• Joey Jarzynka

Purdue's Jeff Brohm Press Conference 9/30/19

JEFF BROHM: Once again it's time to get back to work for our football team. I know we have a lot of work to do, and work hard this week at improving and getting better as a team. Getting better as an individual, a unit and as a football team and that's going to be priority No. 1.

We face a very, very good football team in Penn State, as I've watched tape on them the last day and a half, they are very good. Big, physical on defense. They fly around, they make plays and their offense is productive.

This will be a tough contest, but it will be good for our players to go experience an environment that we are going to go into against a very good football team.

When it comes to where we're at from a health standpoint, Elijah Sindelar will be out. He's having surgery this morning as we speak an a broken clavicle. Washington will be out. He's having surgery tomorrow on a broken fibula/ankle.

Rondale Moore will be out this game.

Lorenzo Neal will be out this game.

Tario Fuller will be out this game.

Richie Worship will be out this game.

And Jared Sparks will probably be out this game.

Q. Can you give us any timetable at all on Moore? JEFF BROHM: I'll know more information by the end of the day hopefully.

Q. You mentioned after the game, one of your tight ends was throwing up. I'm guessing it's Brycen Hopkins. Can you sort of talk about issues he's having? The tight ends didn't make one catch and they only targeted three times. JEFF BROHM: Well, that's according to your stats how many times they have been targeted. A lot of plays called to them.

But Brycen, I think got hit in the stomach early on. Was throwing up throughout the game, and you know, we had to be careful how much we used him and when he was available and when he was not in there, Payne Durham was in there.

Q. Talk about the decision to change personnel at quarterback this week with Cory Trice and Jordan Rucker now the starters? JEFF BROHM: Well, I think right now, there's not a starter for sure at those positions. We're going to have open competition in some of the positions, especially on defense.

I think it's important that we open things up and we allow guys to have an opportunity to play and compete and see where they are at. There are some young guys that need to play more, need to see exactly what they can do for us.

At the same time, you know, the guys that have started and played, they just need to continue to get better. All of us need to get better at what we're doing, and we want to make sure everyone knows there's open competition across the board on offense and defense.

Q. What do you like about Kai Higgins at defensive tackle where he's now starting? JEFF BROHM: Well, we didn't got the production we wanted from the inside interior of the D-Line at this point. Kai Higgins is someone that I think plays extremely hard. He has experience for us. He cares. He's a very good leader and we want to find ways to get him on the field.

Q. Back to Elijah. Will he be out for the year? JEFF BROHM: It's too early to tell. We'll see how this goes, and go from there; that he will be out an extended period of time.

Q. With Rondale, is that a potential season-ending thing or an extended period of time? JEFF BROHM: We hope it's not, but I'll know by the end of the day where we stand with that.

Q. And back to the cornerbacks. What do you want out of that group now? What do you want to see in practice and obviously carry over into the game on Saturday? JEFF BROHM: We have to get better. It's not all in the corners as far as mistakes. We have to coach better. We have to get our guys in the best position to succeed and win. We have to work extremely hard in practice.

As you guys saw, I want to challenge routes. I mean, way too many open guys down the field. Way too many guys not being disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Way too many huge holes in the secondary, and sometimes it's not all them.

Those things need to start to decrease, and I'd like to see us be more sound in what we are doing. Make sure we understand what the strength of the offense is coming in and what we need to take away, which has to happen and then we've got to find a way to take that away and make them beat us doing something else, or at least make them beat us as we contest something very closely and they just found a way to be better.

Q. Are you looking at a scheme adjustment or just how you -- how you play the secondary? JEFF BROHM: Well, I think all things need to improve.

So like I said, it's not all on one person. We have to be sound in what we're doing. We have to make sure that our guys understand exactly where we need them to be and how to play it. We've got to make sure that when we're playing press coverage, we're not allowing receivers to free and untouched the entire time we run the route. We have to disrupt it. We have to disrupt the timing. We have to, you know, in our zone coverage, be where we're supposed to be, and be in those zones and areas and there were just way too many open guys running around the field all day long in my opinion.

Q. How much do the safeties play a role in this, as well? JEFF BROHM: They play a role. I think that linebackers play a role. To a certain degree, the D-Line does, but we have to shore up our pass defense, and that's been an issue for a while. We need to -- it needs to start this week, and it's going to be a tough week to start it against a very good football team that's had a lot of success and they are playing as well as I've seen them play since I've been in the league.

This will be a great challenge for us and we'll see where we're at.

Q. Is Lorenzo just not ready, or did he experience a setback? JEFF BROHM: He's just going to be out this week is all I'm at liberty to say.

Q. What about Penn State's offense, obviously they put up a big score on Maryland on Friday, but what stands out about where they are at offensively with the quarterback and then the receiver, KJ Hamler? JEFF BROHM: Well, they are a very efficient football team right now. I think it starts with their defense. When you shut teams out, when you have some of the personnel that they have, when you look across the board at where they are at, when you watch them on video, man, they play hard, they go hard. They attack.

They do a lot of things on defense. They are very aggressive. They get penetration. The linebackers can run and hit and tackle, and the secondary does an outstanding job. I think that's their strength, and an offense, they do have a couple good young receivers. The quarterback is playing efficient. The line is doing a very good job. They are taking care of the football. They move the chains and get it to their playmakers, and they have just kind of executed.

I think a combination of all those things have helped them play at a very high level to this point.

Q. Jack Plummer told us yesterday he basically had the playbook down during his first semester. He felt he learned it. I don't know if you completely agree with that or not. What about his mental makeup allows him to absorb that kind of knowledge, and is it just transforming that knowledge to game experience now? JEFF BROHM: Well, that is Jack's strength. He's very intelligent, and yes, he picks things up very quickly and he has a great grasp of what we are doing. He has very good knowledge. You know, the things he just has to work on is just getting some experience out there on the playing field. I think driving the football and throwing it with conviction a little bit more can help him.

But you know, with Jack, and really, our quarterback position, we've got to get better around him. So you know, fortunately for us he was able to make a few plays with his feet when he needed to and that gave us a spark. He competed and played hard to the end, and that was great to see.

But we've got to get better up front. We've got to get better running the ball. We've got to get better at being more physical. We've got to get better at knocking people back in everything we do. Even if it's receivers and tight ends and guys that are in press coverage and they are guarding us; no, we have to knock those guys back, as well.

So a lot of things have to continue to improve, but I think Jack is going to work hard and give us everything he's got, and hopefully do his part, which I know he's going to compete very hard but we've got to get better around him.

Q. What kind of step was Saturday for David Bell? JEFF BROHM: I thought David was outstanding. It was great to see him. He's been coming back from some injury, as well.

He played hard. He played tough. He made plays. That's kind of what we saw early on and then he was out for camp for a very extended period of time. He's got some great play making skills. He will be tested this week against a very good team and there won't be a whole lot of time to throw the football, so it will challenge us on offense.

But as far as his future, I think he can be outstanding, and once again, he'll look better if we can get better around him.

Q. Jackson steps into Rondale's role this week, is that correct? To lead, to have a guy with that experience to plug in there, how can that help your offense? JEFF BROHM: Jackson is a great leader. Plays hard. He wants to win. As you guys know, last year he didn't get as much action as he would like, very unselfish. Exemplifies what it means to be a Boilermaker and a team player, and now he's going to be playing more.

Last game he played quite a bit. Probably got more tired than he was used to but he had some production. I think he goes hard. You know, TJ Sheffield will be in the mix now, as well, so that we can spell him a little bit and not wear him out.

But a lot of guys are going to have to step up and you know, that's what football is all about. That's why they came here. I think that they will work hard this week and we'll improve as the week goes on and take the field with some confidence that we can go out there and execute and play good football.

Q. In the return game, where does Sheffield or where does the return game stand right now without Rondale? JEFF BROHM: Well, both Jackson and TJ will be in the return game. Maybe even Zander on kickoffs. Obviously we don't have that dynamic playmaker as Rondale back there, but we need to be steady in what we do. We need to be smart. We need to get yardage.

We need to be able to get it past the 25. And if it's a high kick that's inside the five, sometimes those need to be fair caught because we haven't got them past the 25, and it's important that we are smart, yet still productive. I know we've worked hard at it. Some of it we've seen. Some of it we haven't. Some of it penalties have hurt us.

But now without Rondale, we have to continue to work it and get TJ and Jackson better at what we're doing.

Q. What drew you to Jack so strongly in recruiting? JEFF BROHM: Well, we were fortunate with Jack. Former player that myself coach and my brother played with was defensive coordinator at the school. I think they are team was 1-11, his junior year, so he wasn't getting a whole lot of attention. They sent us the video and we liked what we saw.

The great thing you saw on video is for a guy that looks like a drop-back passer, made a lot of plays on his feet. His team wasn't very good around him; he scrambled and made plays a little bit like you saw in the last game a couple times.

So the fact that he had some play-making skills and was playing on a team that maybe wasn't as good as the others, I thought was a plus.

You know, you look at a -- in the NFL now, you look at a guy like Dwayne Haskins, he has a bright future, but on a great college team that was probably better than a lot of the others, and now he's on a team that's comparable to the others.

You look at Daniel Jones, who was on a team like Duke that maybe wasn't quite tremendous, but he played a lot of competitive football, and now you see him flourishing from the get-go.

So the fact that he was able to play and get better in his senior year, his team got better and experienced, you know, somewhat hard times and find ways to make plays and continue to compete and get better was a plus.

I think that, and you factor in he's a competitor, he's very intelligent, he wants to be a great player. We're excited to hopefully see him progress and continue to play well.

Q. With the way he moves, can you tweak your offense to him a little bit or do you want to -- I'd imagine, also, you want to keep him out of harm's way? JEFF BROHM: Both those things should happen. You've got to have the threat of the run and yes, with him, you can have that now. At the same time, you've got to be smart with it and make sure that he's getting healthy to the next game. Those things are a delicate balance but you do have to do both.

Q. All that being said about Jack, how do you prepare a quarterback that hasn't had season's worth of experience like Elijah for an environment like this at Penn State where you're going to be playing in front of a 100,000-plus people? JEFF BROHM: I think Jack just has to play within himself and do what he does. I think when you play against really good opponents, and your team needs to continue to work to get better, you have to make sure you're not trying to do too much and that's what can happen with quarterbacks if things maybe don't go exactly the way we want as they try to do too much and he can't do that.

We have to make sure that he uses this as a great learning experience and that he plays within himself. He continues to make plays when it's there. He continues to pull it down and run when it's not. He doesn't throw it to the other team. He doesn't turn it over, and we reserve the right to punt if for some reason we get stopped.

I think this is a great test and this is why you play the game. You play great football teams, and I know he'll be excited to compete.

Q. That being said, where do you go with the playbook now that Elijah is probably going to be out for the foreseeable future? Do you limit things, adjust things? How do you go about that. JEFF BROHM: Well, there's always tweaking going on. There's always adjustments being made. I think that, you know, Jack maybe doesn't quite have the arm as Elijah, but he's an accurate passer and he can move around and make some plays.

So we want to still be on the tag, but it is important to have some balance and it is important to try to establish the run, if we can. The last game we were able to do some things. We put in a couple new runs that probably were our best runs.

We need to be able to call some base runs and get some yards and knock people back. It's still going to be a work-in-progress. We have to work hard this week at coming off the football and striking and being aggressive and being tough and understanding that the game is won between the trenches and that's on both sides of the line, so that's just going to continue to take place in practice, and we've got to show it on Saturdays.

Q. (No mic.) JEFF BROHM: It's a combination of both. I know Cam Craig has done a very good job for us. He has a very bright future as a true freshman. That's not easy to play as a lineman, as a true freshman, unless you're very far along. He's done a very good job, and it wouldn't surprise me if he's in the mix this week if we think he's ready.

But he's made great strides; of the true freshman to this point, he's the farthest along, and we do like some of the other true freshmen as well, but he definitely has a chance to play.

Q. Coaches do go through all kinds of things throughout their careers, and what are some of your challenges from an injury standpoint, what do you draw, have you had an experience quite like this, whether it being a player or assistant and what helps you get the juice to move it forward? JEFF BROHM: Well, you've got to play with the cards you're dealt with, and that happens every year. You know, we definitely want to do that and there's no excuses whatsoever. There's no complaints.

It's our job to develop our players and get them ready to play and that's everybody on the team. When guys go down, the others have to be ready to play.

So yes, it creates some challenges, but you know what, I expect our guys to compete and work hard and get better and I expect us to play better. I expect us to take the field, and the guys that are out there want to get it done, show that they have toughness. Show that, you know, they are maybe more ready than people think and go out there and compete.

Now, you know, doesn't always happen perfectly, but you've got to adjust and you've got to hang in there. You can't give in. That's the one thing that, you know, we tell our football team, or I do, is that, you know, you have to really hate losing and it has to bother you. It has to really burn you inside to want to work to get it fixed.

Sometimes it doesn't get fixed right away, but if you stick to it and you work hard and if you do the best you can, hopefully good things happen, and I think that, you know, we want to take the field this week with a great attitude and practice, work hard, have fun competing, but push ourselves to get better, and whoever plays, we expect them to go out there and play the way they would want to, and we hope that they play well.

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