Game 7 Prep: Brohm Press Conference

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue football head coach Jeff Brohm held his weekly press conference on Monday to talk the close win over Maryland and preview this weekend’s game against Nebraska under the lights of Ross Ade Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 pm. 

JEFF BROHM: They’ve been tremendous all year, so it will be great to get back and have a home game. Always a lot to learn from the last game, so we’re going to have to do that as we proceed forward.

Without question we need to have a good week of practice. They’ve got a talented football team, coming off two wins that has always had a lot of talent, got great size, they look the part, they got really good players.

I think they have simplified some things in their plan and they’re playing good football. So we’re going to have to practice well, be really hungry this week to improve, and come ready to play.

Q. Couple things from Saturday’s game. Just how significant was Cam Allen’s block of the PAT, and how did that affect strategy on your end at the end of the game, and how do you feel like it potentially impacted what Maryland wanted to do at the end of the game as well?

JEFF BROHM: Well, it was huge. Any time you can block an extra point it’s huge. When we looked at the video and had the big screen on it, he was not offsides from our vantage point. Did he move a little bit before the others? Yes, but he was in the offsides when the ball snapped.

On the two-point play their linemen was six yards down the field, so two good calls in our opinion that luckily were called.

But to block an extra point is huge when you block a kick, especially when the game is tied. Gave us the ability to come down and score, take the lead, put us in an advantageous position, and then of course being able to score again gave us what we thought was a little leeway.

They came back and scored, so unfortunately didn’t work out exactly the way we wanted. But yeah, really good job by Cam, and any time you can block an extra point and do anything that gives you an advantage it helps.

Q. They threw a flag on that, not for the offsides, but they threw a flag for something else. What was the flag for?

JEFF BROHM: On the —

Q. The extra point that was blocked. (Indiscernible.)

JEFF BROHM: Oh, that was for when we recovered the onside kick. I guess we tossed the ball illegally forward, so that was illegal, that part.

Q. Daniel Johnson didn’t play Saturday. What’s his status long term, short term?

JEFF BROHM: He will be out for the season. Unfortunately suffered a knee injury, and he will be out for the season.

Q. As you look at the offensive line on film, how did they hold up? What did you see? Is this kind of the six that you need to go moving forward now?

JEFF BROHM: Well, we got to continue to develop the others. At some point it’ll probably be less than the six guys that are playing, so we’ve got to get the other ones ready to go just in case.

We were able to rotate a little more in those positions that gave guys more responsibilities. I thought we played hard. Wasn’t one of our better games, but couple of the sacks were coverage sacks, couple of the sacks were tight ends, couple of the sacks were the quarterback holding it too long.

You know, those and their defensive line, especially the one-three technique, was a little better than we thought. Was pretty stout and got off blocks. When we thought we might have a hole running, they got off the blocks at the last minute. So I give them credit. They did a good job. We just got to work through it.

I thought or offensive line played hard and we just got to correct any mistakes we had.

Q. Do you look at — I mean, you’re always try to develop guys, but are there some of the younger guys that are closer that could help you in the second half of the year?

JEFF BROHM: Well, those guys are getting closer. They’re not up to the capabilities of our first six, but they’re getting closer. At some point they’ll have to go in, but we’re not going to, you know, probably dip down unless we have to.

We’re getting close. We’ve got guys nicked up quite a bit. Gus is playing through some injuries and he’s just a tough son of a gun. Some others that have been nicked up. Charlie has been nicked up, hasn’t been able to practice much.

I give these guys a lot of credit. We have some tough guys on the team that are not able to practice as much, which I think has hurt us a little bit. We have to get them to the game.

Yes, those linemen are going to play before the end of the year for sure.

Q. You saw the lift that Jalen Graham gave the defense. When you went and looked at it, where did he really make his plays and stand out on Saturday?

JEFF BROHM: Well, it’s a veteran presence that I think will continue to get better. I did think the first couple series he was rusty and he had some busts, but then he settled in.

He makes tackle, he makes plays, he’s an athletic guy who understands football, and I thought the more he played the better he got. We are hopeful he can continue to build on this. We need him to be a dominating force if he can.

Q. Nebraska brings in a pretty good running back, Anthony Grant. What kind of style do you see in him and what kind of challenge will it be to keep him under wraps?

JEFF BROHM: Well, I think they’ve got a good combination of a running back and big tight ends, some athletic receivers, and a quarterback that can move around and make plays, and always presents some issues.

Stopping in the run is always a priority. We got to do the best job we can, have the perfect balance, and make sure that we’re playing the to pass some as well. We can’t just commit a bunch of guys in there and isolate our corners all the time.

So once again, has to be a perfect balance. We did some really good things in the game on defense at times, and there were some other times where gave up a couple things way too easy.

So just if we can just fine tune that and make sure we’re getting better. But I think our defensive line has been able to play hard and has been the backbone up front, where not necessarily been one guy, just a bunch of guys playing hard, and we are able to rotate and keep them fresh. We got to continue to build on making plays there.

Q. Is it any different facing an interim coach as opposed to a guy that’s been there a year or two or three? As you know, you got two of them in the next two weeks.

JEFF BROHM: Not really. Same football team. Talented football team. They got pride. They play hard. What you do when that happens is you got to see the adjustments they make schematically on offense, defense, special teams.

So that’s what we’re looking at now, just seeing what adjustments have they made from that point on and getting prepared for that.

Q. How deep in your playbook or how many passing plays to the fullback do you have in your playbook?

JEFF BROHM: Probably more than you think. The amount of passing plays hasn’t been a problem. But you know what? Situationally when you get a little better running ball you’re able to mix in some play-action.

We were in a two-back set five to six times throughout the game running the football. That definitely helps on a short yardage situation to be able to slide them in the flat.

But it was a really good job by Ben slipping in the flat, a good job by Devin blocking on the edge, and a good accurate throw that really helped key a drive to work us down the field for a touchdown. Every little thing matters.

Q. Would you like to utilize the running backs more in the passing game?

JEFF BROHM: We threw to them quite a bit on some swings and some things like that. I think we had one drop on a play-action. But yeah, for sure we do.

I know Austin is very comfortable throwing to those guys. Aidan is always looking up to the field to throw first. This team had a couple good corners, especially one that did a really good job. At some points they were dropping eight or nine guys in the coverage. You have to be able to throw to these guys behind the line of scrimmage or underneath and get some yard if you’re not going to hand it off to them.

Q. Speak, Jeff, to the resiliency of the team. The last two games, six combined turnovers and the defense has only given up three points. Talk about the defense as far as being able to respond to those sudden changes and keep teams off the scoreboard.

JEFF BROHM: Well, we felt going in we had some experience on the defensive sides of the ball, so I thought they’ve done a good job. In order to win football games you got to be good in all three segments. If you think you’re just going to score every time you touch the ball it’s not realistic, that’s not going to happen against good opponents. That’s a pipe dream that we’re going to work for perfection and try to be as efficient as we can.

What we can do is be much better at not turning the ball over. When you have three turnovers in two games and you find a way to win, that shows the toughness and grit of your team.

But we got to improve on that. We have talked about it, identified it. It’s one thing to get stops, and one thing to stop yourselves by turning the ball over. That has to become a minimum of what’s going on.

We got a little bit better on the penalties. That’s helped. Our defense has played hard and we’ve done a good job. Continuing to be as efficient as we can on both sides and also gain an edge in special teams, which we’ve slightly gained an edge in each and every game.

We had the field goal that was really good. They missed long field goal. We blocked an extra point. We had a little bit of return yards. So just every little things matters in order to win.

As you can see from our games, we have three wins against FBS teams and it’s been by the hair of our teeth. We’ve had to scratch and claw to get them.

So that’s just how it’s going to be. We got to be willing to work for perfection and better execution, but you got to have the grit and toughness to be able to hang in to the very end.

Q. This looks like it’s one the best run defenses Purdue has in probably 20 years. No 100 yard rusher yet; fewest runs of over 20 yards and 10 yards, under 100 a game average. Why you guys so good against stopping the run?

JEFF BROHM: Well, we work hard at it. We’ve done a good job. At the same time, I’m realistic. Maryland is not a running team. Minnesota didn’t have their running back.

We’ve got a lot of really good teams coming up that run the ball, so see how good we are.

Our D-line has played hard. We have changed some things up and been a little more multiple on our fronts and looks. Linebackers and safeties coming downhill and making tackles is important and having that perfect balance.

We’ve always tried to err on trying to stop the run, and I think we’ve been fairly decent at that. We probably have given up more pass yardage over the past so many years than I would like to, so you got to balance that. Really just about minimizing points.

So, yes, first thing is stopping the run, but minimizing points in big plays is also important.

Q. Do you think Aidan is back to being Aidan? You feel confident this is the quarterback you began the year with from a physical standpoint?

JEFF BROHM: I think he’s feeling much better. It’s hard. Last half of the season last year he played an elite level and was just really on fire and doing some great things.

You know, we’re going to — teams are going to adjust and play to the things that we do well. We have to make adjustments. He’s going to have to continue to try to be efficient, but yet know that occasionally they’re going to drop eight guys in coverage; couple times they dropped nine.

So finding the outlet, stepping up and running occasionally is important. There was couple times I thought he was a little hesitant when we had open guys that he has to have to have perfect balance of yeah, we don’t want interceptions, but we got to be able to take the one-on-one match up and be aggressive when we take it.

Going to be different every game. Teams are going to know and study us, and he’s going to have to play as efficient as he can. That’s the hard part of being a quarterback, is every game is gonna be different.

And while we would love to be perfect in our decisions and throws, you have to be efficient and take what the defense gives you and move the chains, get first downs, and get points.

Q. And I don’t know if you can do it in real time, how you came up with the philosophy of how you were going to handle that end-of-game situation last Saturday when you were on the shadow of the goal line. You’re talking to people. Is that a scenario you run over in your head weeks in the preseason? Just how do you handle something like that?

6JEFF BROHM: Well, every situation is always slightly different. I’m not a big analytical guy. I go by feel and what I think is going to work. I don’t go by percentages.

You know, at that point with where we were at, I just knew if I was on the other sideline I would let the team score to get the ball back, and I knew that’s what they were doing. So we wanted to use some clock. We knew they had timeouts, so had to use the timeouts first.

We ran the quarterback sneak. Told our quarterback not to go in the end zone but not go backwards. Then we did it again on second down. Go forward but not backwards. Don’t go in the end zone. Burn some more clock.

We didn’t burn as much clock because they used their timeouts, but we were able to use their timeouts. Then on third down you have to think, okay, if we try to risk this again on fourth down you’re going to have a decision of do you kick a field goal or do you try to go (video feed froze.)

Q. …ready to go. What’s your thought process there? You have a sheet of 20 plays. Is that for overtime every week?

JEFF BROHM: Well, we were getting our plays ready for the two-point play after we scored, because I knew there was a chance they could score, so that was the first thing that we wanted to do.

Unfortunately they go down and score. I thought we had a call that worked on the first two-point play. You know, they had a shuffle pass along with a perimeter throw. Since they didn’t throw the shuffle pass, that meant their lineman was down field. He extended the play on the perimeter throw. Jalen was guarding his guy. We have everyone covered.

I think Jalen must have thought he was going to run in the end zone. He abandoned his guy, left him open, and that allowed for the open completion. Looking at it, he was going to get tackled, so Jalen should have just stayed on his guy and then the play was over then.

But I don’t blame him. He felt he needed to go make the tackle. Looking at it, he would’ve been tackled without going there. Luckily they were down field.

The second one was really the same call. I thought we had things guarded pretty well. Tried to buy time in scramble and we did good job covering.

As far as overtime plays, we always have a set selection ready to go and really it’s just about red zone plays from the 25 yard line going in and how can you get in the end zone and get touchdowns.

Q. We’ve had two head coaches let go in the Big 10 West. This weekend we had a coordinator let go and an offensive line coach. Where do you stand on making in-season staff coaching changes?

JEFF BROHM: Luckily those calls aren’t mine. Of course, as a coach I know how hard it is to win and how hard it is to work your tail off to get it done, so I feel for all the coaches. I think they’re all working hard.

From a coaching standpoint you would like for people to wait until after the season to make decisions, but that’s not today’s world. You just got to keep your head down and grind and understand that winning is important and putting in the time to get it done is important.

That’s why I talk about unfortunately hobbies aren’t as common nowadays, at least for me, because in the off-season you want to make sure you study, you find answers to problems that are going to come up. You make sure you’re prepared as you can.

It’s so competitive now in college football. It’s not just about the players. The head coach has to coach. Position coaches have to have a plan. You have to have answers. You have to put your players in the best position to succeed. You got to be able to practice hard, have those guys get you up every week no matter what the situation is, not get down on themselves.

That’s why it’s always a one-game season here, because we want to cut it loose for one game because that’s what we can control. Just a lot of things go into it, but you always hope for the best for everybody.

Q. Payne Durham, was that his best game of the year? Talk about how you felt he handled himself when he celebrated.

JEFF BROHM: Well, he definitely is a tremendous leader for our team and wants to win. He gives us great effort. We ask him to do a lot.

For the tight end to play that many plays when you got to be physical and block and catch balls. We would like to give him more of a spell and a break and not have to use him so much.

He’s battled through some injuries as well. So he’s played hard. And you know what? The first half he played okay. He had a couple busts here and there, couple things blocking-wise we would like him to do better, but at the same time, we’re asking him to do a lot. He’s got to be able to block defensive ends and be physical and get open and make catches.

But second half he came alive. He made really good plays. He played hard. You know, when they’re trying to take away the outside receivers you got to work the middle of the field. He does a good job of not having fear.

He got open underneath and Aidan was comfortable, and he made some good catches. Some of those weren’t easy catches. Like to throw a little bit more accurate ball, but he made really hard catches and has sure hands and he is just really reliable leader for us.

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