Football 9/19/2022 12:22:00 PM
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In his weekly press conference, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm talked about lessons learned from last weeks game before looking ahead to the Boilermakers’ Homecoming matchup with FAU on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Ross-Ade Stadium.
JEFF BROHM: Well, a lot to learn from the last game. So, before we move on to Florida Atlantic, obviously, we need to clean up a lot of things with our football team, and that’s kind of what this process has been since the last game.
It was a long day yesterday. Without question, penalties are hurting us, and you cannot win football games with the penalties that we’re getting. So, that has to get fixed, and that that starts with me. I have to make sure that happens, and we all need to do a better job, including myself, with making sure that we win the penalty battle.
Also, we want to learn to keep our mouth shut and just play football and play as hard as we can, play together, play as a unit, and let the pieces fall where they may.
So, those are things that we need to work hard to get better at. Football is a tough, physical, emotional game, and we’ve got to make sure we control our emotions at all times, no matter what’s going on.
We took a lot of time yesterday as a team, and I sat down in front of the whole team and staff, and we watched all of our penalties throughout the season. Identified them, talked about them, talked about what happened. It wasn’t a matter of whether we agreed with it or not. It was a matter of how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?
The 15-yard penalties, the unsportsmanlike penalties or the late-hit penalties are costing us. Quite honestly, a lot of defensive holding and pass interference calls are hurting us quite a bit. They have in two key, pivotal games.
So, as coaches, we have to look at exactly what we’re teaching and make sure that — we may have to alter and adjust what we’re teaching to make sure that we’re not getting those calls because we had two interceptions that we could have had that were critical that we didn’t get.
We had a third and ten on the last drive that we got called for a defensive holding the secondary away from the ball, which whether I agreed with it or our players did or not, it’s called. Those things are costly.
Just a lot of identifying the issues, the problems, and making sure we do our part to get that fixed.
As I told our team, if you look at our team last year, we averaged 4.4 penalties a game for 43 yards a game, and that’s really good. That’s probably why we won nine games, pure and simple, that right there.
Against Penn State we had 9 penalties for 92 yards. Against Syracuse, 13 for 138. Against good football teams like Penn State and Syracuse on the road, you’re not going to win those games.
Those are the main things that we’ve got to work on and make sure it doesn’t happen. That starts with me, so I have to do a better job. Much better job. Now it’s on to the next game.
We’ve got from here on out we have tough opponents every week. It starts with Florida Atlantic who is athletic, has played a lot of football, and it’s going to be a tough battle and a tough contest that we have to improve this week at all these small things that mean a lot and make sure we’re continuing to get better as a team.
So that’s going to be the focus this week, and we’re looking forward to getting back on the game field on Saturday.
Q. Coach, obviously, it’s going to be your last nonconference game early on this season. I guess, what do you need to see from the team? Obviously, you mentioned fixing up penalties, but I guess including that, what else do you kind of need to see from this team this upcoming week to be able to head into the rest of your Big Ten schedule feeling good about it?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I like the fight of our team. We’ve been competing in every game. We’ve had the lead, and we’ve found a way to fight for the lead and come back in the fourth quarter, which shows the team wants to win. It means something to them, and they have a lot of fight. Those are all positives.
We have to figure out ways to execute better and be more efficient while we’re cleaning up all those things, so that will be the main focus.
Q. After this week you’re going to be faced with a tough schedule. Three of the next four after this week you’re going to be on the road. Just how much are you going to be able to reflect on this past week against Syracuse as you kind of prepare for that heading into the rest of the season?
JEFF BROHM: Well, like I say, we know every game is going to be tough, and it starts with this week. This will be a tough opponent. If we don’t do these things I talked about, we’re not going to win the football game. That’s how football works nowadays.
But, we have to be man enough to make sure we communicate and talk about it and people understand what the issues are and how it needs to be fixed. Right now the complete focus is on those things and getting ready for Florida Atlantic, who has really good athletes and good players and they play good football teams, so we’re going on have to play well.
Q. Earlier in the week, can you give us an update on the status of Broc Thomas, King Doerue, I guess the protocol for them entering this week and trying to get them back onto the field?
JEFF BROHM: Well, we’re doing everything we can to get them back healthy. Broc, probably doubt, I guess, but I don’t know. We’ll see where that goes.
King, we’ll see how he progresses. Really those two are too early to tell, but for guys that have been injured, I’m not optimistic until they prove to me that they can play because you really can’t, at this level, not practice very much and play well. That’s what we need to make sure we do, is our guys get on the practice field and practice.
Q. Jeff, did you send any plays into the Big Ten office this week to have them look at?
JEFF BROHM: Yes, and there’s been communication with me on multiple things with the head of officials. Yes.
Q. Just your message to the team coming out of that game, 1-2. I know you want to stay positive. What do you tell the team? I guess, FAU, I know you don’t want to get beyond this weekend, but then you still have eight Big Ten games left, right?
JEFF BROHM: Well, that’s every year. We’ve had a bunch of years here where your backs are against the wall, and you have to find a way to win football games, and that’s how it’s really going to be every year.
To think that we’re going to be able to walk through teams ever is not going to happen. There’s good football teams across the country, definitely in our conference. If we don’t play well and efficient and eliminate the issues we’ve had, we’re not going to win any game. That’s just how football works.
Our guys understand that. At the same time if you are able to improve each week and get better at these things, anything can happen. So you just have to fight through it. It’s a tough gauntlet of teams every week. You’ve got to find ways to improve and get guys healthy and play sound, fundamental football and figure out a way to win in the fourth quarter.
Through three games and the two losses, we’ve had our chances to win. We didn’t close and finish the game.
Q. Florida Atlantic, you coached there in 2009 under Howard Schnellenberger. Just talk about what Coach Schnellenberger meant to you, Jeff. I know he signed you out of high school in 1989 and sure has had a big hand in shaping you not just as a player, but as a coach. Just talk about what he meant.
JEFF BROHM: Well, I think he is one of the greatest coaches of all time. I definitely wish they would put him in the Hall of Fame. He deserves to do that. He took a lot of programs that weren’t doing well, including Miami, and brought them to prominence.
It’s because of his leadership, his work ethic. He was a football guy, a true football guy. He worked under Paul “Bear” Bryant, and that’s how he ran his practices. Won a lot of football games a lot of places. Was schooled under Coach Bryant at the University of Alabama.
He was an offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, the only undefeated season in NFL history. He was under the Don Shula tree. And then, of course, he took Miami to a national championship when no one thought that could happen. Then, of course, he helped rebuild the Louisville football program and help start the Florida Atlantic football program out of nothing.
He knows how to build a program. He knows how to do it the right way. With him, you got no-nonsense. He was a football guy that loved the game. He was brash. He wasn’t scared to tell you what was going to happen. He knew how to build a team. He knew how to motivate a team.
To the public eye he may have said some outlandish things on the collision course with the national championship, all those thing. But, if you play for him, when you took the field, it doesn’t matter who you played, after you listened to him talk and after you listened to him talk to the public and say those things, you actually believed you could do it. So, you found yourself able to win more games than you probably should because you played with confidence and you didn’t back down.
Those are the main things. He treated me great as a player and a coach. Him and his family were really good people, and they meant a lot of to me. Definitely any time I coach, I think of a lot of things that he did and how and why he did it and try to do the best I can to emulate that.
Q. I know you don’t smoke a pipe like Coach Schnellenberger, but as a coach what in you do you think resonates saying, hey, I got this from Coach Schnellenberger?
JEFF BROHM: I think we have been able to win some games here that a lot of people didn’t think could happen and some big upsets, and that comes from Coach Schnellenberger, because that just doesn’t happen when you beat two top 5 teams, when you beat a No. 2 Ohio State like the way we did, when you find a way to come back with some missing pieces against Tennessee.
Really that’s just because our players believed that they could get it done. They put in the time. They put in the effort. We communicate what needs to be done, but when you take the field, whether you really think so or not, you have to make sure your team believes they can go get this done and that you have full confidence in them and that they have to believe in themselves. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen.
That’s what you try to do. You try to instill that in your team. You try to instill that into their everyday life. There’s a lot of things people can achieve if they put their mind to it. You hope that it carries over. You just do the best job you can, and you hope for the best.
I do think Coach Schnellenberger was the best at doing that I was around.
Q. What types of things are you seeing defenses try to do to slow Charlie down?
JEFF BROHM: I think that Charlie has proven what type of receiver he is. He has the ability to get open. He has the ability to make contested catches. He has the ability to run good routes.
He doesn’t have a fear to go over the middle. I think he plays as fast as he is. He has good hands. I just think that he has done a really good job to this point.
Yes, teams are trying to bracket him at times. I’m sure they’re going to try to bracket him more. Man-to-man he does a really good job of getting open, and even if he is not, we’re going to throw to him quite a bit as well.
I just think he has played hard. He practices every day. He works hard. He is hungry. He came here with a purpose and a reason to prove what he really could do, and those are the type of guys you want.
If you don’t have hungry guys on your football team, it doesn’t matter what you have done the year before or the year before. You’re not going to win. That’s just what we need to make sure all of our guys understand is that you have to be hungry and you have to be willing to work for it and you have to be willing to fight for it because you’re not going to get anything unless you go out and earn it.
Q. Just a couple of other guys personnel-wise, and it may be too early in the week. I guess Jalen Graham is probably still, I guess, recovering, if you will. And then Semisi Fakasiiekiki dressed but didn’t play Saturday. Any update on Elijah Canion or Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen? And I know Jamari Brown tweaked a knee, but came back in. His status?
JEFF BROHM: We have about five or six that as the week goes on, we’ll see if they’re available. I believe Jamari will be back. The others you mentioned are probably doubtful, but we’ll continue to work through it. That’s just the way it is.
But, yes, we would like for more guys to get out there on the field and play. At this time of the year you’re going to have some bruises, and you’re going to be beat a little bit. You’ve got to be able to play tough. Obviously, safely, but we want guys out there that want to compete.
Q. Back to Howard and Florida Atlantic. What’s it mean for you to play a program that he built from scratch and kind of left his mark at Florida Atlantic? Does that mean anything more this week to you?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I have a lot of respect for every football team, and definitely one that I coached at, definitely one that a mentor of mine built from scratch.
I know as well as anybody that Florida Atlantic has talent, and they always will because there’s a broad base of guys in the state of Florida that you can recruit. They do a great job with it. They’ve got really good facilities. They’re a half mile from the beach. It’s got everything you want. It’s a great place to live and hang out.
So, this is going to be a challenge. This team has good athletes, and they have size that you are supposed to have. They have good coaches.
So, just like every week, if we don’t get better at the things that have been biting us in the rear end and improve on becoming more efficient, we’re not going to win the football game.
Q. With the secondary, is there a change in technique that has to happen there to avoid some of these penalties or just harping on what you guys have been teaching since camp started?
JEFF BROHM: A couple of things on that. Yes, we have watched all the pass interference, defensive holdings that we’ve gotten. Whether we fully agree with them or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s what I told the team.
Some of these calls, it doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what I think. They’re being called.
I met with our coaches. We have to adjust slightly the technique we’re teaching and make sure that while we want to be physical, while we want to play aggressive, which is true, there can’t be excessive holding down field.
When the ball is in the air, we have to get our head around and play the ball, which that has hurt us as much as anything on a couple of pass interferences, not getting our head around playing the ball. We have to make sure that happens.
As we look at the game, the other thing, two-minute situations, end-of-the-game situations, we have to get better at that.
I think the Penn State game, if we look back, as we look back even before, they got some easy completions and marched down the field. You know what, it’s probably too soft. We need to figure out a way to play more aggressive and not give up these easy completions.
As you look at this game, while we played very good throughout the game for the most part, we really did, we shut the running back down, we held the passing game in check. Now, the quarterback run stuff, yeah, we need to be better at containing him, but overall we did a pretty good job, but the last drive was not good.
We were too aggressive in our calls. We were in man-to-man technique, and we got beat. We have to be smarter and make sure that there’s that fine line and balance. As I talk with Coach English, we fully agree and understand that, and we have to make sure we have — which we work quite a bit on Sunday — having a proper menu that has the ability to know the exact situation.
Do we have a lead? Do we not have a lead? How much time is on the clock? And ways to cover guys and then ways to cover them a little more aggressive, but maybe a little more help over the top if we’re wanting to do that.
Q. When Payne Durham is involved in the offense as much as he was Saturday, what does that mean for the entire group, and where can that take you when you have him working the middle of the field the way that he was doing it?
JEFF BROHM: Well, Payne played really well. We wanted to get him more involved. We wanted to utilize his talents. He is tough. He has played a lot of football. He is a good leader. He is upset at the way it ended as much as anybody.
But, we’re thin at that position, and he has been nicked up a little bit, so we try to take care of him to a certain degree. We’ve got to have him.
He’s one of our most experienced guys on that side of the ball, and we’ve got to make sure he’s involved, and he is getting his touches as well. Sometimes it’s not easy to get everybody their touches, but we have to make sure that we just get it done and that we at least target him or he’s number one in the progression at times.
We utilize him in between the hashes, into the flat, on some quick play action, all those things because he is effective, he has been there, and he has experience.
Q. Even as King comes back this week, will Devin Mockobee still be a bigger part of the plan, and what did he show you on Saturday in really his first extended playing time against a quality foe?
JEFF BROHM: Well, he has done a good job, and he will continue to be a part of the offense and be in the mix as we look back. He runs hard. He has some slipperiness to him, and he goes as fast as he can.
You know, there are some things we have to clean up: pass protection and things like that where some of these young guys have to understand how important that is.
But, he has worked hard, and he is still really a freshman, so he just has to continue to learn and understand all the intricacies of the defense and how to pick things up and how to see it and how to still play fast at the same time.
Q. Just with the transfer portal, I know you like going and getting players out of the portal, but as this thing continues to evolve, should there be any kind of limit on intraconference transfers, or if you are going to have the full transfer portal, it has to be open to everybody and every school?
JEFF BROHM: Well, once again, it doesn’t matter what I think. I don’t think that will happen. I think it’s going to be a transfer portal that if someone is in the portal, anybody can go get them, as far as I understand at this point.
Now, there are things that come up once a month that are new that I haven’t heard of that are continuing to evolve and develop on some slight rules to that, which I’m not in full agreement with. But, as far as intraconference and those things, I think it will be free rein to go after anybody in the transfer portal.
Q. Second week in a row that you’ve had — I guess you probably have it every week, but a quarterback/running back combination in Florida Atlantic. What do they bring specifically in terms of their scheme that is going to be a challenge for your defense?
JEFF BROHM: Any time you have a good, athletic quarterback and skill players, you’ve got to account for them. If there’s one thing we need to get better as a defense, it’s containing the quarterback and making sure that he doesn’t beat us with his feet.
If you look at both losses, if you had to knit-pick the Penn State quarterback had too much room in rushing lanes. He was able to scramble, buy time. We weren’t able to affect him as much as we should. We worked a little harder to improve that.
Obviously, the second week we got better at it, but as we moved on to Syracuse, their quarterback did a pretty good job. Now, he didn’t get many big runs, but he was able to pull the ball, and he is able to tuck it down. We were a little better in our pass rush lanes, but at the same time we just have to continue to work on it and make sure that we’re getting off blocks, we’re pushing the pocket.
While we blitzed more, I didn’t think our linebackers were effective blitzing. I didn’t think they did a good job. They weren’t slippery. They didn’t get off blocks. They didn’t find a way to get in there. That was disappointing.
Now, they played hard, but we were not good as far as them winning any matchups when we blitzed them, and we blitzed them quite a bit this past game to try to affect the quarterback and get in his vision. That’s something we have to work hard to improve at.
Q. I couldn’t find it when I read the rule book this weekend, but does college football have a version of the tuck rule?
JEFF BROHM: Well, I don’t know. I mean, if you ask my opinion, I don’t think he was throwing the ball. He was bringing his other hand to tuck the ball back away. I don’t think he was attempting a pass, but once again, that got overturned even though I didn’t agree with it.
As far as the true tuck rule in college football, no, I don’t know exactly how that reads. To me it was a fumble and shouldn’t have been overturned, but they overturned it, so they must have thought he was passing, I guess.
Q. And then, you already talked about the coverage on the last play. Where do you find that balance between giving up the easy completions, you said against Penn State, but then being too aggressive at the end against Syracuse?
JEFF BROHM: We, obviously, that wasn’t something we did well. So, all yesterday I got with Coach English and some guys on the defensive staff, and we watched those aspects and what went down.
As we evaluated Penn State, they were able to complete a little perimeter throw. They were able to complete a little spot throw at 5 yards into the boundary. They were able to complete a field hitch where we missed a tackle and got down the field on three easy, simple throws.
So you look at those calls, and while you think they’re pretty good calls, there was too much cushion. As we went into this game, we did play a little more man than we had in the past. It was effective throughout the game. They did not get many passing yards.
At the end of the game when you have a lead, there has to be a fine line of knowing, okay, we’ve got to be able to play coverage with zone and zone eyes, but still cover down on all receivers and maybe not be cheating into the box for the run. Just you have to give up the run. You’ve got to be able to cover all receivers with zone eyes behind.
Then if you want to mix in tighter coverage with man, you may need two safeties in the back and not one. We went from probably not being aggressive enough to the next time being too aggressive, and it didn’t work out for us.
Q. Last week, again, did you think Payne merited that unsportsmanlike call, and do you think you did, too? I guess I’m not really sure what you did and what —
JEFF BROHM: If you are asking my opinion, no, I don’t think any of those two were merited at all. As you look at the film, we get a 15-yard penalty on an extra point with 50 seconds left in the game.
When as you look at the film, the film shows an extra point, a slight push of the other player into Payne and then both guys start jawing at each other helmet-to-helmet. Not extensive, but it’s jawing for maybe five seconds.
Then you see them start to separate on film, and then the film cuts off. At the time the referee was moving that way, but hadn’t thrown a flag. I assume he threw a flag after.
So, at the time I didn’t know what the flag was for. I was trying to find out can you explain the call? We had a lull in action. We just had an extra point. There’s a commercial break. We haven’t kicked off yet. So you would think someone would come and explain the call to me.
Anyway, I asked Payne, he said, Coach, I didn’t touch him. The guy pushed me a little bit, and then we jawed a little bit.
I had to take him for his word, but I was trying to find out from the referee: Hey, what? Can you explain the call? What made you call this call? Did he say something that was just really, really bad?
That’s what maybe I thought. Did he use some language that was just totally — because from what I saw, what I was told.
So, as I’m trying to waive to the official who is in the very back end zone, the head referee, to come talk to me, yeah, I probably was a couple of yards on the field, but it was a break in action, the game wasn’t going on. Then, all of a sudden I see a flag thrown from down the sideline. A guy looked like he was close to the end zone, and I just assumed it was on me even though there’s no way that — I’ve done way worse than that.
To me to make two 15-yard penalty calls at that juncture, do I agree with it? No, not at all. Now, with that said, it happened, so it’s my fault. It’s Payne’s fault. We have to take responsibility for it, and we have to be accountable for it and make sure it never happens again.
So, that was addressed with the team, and I apologized to the team for that flag and got to make sure that never happens again.
We have to adjust and make sure that we talked about this as a team as well. The chatter has to stop. It has to stop in practice.
Being able to play with your own personality to a certain degree and let guys play, no, you have to keep your mouth shut. You have to keep your mouth shut and play football.
You have to limit any celebrations. You can congratulate your teammates on plays. No, you can’t be celebrating either. We cannot get any more 15-yard penalties, including myself, including sideline warnings and on the field, those type of things.
We just have to be really, really by the book and keep our mouth shut and coach and play football.
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