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October 21, 2019

Jeff Brohm

West Lafayette, Indiana

HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, it's time to get back to work. I think this is a big week for us. We're always disappointed when we lose. There's a lot to learn from the last game, which I think we will. It's important that we have a great week of practice and come ready to play.

This team in my opinion is vastly improved from the previous years. I think they have done a great job with the youth that they have played with the last couple years. They went a different route and added a lot of transfers. The leading sack leader on the team as a grad transfer from USC. One of the best linebackers is a transfer from Washington and they have a few more on defense.

On offense, their starting quarterback, their leading receiver and starting offensive linemen are all grad transfers, so they have added some experience with their youth and it's made them a better football team. I.

Think that they are playing very good right now. They are playing confident. They have had a big win against Wisconsin. They played Michigan close. They played Nebraska down to the wire. This team has done a very good job of improving.

I think on defense, they ranked eighth in the country for tackles for loss. The grad transfers from USC has eight and a half sacks. They do a great job of mixing things up a little bit more than they have in the past and getting penetration and getting negative plays.

So we'll have our hands full. We have to have a great week of practice. We have to improve from what we did last week. We have to find ways to create more plays, be more consistent, execute better, and all those things have to happen in order for us to win.

Q. Any update on Rondale?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I'd say it's doubtful.

Q. How about Cornel Jones?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Cornel, I will probably know later in the week. But I'd say 50/50 at this point.

Q. Branson Deen?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I would say that one's doubtful.

Q. Is there a reason why Sparks and Watts are not on the depth chart?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Watts will play. He has an elbow injury that he's been dealing with.

Sparks is probably doubtful.

Q. Can you talk a little about the play of Semisi on Saturday, No. 97. Looks like he held himself pretty well for being a defensive end at linebacker.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I thought Semisi had an excellent game and did some really good things. I think he proved to us that he needs to be in the gall game. He's physical. He'll hit people. He'll attack people. I thought he made plays.

On the inside he, showed up quite a bit. He's done a great job on special teams throughout the season. He got a little nicked up during the game, but he was able to go back in. I do think he had a lot of production, and we need to get him in the game more.

Q. And why use three punters on Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, we definitely want to have the ability to rugby punt. That's something that we'll probably always do. And I think with Brooks, well, I think he has a bright future. Consistency is something he has to work on.

So we are definitely always going to go into the game with two punters, the ability to rugby and the ability to punt with Brooks. And then for the pooch punt inside the 45-yard line, sometimes we bring in Carollo, who does a pretty good job of getting the ball up end-over-end, and trying to pin it inside, hopefully the 15. This one, it didn't get in as far as we'd like, but that's kind of his job for us.

Q. And quick flashback to Saturday. Your thoughts on the Amad Anderson, Jr. Fumble?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: My thoughts on the --

Q. On if Anderson actually fumbled the football -- yards in the red zone.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I had multiple people look at it with me. Of course, my opinion is, you know, I did not think it was a fumble. But it got called on the field. It didn't get reversed. I disagree with the call, but we've got to live with what the call is.

And I thought he did a good job on the screen, making the catch, getting some yards and unfortunately came out at the end I guess.

Q. And after looking at the film again what more can you say about David Bell?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, David's been outstanding, and he played well. Somebody that you know, going to have to be a playmaker for us with where we are at right now, every game, we're going to have to utilize him and make sure we get others involved as well.

But he definitely makes the catch. He definitely runs the route and gets open, and when he's guarded tight, he still makes the catch. And I think that's what separates him from the others sometimes is his ability to consistently make a catch, even when he's not wide open. And he definitely did that all game long.

Q. Is this the week we're finally going to see Lorenzo Neal?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: He'll be out this game.

Q. Is he cleared medically?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I don't think he's fully cleared and ready to go, otherwise he would be playing. So I don't know the time line. I do think -- I do think we'll see him before the end of the year, but I can't tell you that for sure.

Q. You don't think he's fearful of getting hurt again and wants to avoid playing?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think he's worked hard to rehab and I think he's looking forward to getting the on the field. Unfortunately it hasn't happened yet. You know, just talking with him and visiting with him, I do think he will get out there this year. I just don't know when.

Q. Update on Jalen Graham?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Jalen had a hip flexor. I think he'll be able to play this week, but he's not going to be able to practice a whole lot.

Q. If he doesn't play or is limited in any capacity, how does the secondary or how does the nickel position look at that point?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Simeon Smiley played quite a bit before we moved Jalen there. I think he's the most likely guy. Cam Allen has worked at nickel, as well, so those two.

Q. You mentioned after the game you didn't think the secondary played well. After watching the film, what were their issues on Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: You know, I think on maybe three or four plays, it was just an individual bust. You know, wasn't one of Cory's better days, but it's going to happen sometimes. I think just out of position, not using his technique.

You know, we gave up some easy completions and some coverages that it shouldn't happen. I think he'll learn from it. Once again, yes, we need to be better against the pass. I don't like when -- I thought we did a good job of, you know, playing good defense at times, but I'd like to be better versus the pass.

Q. With Semisi, linebacker, does that mean you're more inclined to go with three linebackers, at least for this game, or does he rotate in with Ben and Jaylan when you play nickel?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think it's all going to depend on what we're going to see against Iowa. They are a traditional two-back team. And in that case, we're going to be in a base defense look of four-down linemen and three linebackers, and that's what you have to do to stop the run. For teams that spread it out a little more, you probably won't see that as much, but we'll have the ability to get to that if we need to.

Q. How would you assess what Jaylan has done these last three or four weeks at the linebacker spot and where's his play maybe taken off?

Q. Jaylan Alexander.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think Jaylan has made strides. He needs to be a playmaker for us. He needs to continue to improve. I think at times you'll see him show up. We had to move him around a little this past game to get some easy on the inside. So he's kind of playing a position he hadn't worked as much, and I thought that showed a little bit.

He's gaining knowledge and gaining experience. I think he's just got to continue to work hard and improve. You know, he's got to learn to be a dominant linebacker in the middle and somebody that we can count on.

Q. You talked after the game about Jack Plummer; you want him to run more. Could you go a little bit more in-depth? When are you looking for him to run?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, I think Jack, after looking at the film, he made some really good throws and he made some really good plays and he made hard to the end, so I was proud of that. They did a good job. That's a good defense. They definitely didn't give us a lot of wide open looks. We had to earn it.

And there were some times, some things where the underneath throw I thought was there; that he could have checked it down or maybe even the checkdown. And then there's some times where he's going to have run it, step up and run and get some yards in some key situations. I think towards course the very end of the game he started doing that more.

That's going to be in every game. When you're a guy like Jack, a guy who has some athleticism and has the ability to convert when they are going to cover some plays, that has to be in your head that you running the ball, and throwing it away, but definitely you running the ball to get some yards has got to be an option.

I think he just needed to look at that a little bit more throughout, especially the middle of the game, but I think he improved upon it at the very end. It's just got to be a continual learning process; that we've got to make sure that every possession is vital, especially when you're playing Iowa. We don't get many possessions and if they are going to cover some things, you have to be able to step up and run and get some yards with your feet, definitely some positive yards.

Q. Do you want to call more design runs for him?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I don't know if it's definitely truly that. We do want to make sure that versions the zone read and some things like that are up and available and ready to go.

I just think in pass situations, when teams are playing the past, if the checkdown is not there, the next checkdown is you running the football and that just has to always happen.

I think any good quarterback, even the ones that are not great athletes, have to realize what's going on with the defense and be able to step up and get some positive yards and take advantage of it. I think you saw him do it a little bit at the end of the game and it's beneficial. Got us going and got us first downs and got us moving and momentum.

Q. How did the offensive line grade out?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think the offensive line has made improvement, and while there was some pressure on Jack, we gave up one sack, but I think in general, they are getting better.

You know, they are working hard. I thought Grant Hermanns did a very good job against their best defensive end. I thought Matt McCann on a couple plays did a very good job and the others are improving. When you see a guy like Sam Garvin who has not played a lot, he didn't show up as getting beat or negative plays that happened weren't his fault. So I think he's improving.

It's got to just be a work-in-progress, but I do think they put in a lot of extra work throughout the week. I've seen them do it before and after practice, and in the middle of it, we have to continue to stay on it because we need those guys to continue to improve.

Q. I don't know anybody asked but Stickford. Is he okay?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yes, I think if I can forward will be able to play.

Q. I see Cam Craig is now listed as a backup at left guard, too. You have your four-game tokens on some of these guys. I don't know what philosophy is on offensive lineman playing right away, but is he a guy you might put out to get more experience the rest of the way?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Yeah, I think Cam Craig is the next guy up. He's made good progress. He came in as a tackle, and we're working him at guard, as well, to make sure we can get him in the game. And I think here in the future, if not this week, you'll see him in.

Q. I see you played Worship but not Tario. Did Tario have any setback or anything like that?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: Well, you know, both those guys are getting back from injury. I think you'll see Tario in the mix this week.

Richie, you know, he's continuing to work through his issues and we'll see how healthy he is at the end of the week. He had some soreness and some things after the game, so we'll make sure we manage that and see if he can play this week.

Q. Again in the running game, you mixed things up -- but the rushing yardage total has still been pretty low the last couple weeks. Obviously Iowa's defense has a lot to do with that. But you pulled some design runs for Jack; do you plan on maybe rushing the ball more against this Illinois defense or do you just take what the defense gives you?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: We'd always like to have more balance. Yes, disappointed we didn't have more rushing yards. I'll take some of the blame for that. I think you get in a rut where while they are not scoring touchdowns, they are scoring field goals and you're not getting many possessions and you want to try to make sure you go down swinging.

Yes, we need to work on maintaining a little more balance. We have to be a little more committed to the running game. We have to make sure we get positive yards with it and do some different things with it. Yes, I'd like to be more efficient running the football and it's something we need to work hard at.

Q. Schematically what have you seen out of Illinois? What helped them beat Wisconsin, do you think and what do you have to do to neutralize their attack on Saturday?
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM: I think they are vastly improved from what we play the last couple years. They have obviously been getting some young guys experience, but they have also been smart enough to coach as they have added some experienced veterans to the mix. They are playing very good and they are doing a very good job and they are productive, and it's added to their team on both sides of the ball.

On defense, they are doing more things than they had in the past. They are not as vanilla. They are going to change things up. They are going to attack the line of scrimmage. They always have a mixture of their Cover 2 that they would like to play. They are definitely disguising and doing many more things than they have in the past, and it's been more productive.

When you look at the Wisconsin game, they did a good job of stopping the run for the most part. Jonathan Taylor didn't really have a break out game. He got his yards. They did a good job against the pass. They got a timely interception. They are creating more turnovers. And like I said, they are ranked eighth in the country on tackles for loss, which means this they are playing downhill.

So I think this is a very improved team that's playing very well that, you know, wither going to have to play our best.

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