

Of course, you've got to recruit the next class, and the one after that. We've identified them. We've just got to make sure that we do our part. Nothing really happens overnight, but I do think that the Purdue brand is out there.

If we can get guys to check us out, watch us play, come see our facilities, visit our campus, come to a game, it's a positive experience and that's been our thing we've noticed the most is the ability to recruit and not get guys to waiver to this point, has been outstanding. We've just got to keep it going.

Q. Elijah, is he going to get a medical redshirt for this year?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we're looking into a lot of options and I don't want to tell you something when I don't know for sure, but that is a good question, if that helps. (Laughter).

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