JEFF BROHM: Well, we’re definitely proud of our football team and our players and coaching staff for this past game. It was a really good win for our program. But we’re on to the next one. As you guys know, we had a pretty big win a couple years ago and followed it up with a loss at Michigan State.
We’re getting ready to face a team that we haven’t beat here at Purdue in a long time. I know they have a couple losses, but all their losses are to top 10 or top 12 teams in the country. They’re very talented. They’re big and strong. They play great defense. They always have. They run the football. They’re physical. They’re big up front. They control the ball and limit possessions. They’re a really good football team. So it’s a tough match-up for us.
We have a lot of work to do this week, and we’re looking forward to figuring out ways to get better and trying to come up with a win on Saturday.
We understand that it’s a tough challenge for us, and we’re facing a really good football team that we have to find a way to beat.
Q. You talked about Wisconsin; how have they changed offensively or have they changed any offensively, what they try to do based on maybe not quite as strong a running backs situation, but they still had a lot of yards against Army this past week. Anything you see different in what Coach Chryst is trying to do?
JEFF BROHM: I don’t see a whole lot different. Right now they build their team on great defensive play, and they can still continue to do that. They challenge routes. They make you earn everything. They load the box. They bring a lot of different pressures, simulated pressures, dropping-ins, bringing linebackers, bringing safeties, but they play an aggressive style of defense and they’ve always been really good and they’ve continued to do that this year offensively. It’s just like any team that can run the football, if they get down a little bit then they have to throw a little bit more than they want, but they were running the football and they have a good transfer running back and some other guys that have done well for them, and that’s what they believe in is running the ball, a little play action off of it and great defense and being big and physical and strong up front, and they continue to be very good at that.
Q. What’s it mean to be ranked for the first time in 14 years?
JEFF BROHM: Well, as you guys know, that’s great for our program and great for our fans. When it comes to us coaches and players, we have to understand that it’s a one-game season. While last week’s win was a big win, it counts as just one, and we’ve got to move on. We’ve got to figure out ways to be consistent and get better and execute at a high level and raise the bar. There’s plenty of challenges ahead because we know we have a great schedule, and for us, it’s really just Wisconsin right now.
This is a team that we haven’t beaten in a while, and deservedly so. They deserve all the credit. They’re a very good football team and well-coached and have been good for a long time, and we’ll have our hands full.
Those things, where you’re ranked, really don’t matter for us until the end of the season. It’s about trying to gain a victory and beat a really good team.
Q. Upon further review of the film, the three-quarterback system, what are your thoughts after watching film, and is it something you think you’ll continue to roll with?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think as we watch the film, probably overall it was the best execution we had all year long in all segments, even though some can continue to get better without question. It’s about scoring points, scoring in the red zone, moving the ball, getting 1st downs, whatever it takes to do that, we’re going to do it. I do think that all of our quarterbacks provide an element that can help us win. We’re not real deep at running back, so there’s things that we’ve got to do to try to move the chains on the ground.
Luckily for us, a little bit of that worked, but we’ve got to just continue to execute and make plays, and our defense has played really good to this point. We want to continue to build on that, and they need to continue to raise the bar. We did a much better job of not getting plays over our head at safety, did a much better job of getting pressure on the quarterback, getting sacks and of course turnovers, and even though a lot of the turnovers happened at the end, we still got a turnover that helped us, and then when they had to throw it more than they wanted, we were able to get turnovers then.
Credit to that, and of course special teams there’s some areas that we for sure have to get better at and improve, and we’ll work hard at doing that.
Q. Any update on Zander Horvath? It looked like late Garrett Miller got hurt. Did you come out pretty healthy or did you have some attrition?
JEFF BROHM: Zander, I’m not optimistic. We’ll continue to work through that for this week. Garrett did get nicked up. He’s going through some tests today. We’ll see how that goes. Payne Durham was a little nicked up. We’re optimistic he’ll be back. Jack Sullivan got a little nicked up but came back in the game, and then DaMarcus Mitchell, I think he played one play, wasn’t able to play, so hopefully we’ll try to get him back this week.
Q. What has this new defensive staff meant to the development of this defense?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I was proud of all of our coaches, a lot of guys who have been with me for a long time. They work really hard. They do a great job, so I was proud of them. All the new additions we’ve had to our staff in every capacity this past year have done exactly what we had hoped. They’re great people first. They do things the right way. They care about our players. They care about doing things to help our players and our team have success, and then they’re really good football coaches, as well.
I think they’ve come in here and they work well together. Our staff gets along and can work well together and push each other and offer suggestions and not be afraid to speak up when they have to. It’s more than one voice, and that’s kind of what you have to have when you have a productive staff is guys that are willing to speak their mind and help the team get better no matter what that is and don’t really care who gets the credit, as long as we get the win. That’s kind of what we’re looking for.
Yeah, I’m very proud of what they did this past week and up to this point.
Q. Just going back to Saturday, you get off the plane, you’re met with tons of fans ready there to celebrate the victory with you guys. Just what was that moment like for you and your players after beating Iowa?
JEFF BROHM: Well, that was a great moment. All of our home games we’ve had great turnouts, great support. Our players feel it and our coaches feel it. When you come back after a big win and you feel like you accomplished something, to have that many people turn out at the airport at 11:00 p.m. and be there to support the team, had great energy and was fired up, yeah, it was a great sight. Thankful for the fans and their support.
You know, our guys understand if you can achieve some things, it makes a whole lot of people happy, and you want to represent the school and your football team and all the alumni as best you can, and you do that by working hard, putting your head down, grinding away, not allowing the hand to be patted on your back by yourself and your family and your buddies too much after a win and being able to grind just as hard as you did the week before, understanding that it’s going to take that much work if not more to dig deep and understand if you really want to win, you’ve got to really hate losing, and you don’t want that feeling again. So what are you going to do to get that done.
Hopefully we can back it up with another good performance, but that’s the challenge, and really that’s college football. Every week is competitive. Every week you face a really good opponent, and you’ve got to be ready to go. The maturity level needs to set in. We have to have that same deep hunger and that fuel in our belly to want to put in a lot of hard work just to give ourselves a chance, and then of course come game day, you’ve got to believe you can do it, and then you’ve still got to go out and find a way to do it. All those things have to happen.
We’ve got to get back to reality and understand all the work it’s going to take in order to pull out a victory.
Q. You’ve already talked about the strengths of Wisconsin a little bit, running the ball, good defense, physical up front, a lot of the same strengths that Iowa has, but obviously you haven’t played as well against Wisconsin as you guys have against Iowa. What are the differences in those two teams that maybe you’ve struggled the past few years against this Wisconsin team?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think Wisconsin’s defense is a different setup than Iowa. Wisconsin is going to put more guys in the box. They’re going to not give easy completions. They’re going to challenge every route. They’re going to blitz from all over. They’re going to use simulated blitzes and drop guys in coverage and try to fool the quarterback. They’re going to disguise things. Their defensive coordinator does a tremendous job, and that’s why the Green Bay Packers wanted to hire him. Unfortunately for us, he decided to stay. But he’s a great coach, and they’ve just been great on defense every year. They’ve continued to do that.
With that, everything ties together. They want to run the ball. They want to be physical up front. They have the hosses up front to do that, and then they want to be good on play action and good on 3rd down.
You know what, all three losses they played really good teams, when you play Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame, so you know what, they’re battle tested, and even were before then. They’ve always played really good teams and played at a high level. I’m sure they’ll come in here very confident because they believe in themselves and what they can do.
That’s why it’ll be a tough contest for us, because it’s a tough match-up. We have to figure out ways to score points. We have to figure out ways to — against these type of teams you’ve got to figure out a way to get a lead and you’ve got to make them do some things that they’re not comfortable doing. If not, you’re going to be in for a long day.
Luckily for us this past game, our guys executed, the ball bounced our way to be quite honest about it. We got a few calls that went in our direction instead of the other and we found a way to get a lead. When that happened, then you saw us pull away a little bit because we forced Iowa to do some things they weren’t comfortable doing.
It takes all those things to beat a team like that, and if not, you can be in for a long day.
Q. You mentioned the victory over Ohio State, then coming back the next week and losing to Michigan State. As you reflect back on that situation, what did you learn about that next week and how to get your team ready to go after such a big win that you might apply to this week?
JEFF BROHM: Well, you bring up what has happened in the past, and some of our guys that are on our team now were on the team then, and you realize that you’ve got to continue to grind, and you’ve got to wipe that feeling away after 24 hours and get back to work. In all reality, in my opinion, that’s some of it.
The other part of it is, you know what, we’re going to play good teams every week from here on out. Going on the road to Michigan State isn’t an easy place to go to win. Playing at home is better, but playing Wisconsin, who we haven’t beat in a long time, we have a tall task.
A lot of factors factor into it, so really it comes down to preparation and execution and coaching and guys that are willing to pay the price, so we can talk about it all we want, and we can work on it, but at the same time this is a really good football team that we’ve got to play well to win.
Q. You’ve talked throughout the off-season about the process of bringing in your new defensive staff, but what made these three guys really — what made the three veteran guys, really the guys that rose to the top of your list, guys that you knew would do the things that you needed them to do?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think I’ve talked about it before, but the first thing I wanted to do is hire great people, people that have always done things the right way. When you talk to people and ask questions about them, you hear a lot of great things, nothing negative. That was the goal. If I got some bad information, I wasn’t going that direction. So we wanted to make sure that whoever we brought in had a great reputation as being a really good person, treated people right, right morals and values and just held to a high standard.
Luckily for us, that was the number one thing for me, and I think if you start with Brad Lambert, great person — I had known him a little bit before, and always friendly and nice in an outwardly way and just a quality person, and at the same time, then you factor in, okay, the guy has played football, coached football for a long time and has been a lot of really good places and done some good things, so here we go, this is my guy, let’s go with it.
Then you look at Ron English, who I had a chance to coach with, has been a head coach, as well, and defensive coordinator in the Big Ten. I’ve always liked Ron and he’s got energy and enthusiasm. I tried to hire him the year before, and it didn’t work. He was at Florida at the time. You know what, he’s come in and fit in extremely well.
Then you go to Mark Hagen, and he’s a football guy. He loves football. He loves coaching the D-line. He’s from the state of Indiana, played at Indiana, has ties to Purdue, was with Coach Tiller. Anybody you talk to him about said the same thing: This guy is a worker, he’s a grinder, he’s going to do anything he can to help his guys achieve success. Heard a lot of great things there.
Then of course we brought in James Adams, as well, who that’s kind of what I was looking for at that position, a great person, and when I called and talked to a ton of people, that’s the information I got. He’s a little younger, but you know what, he fits in perfect. He treats our guys great. Our players love him.
Really you bring in a combination of really good people that know how this process is going to work, that it’s going to be a collaborative effort, that here’s the things I want done, and of course we’ll have creativity and bring all your ideas to the table, but there is going to be a format in the way things are run, and these guys just work extremely well with me and all of our coaches, and they’re really good people.
Those are the guys you want to go to work with every day.
Q. Are you still involved at the same level you were in the off-season and the beginning of the year?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I give a lot of credit to our defensive coaches. They do a great job. Now, as we talked before, from the end of the last play of the last game last year, it was about getting better and getting better on defense was the number one goal, with a lot of goals. We’ve got to get better at every aspect.
I kind of knew what I wanted, the terminology I wanted, what I wanted to do, and it was not just me, it was through film study and what other good teams are doing and what teams were doing against us.
So when all of our guys came in, we met together and we did a lot of work and did a lot of preparation and kind of mapped out what we wanted to do in general and in certain situations, and of course any ideas that wanted to be brought to the table, that’s great, bring them to the table, let’s get it mapped out. On defense, once you kind of get that plan in, then it’s about just kind of carrying it out and if you need to alter it here and there.
But we’ve still got a lot of defense that we haven’t ran that we put in a while back. If we need to use it, we’ll use it. If we don’t need to use it, we won’t. There’s certain things we’re doing really well right now that you don’t want to get away with what you’re doing. Defense you can have some complexity to it, but at the same time there’s some simplicity to it that is good. If this is working and guys are good with it and you’ve repped it a lot, you need to stick with it, and of course add a few adjustments along the way.
I like the way we’ve been playing, about challenging things and being aggressive up front and about trying to stop the run and not giving up a lot of easy completions, and those are all things we want to build on, and of course there are times when you’ve got to pull back and not give up big plays and those things, but we want to swing and be aggressive in our approach at the plate and take chances and go for the win and let our guys know that they can do that, go for the interception, go for the turnover, go for the tackle, be aggressive, come off the line of scrimmage, all those things.
So I just think to this point, things have gone well on that side of the ball, and we’ve got to continue to build on that. There’s still sort of things we can get better at, but we’ve allowed some of our really good players to go out there and shine, as well. We wanted to make sure we did that, also.
Q. During your off week you said you went extensive study on red zone and offense and all that kind of stuff. Where in all that study did you find a team playing three quarterbacks on one drive?
JEFF BROHM: Well, like I said, we learned a lot from studying ourselves in the past and then we looked at a lot of other successful teams in college and the NFL and what they were doing, and there were some things that you thought you might add to the piece, but at the same time it wasn’t a revelation.
It’s about just trying to utilize your talent to the best that you can while incorporating plays. So it’s not all about plays, but plays do help. As a former player, you need a combination of both.
I just thought we needed — there’s certain limitations certain guys have, and we wanted to make sure that we utilized all of our talent. Just like I said after the game, I didn’t know three quarterbacks were going to work or not work. Sometimes it can look really good and sometimes it’s a complete bust, so it’s the chance you take. But I really felt that when it comes to quarterback play, we had a great competition in the spring and summer and fall, and it was close, always it was close.
Each of them have some different strengths. Certain guys can do something better and certain guys can’t.
We wanted to try to — I wanted to try to piece that together a little bit. I think luckily for us as pass came, it kind of gave us some mojo; it kind of gave us a little excitement; it kind of got more people involved. The unselfishness from our quarterbacks really stood out. They didn’t care who was in there, as long as they got a chance to go out there and play a little bit and have fun, they were excited about it.
I even had Aidan O’Connell suggesting one of the other quarterbacks go in as we got closer to the goal line on an occasion this past game. So it was kind of refreshing and heartwarming to hear really what special type of quarterbacks we have that just want to win and want all of our guys to have success. So I give, like I said, my brother Brian a lot of credit and our quarterback room a lot of credit because they just want to win. We try to have a little fun with it.
But no, I wasn’t for sure I was going to have any success, but we rode with it, and I thought a little bit of that worked.
Q. You said after the game you were a bit mentally exhausted from trying to figure out all that kind of stuff. What do you learn from that experience where you’re not in the same spot on Saturday?
JEFF BROHM: Well, sometimes when you’re calling plays and you’ve got to call them for different quarterbacks, it’s a little tougher — it can be tough, so you just kind of have to have the package ready in your head, and on paper is great, but sometimes you’ve got to know it and you’ve got to know when to do it.
It wasn’t an exact science. It wasn’t something I had really done a whole lot before. There was a little stress involved just making sure I picked the right time and moment.
But some of that is you’ve just got to roll with it and be aggressive, and our guys really did a good job executing it.
Q. Can you explain the logic behind that rule where if you fumble down in the end zone, it’s a touchback? Is it because they’re worried about people fumbling intentionally in the end zone and recovering it? What is the thought process in making that such a punitive penalty?
JEFF BROHM: Well, that’s a good question. I wish I had a good answer for you. I can’t say one way or the other whether I think it’s a good rule or not. Of course when it happens against you it’s not a really good rule because you’re this far from scoring; all of a sudden now you get nothing and they get the ball.
It’s something that as a staff we really have talked about a lot, even I’ll bring up Coach Levine. He’ll text us all the time, and we used to show clips of when do you reach the ball for the end zone and when do you not, because a lot of times when you do it, it gets knocked out, and you’ve got to make sure if you’re going to do it — we’ve talked about it, and we work at it. It’s got to be two hands on it and you have to secure it all the way down to the ground. If not, those things can happen.
We’ve had those things happen before. When you go to reach it out with one hand, you’re taking a big risk because it can get knocked out before you hit the ground or cross the goal line. If we do it, we’d really like for it to be two hands and you’ve got to make sure that there’s two hands on it all the way until you hit the ground, otherwise that can happen, which did.
Of course T.J., he’s this close to the end zone, he wants to score, he probably felt he needed to give it a shot with one hand, and unfortunately, whether it just came out of his hand or the pile knocked it out of his hand, I’m not really for sure, but it came out before he hit the ground and crossed the goal line, and it didn’t work our way.
That could have really set the tone even more, but I don’t know if they’re going to change that rule, so that one I really haven’t thought of why they do that, but it’s kind of — you fumble through the end zone, it’s to the other team. So it’s a good question.