Purdue's Jeff Brohm Press Conference 11/18/19
COURTESY OF PURDUE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
JEFF BROHM: We're looking forward to having a good week of practice. Got a great opportunity against an outstanding football team that's played extremely well. They're big, they're physical, they're strong. They do all the small things correctly. They don't beat themselves.
It will be a challenge for us to be able to go up to Madison and find a way to win. I know we should have a good week of practice. I think our guys will be energized, enthused about the opportunity. Hopefully we can go out there, compete hard, play hard, play to the end and see what we can do.
Q. Talk about just the evolution of Aidan O'Connell in the past few weeks. JEFF BROHM: He's done a very good job for us. For someone to just kind of come in, learn the offense, sit behind people, continue to study, still grasp the principles and things we're doing, takes some reps along the way. I think when he's had an opportunity, he's done a very good job. We feel confident that he can continue to get better.
We understand what his strengths and weaknesses are, so he has to continue to get better at some of those things. He gives us everything he has. He plays extremely hard. His teammates love him. He's a good leader, leads by example. I anticipate him playing hard again this week.
Q. What did the team accomplish during the off week? JEFF BROHM: Well, I think the off week was good in respect to getting some guys fresh, healthy as we can get them at this time of the year. So that was good.
We got a look at a lot of the younger guys throughout the week, made sure they got some opportunities to improve, showcase what they're going to be able to do for us when they get their chance on the field, whether it's this year or not till next year.
Now it's back to trying to find ways to beat Wisconsin and have a good week of practice. But I think we took advantage of it the best way we could.
Q. How do you go about slowing down Johnathan Taylor? JEFF BROHM: That's going to be the challenge. Ran a lot of yards against us and a lot of teams. It's important somehow you match the physicality of their offense. They're big and strong up front. They're going to run the ball at you.
They've done a good job this year I think of adding the misdirection element to their offense, allow those things to throw off the eyes and keys of the linebackers and safeties, which has worked. I think that's opened up some things.
We had a hard time last year, especially towards the end of the game, got wore down. Handed the ball off to him, he pounded it in there, got some big runs. That's going to be the key. Got to be able to hit him early, tackle him, get him to the ground. Whether that's tackle him low and wrap your arms around him, one or two people tackling.
He's a great talent. A big, strong specimen. He has some good players around him. That will be a challenge. We have to try to limit him as much as we can.
Q. Any type of update on Rondale Moore and Lorenzo Neal? JEFF BROHM: We're as hopeful as you that at some point both of those guys will be back. It's still at the point we'll see if they can practice this week. As we get going on Tuesday, we'll see what they can do and how they feel. Really, until that truly happens, I can't be truly optimistic. But I'm hopeful that eventually it can happen.
Q. Do you like having two byes? JEFF BROHM: Personally I do not. I like to play the season, get it going. I'm used to the one bye week.
There are some advantages to it. When you're actually playing a little bit better football, it's good to keep playing. So I'd rather keep playing.
Q. Would you ever be in favor of having an injury report like the NFL? JEFF BROHM: I'm all for it. I'm all for being able to have a report, people be able to see exactly where things stand. So yes, I'm all for it. There's been talk about it numerous times at meetings. I would think at some point in the near future that would happen.
Q. Have you ever been asked about your opinion on the image and likeness legislation? JEFF BROHM: No, I have not.
Q. Do you have an opinion on it? JEFF BROHM: It's a great question. In general, I'm like others: I want what's best for our players. I want them to be able to have the advantages that they deserve. At the same time I don't make the final decision on how you balance it into the collegiate model of education, scholarship, take advantage of that.
It's not my call, but whatever we can work out to help the players, I'm all for.
Q. Is this a discussion that comes up in recruiting now? JEFF BROHM: No, it has not at this point. I think most players know it's up to the higher powers, what they want to do. It looks like there's some progress being made on that front. In the end, I don't know how it will all end up.
Q. Jared Sparks, any chance he gets back before the end of the year? JEFF BROHM: It's kind of in the same boat right now as Rondale and Lorenzo where we've got to see him on the practice field. He kind of has a high ankle, similar to the one he had last year, that ended up having surgery on. He came back I believe in the Iowa game, tried to play, injured it a little bit more. So that's been a dilemma.
Q. The off week, are there players that maybe didn't play a lot in your last game? Could they see more time this game? Are you getting a few more guys back healthy? JEFF BROHM: Well, I think on offense I don't think (indiscernible) will be back. I think defensively Semisi is a guy that comes and does some good things for us. Banged up and injured. Hasn't been able to practice at all. I think he got as healthy as he could this past week. That was somebody we wanted to get back healthy.
Jalen Graham has had some issues, as well, that I think he's feeling quite a bit more.
Cory Trice, I think he's feeling quite a bit better.
There are a handful I think that are healthier than they have been about the last three or four weeks.
Q. Semisi is a key component this week because you are facing a traditional type of offense where he would probably have three linebackers on the field most of the time? JEFF BROHM: I think so. I think he's done a good job. His strength is he's a good run stopper, he can tackle, can hit, he's strong. That's his strength. I think put him in the middle, put him in the box against these type of teams. If he's reading his keys and playing downhill, I think he can do a very good job.
I think he's shown some really good moments. Last game he was nicked up. There were some times where you'd like for him to attack and play a little better, he's out of position. But when he's instinctive and playing downhill, he can hit in tackles as good as anybody we have. That's his strength. We hope to have him out there full speed.
Q. You played a lot of freshmen this year. Any more that haven't played that might see action these next two weeks? JEFF BROHM: I think it's kind of at the same point we were at. The ones that have played, the ones that are going to continue to play. Each week Cam Craig is the next guy up on offense, disrupting the flow before we have it is what you have to balance. I think he's ready to play.
Hewitt at runningback I think is a guy that now can get in there and play some.
I think both young tight ends, if we need them, could do some things for us. They still mentally need to continue to advance. We're excited about their future.
On the defensive side of the ball, I think the ones that haven't played, we'll see how this next game plays out, but still aren't quite ready yet.
Q. With Wisconsin, their quarterback, what has he added to the passing game? When trying to deal with Taylor, what they've done down the field, just the challenges? When they get balanced, how difficult are they to stop? JEFF BROHM: I think they've done a very good job. They want their quarterback to manage the game, take care of the football, be able to hit some shots down the field in play-action, be able to throw it when they need to on third down. I think he's done a good job of that.
I thought he did a good job against us last year, coming in after not playing a whole lot. He's won the leadership role for their team. When he plays well and efficient, they're very good.
You look at their two losses, Ohio State right in the game until halftime, then the upset against Illinois, just one of those games where the turnovers hurt them.
When he's playing efficient and taking care of the ball, they're a hard team to beat.
Q. This might be a little redundant, but when you got the closer look at the young guys during the bye week, did anybody stand out, learn anything? JEFF BROHM: If you're talking about the ones that haven't played.
Q. Of which there are very few obviously. JEFF BROHM: I do think that they're going to be good players for us. They're not ready yet. We kind of had a couple good practices where while it was important to develop them, it's important to let them know that you're not ready yet, you got to do more.
I think those guys have to practice hard, use these practices where a lot of times they're on the scout team to go hard and get better, try to make plays, not go through the motions. That can sometimes happen, especially as you go through the season. Guys are used to playing and being the guy on their team. They come here, not get on the field.
We had to have a little wake-up call with some of them. We need more out of them. When they work hard, I think they can do some things. I wanted to stress to certain guys, if you're not playing right now, then you need to get better. I don't think that was understood as much until it was stressed this past week.
As we worked our way through it, I saw a few signs. But I think the intensity and the ability to work hard every day needs to improve, otherwise they would be on the field. If they're not on the field now, that has to improve and improve greatly.
Q. With the signing period now a little more than a month away, can you speak to the emphasis here this next month in terms of helping next year's team, what you're looking for? JEFF BROHM: Well, recruiting is vital. We've got to make sure we continue to do our part. Up to this point I think we've done a pretty good job. It's important you get the perfect mix of guys that can come in and be play-makers, guys that can come in, work hard, love football.
Of course, you evaluate your team as the season goes on, definitely towards the end of the season, what you need to help your team win fast and immediately. That's what we got to do a good job of. I think that's something when we first got here, we hit on some things that helped us. As we're continuing to recruit better, you pull away from it slightly.
But we have to make sure that every year is new and every year is different. Based on how this year has gone, we have to identify some areas we need help right away. We have to do a good job of recruiting as hard as we can to fill what are possible voids at the present time to help us win next year.
Q. Wisconsin' defense against Nebraska gave up a lot of yards, but made some key stops on fourth downs. What is the strength of their defense? How do you look to combat that? JEFF BROHM: When you watch Wisconsin's defense throughout the course of the season, you look at Ohio State, you look at some of the things Nebraska did, pretty much when you've had a running quarterback, you spread the field, that's what's hurt them. I don't know if that's what we can do at this point, but that is what's hurt them.
When you have an athletic quarterback that can scramble and make plays, when you can throw in the mixture of quarterback run, with Nebraska that's what opened up a lot of seams for them.
We've got to figure out how to create some seams with maybe not exactly that type of offense at this point, but you never know. We have to be smart and intelligent and figure out what can get the ball moving, not put all the pressure on the passing game. That's what we're trying to figure out.
When people have moved the ball, it's been because of the quarterback scramble, the athletic quarterback, and the quarterback being able to run the ball.
Q. When you come into a season I assume you look at the season and you have a pretty good feel of what it could look like throughout the year. Obviously this year is completely blown up with injuries and things. Has this season changed you as a coach at all having to deal with so much adversity throughout, freshmen, young players that haven't seen the field? JEFF BROHM: Every season is different. Yes, this has presented some challenges. Every year will. As you look at it, it really stresses the importance of making sure you develop all your guys on your team every day in the off-season, making sure you have a plan for that, making sure that everyone is into it, you don't waste any practice days or workout days to get that done. You never know who you're going to meet.
Like we said earlier, some of these young guys this past bye week, we have to stress that the work ethic and the time you put into it has to be more, it has to be something that you're pushing the envelope on every day because everyone has to be ready to go.
Winning is not easy. Everybody has to be playing at a high level. They have to be into it. A few injuries happen, you have to be able to adjust. You can't blame it on injuries.
It's important that we develop everyone on our team and we have a plan for it, it's a constant thing we do every day. That is something that I think we've done a decent job, but we've got to do better, we've got to do more. We have to think outside the box, making sure that everyone is being pushed to be their best so that when their number is called, when fall camp starts, they're ready to go.
Q. Is that something when you look at your culture, think about the internal piece of what's going on, is that something that you're stressing to the guys of it doesn't matter where you're at in your career, that it could be go time at any point? JEFF BROHM: Yes, I think nowadays more and more freshmen are playing across the country. Everyone wants to play. You got to just make sure they're ready to play. If they want to play, they need to make sure they do their part.
Certain guys that really stand out when you look at Rondale first got here, he put in the time, put in the effort, he pushed himself. That's why he was ready to go game one.
You look at George Karlaftis, he enrolled early, in three months changed his body drastically. He's put in the time and effort every single day.
We need more guys to do it to that extreme. Not everyone is going to be up to working that hard at it, but you have to push the envelope and you have to make them understand if you want to be great, do something special, it doesn't just happen. You can't work hard a few days out of the week and not the others.
We have to make sure we're on top of our position players, our units, in collaboration with the strength coaches and all our guys, that we have a plan to push the envelope, make sure we're hammering that home, that the hard work has to be put in.