WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Following a 27-13 loss on the road for Purdue against Notre Dame, coach Jeff Brohm met with the local media Monday to further discuss the defeat and talk about the team's upcoming Big Ten matchup with Illinois.
Here's a look at the highlights of what Brohm had to say ahead of Purdue's conference opener, plus a transcript of the press conference. Check it out:
JEFF BROHM: We're looking forward to a conference game number one of nine in a row here at home coming up. We're excited to get that under way. We know from here on out we have got to play well to win. We have got to keep working hard on making improvements and getting better, continuing to try to play as hard as we can, just be more efficient in some of the things we're doing.
So there's plenty of things to work on, which we're going to work hard this week on from improving this past week, but I do think our guys played hard, gave us really good effort. They want to win. They want to continue to get better and we're looking forward to starting off against an Illinois team that is much better this year. They've played a lot of good football. They got one conference win against Nebraska already. They had Maryland 17-10 with about four minutes left in the game, unfortunately didn't win. So it's going to be a tough contest that we have got to play well and execute in order to win.
Q. Update on David Bell?
JEFF BROHM: So David Bell is in concussion protocol and we'll continue to take him through the process and hope that he gets better each and every day.
Q. So this could be a situation where you may not know until Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday?
JEFF BROHM: Correct, yeah, it will go through the normal concussion protocol and pass a series of tests and doing some different things and seeing how he progresses.
Q. Is he the type of player that you would need to see him practice before he would play or, for example, if he got cleared Friday or Saturday morning, would you feel comfortable putting him out there?
JEFF BROHM: Well, he's the type of player that he doesn't have to practice a whole lot at all other than making sure he's feeling right and feeling good and in good condition, in good shape. So I think we'll monitor that obviously extremely closely this week and hope to get him out there whenever he can go.
Q. If he can't go, what does that do to your receiver room and as far as the pecking order now?
JEFF BROHM: Well, it will be next man up. We do, unfortunately, we did have some injuries this past game, Mershawn Rice will be out for an extended period of time, which he would have been the next man up, has been playing good football.
Jack Cravaack will be out the rest of the year, hurt his knee. DJ Washington injured a toe. He'll be out for an extended period of time. And I think those are the main ones.
Q. But as far as the receivers, who would you be looking for beyond David and Mershawn to fill the voids there?
JEFF BROHM: Well, the rotation we had been having was David, backed up by Mershawn Rice. We have Milton Wright backed up by Broc Thompson. We saw Abdur get in the game a little bit. He would be one of the next men up there. Jackson Anthrop and TJ Sheffield in the slot.
Q. With Mershawn, what is his injury?
JEFF BROHM: Foot.
Q. Just as you go back and look at that tape from Saturday, were you encouraged by some things that can maybe propel this team as you start the Big Ten season?
JEFF BROHM: Well, without question, we had the ability to take advantage and capitalize on some opportunities that we did not early on. You know, not converting on short yardage situations throughout the first half was disappointing. Not converting on fourth and one was disappointing. Definitely hurt us. We were in good field position, had control of the game.
So that was -- defensively, we played very well other than about five or six really big plays. And a couple of them really shouldn't happen. We gave up a slant when we should just sit there on the inside of them and take it away on a blitz we had on, it might have been a fourth down for them too, either third or fourth down. We gave up a wide open post, which we were in zone coverage, there should be a safety right there. So that was a huge mistake. We didn't tackle a runner on a lot of guys up in the box where he slid through there and went for a long touchdown.
So those were the three huge miscues that we had that we need to get cleaned up.
Offensively, came out in the second half and got 10 points in our first two drives, dropped a third down conversion going in to score that could have helped us possibly get in the end zone.
So they fought hard. Our guys played hard to the end, but in order to beat a really good football team, you got to execute throughout the entire game. All three segments had to be hitting on all cylinders. Special teams, we didn't punt the ball we needed to, and that was disappointing. We caught a punt going into the end zone, which was disappointing. I don't think returning kicks, we took advantage of that, so we'll make some adjustments there, as well, on that team.
Q. With the punting situation, open competition this week?
JEFF BROHM: Well, it's always open competition at our punter position. They know that. If one punter's hot, we're going to continue to ride him. If not we have another punter who can punt pretty well and he came in and put one out there and unfortunately didn't do it the next time.
What we have seen in practice, unfortunately, has been some really good punting that just needs to carry over to the game. So whether it's the ability to relax and just go out there and make it happen, whether it's us as coaches figuring out a way to give them less things to do and think about instead of maybe putting it in a certain area of the field, just punt it far and long and with some hang time, so simplifying it as much as we can. Just a lot of little things that we have to think of in order to get our punters punting that the way they do in practice.
Q. Just with Illinois, what is the Bret Bielema stamp on them right now or just kind of how you view what has happened in their first four games?
JEFF BROHM: Well, they're very competitive this year. Without question, they're playing better football. They play hard. They play aggressive. They play with great energy.
Defensively they give you a lot of different looks. Each week it's going to be a little bit different. So I think they have come out with the aggressive approach and they did a really good job of that in stopping Nebraska.
Against Maryland they changed it up and played the pass and did a really good job against them holding them to 10 points until about two and a half minutes left in the game.
So they have the ability to do a lot of things. I think they're well coached and they play hard and they play with aggression and they have got a good front four. So we'll have our hands full. We got to execute and play better. And on offense they're going to try to be physical, run the football, play action off of it, and not turn the ball over.
Q. As you went back and looked at Jamari Brown, anything stand out about what he did in Cory's as Cory's replacement on sat a day?
JEFF BROHM: I thought Jamari played really well. It was very encouraging because we did have concerns at that position. He did not have a whole lot of experience for us. He had been injured through camp. But he's a bigger corner with some physicality that can continue to get better. But he definitely challenged routes. He was able to lock down people one-on-one when we needed him to and did a really good job.
So I'm hopeful that he keeps that same hunger and he understands that his goal should be to try to raise the bar on his performance and do even better because he's going to have plenty of opportunities to do that.
Q. Is there any timeline on Cory Trice, if he'll come back or not?
JEFF BROHM: You know what, it's an ankle, so I'm going to guess anywhere to two to four weeks.
Q. I know after the game, you said Jack Plummer's still the quarterback. You had a chance to look at the film and everything. Is that still the case? How is that position sort out coming into this week?
JEFF BROHM: Well, Jack Plummer will be our starter. Like every game, we will have the ability to play multiple quarterbacks and we won't hesitate to do that. We have got a good quarterback room. We definitely have two guys with a lot of experience that can do different things for us.
Jack played a good game. Could he have played better? Sure, he could have. But he was under some duress and he had to make some throws off his back foot and he had to stand in there quite a bit and take some hits and did a decent job.
Aidan came in, threw the ball really well. Unfortunately, going into score to cut the game to within seven again, we kind of dropped a touchdown pass that wasn't an easy catch, but I think just Payne was really tired and didn't find a way to bring in that ball that hit him in the hands, and then we had the interception late in the game.
So both guys have played for us and have played good football, and like every position on our team, if we have a position we feel good about, we're not going to be afraid to play multiple guys.
Q. Who would be your third cornerback right now?
JEFF BROHM: Third cornerback? Well, right now Anthony Romphf has worked that position and we worked him out in the corner position, so one of those two.
Q. Do you think the team is ready for Big Ten play here?
JEFF BROHM: Well, we better be ready for Big Ten play. That's what we have worked hard for. We've played three non-conference games, found a way to come out 2-1, winning against a really good football team last week at their place. Didn't play good enough to win, so there's a lot of things to learn, a lot of areas to improve.
And just like I told our team, the rest of the path is just going to be just like the last game, and in order for us to win, we have got to be on all cylinders. We got to do a good job coaching. We got to do a good job of playing aggressive. We got to do a good job of having some creativity. We got to try to win in all three segments of the game, and that's just how football works, and we have got to work hard to make improvements, but when we take the field, we got to play confident and go out there and play aggressive and play for the win and hope to win.
But every week of this conference season from here on out is going to be a tough opponent and in order for to us win we have to play well, bottom line.
Q. After watching film, what did you think of the offensive line?
JEFF BROHM: I thought our offensive line played hard. We were going against a front that was better than what we had seen to this point. They gave us good effort. Did we get some push? Did we get some guys coming in there quicker than we would like? Sure we did.
So once again we have got to figure out ways to keep a few extra guys in to protect every now and then. We got to figure out a few ways to move the pocket little bit more. We got to figure out a few ways to get some better runs mixed in. We got to figure out a few was to get some creative plays to help us.
All those things have to happen in order for us to be more efficient.
Q. As your team prepares to try and bounce back this upcoming week, just how big is it for you guys to get back in front of a home crowd these next couple weeks?
JEFF BROHM: Well, we're definitely excited to play in front of our home crowd. It was great the last game. I know they will be excited and jacked up again. Our players respond to that.
But this is what college football's all about. We've got nine conference games in a row. Every one will be a challenge. You got try to win the games that you have at home. But in the end, it's all about executing, playing hard, playing confident, and doing the best job we can at going for the win and hoping when the game's over we have more points than they do.
Q. Obviously, Illinois hasn't been on the winning side of things these last few weeks, but with them having a taste of Big Ten play already, just how do you think that kind of prepares them to come into West Lafayette and challenge your team?
JEFF BROHM: Well, they're definitely prepared to come in. They're 1-1 in the conference, could easily be 2-0. They let one slip away against Maryland. They're playing competitive football. They play aggressive. They're a physical football team. They're going to be hungry.
When you watch them on video, they play with great energy and they play hard and that's a key component that they already have. So we'll have our hands full and we have got a lot of work to do to get this week to get better and we have got to go out and play well on Saturday.
Q. What's your diagnosis on Milton's struggles this season?
JEFF BROHM: Milton Wright is actually one of our hardest working players during practice. He goes a hundred miles an hour. He doesn't take plays off. When he gets nicked up he wants to practice and he does. So I applaud him. He gives us everything he has. We need to just continue to work hard on building his confidence back up so that he can make some really routine catches that he would normally make. So he's had a couple this year that he would like to have back, but he had plenty of opportunities this past game and I think he's just got to trust his preparation when it comes down to it, keep it simple, see the ball in, see the catch, see the tuck, and do it on every play. So he'll work hard at it and we need him to step up and do a great job for us.
Q. Does being down Rice and maybe being down David bring any of those other young receivers into the kind of that strata where they might be in your two deep this week, whether it's Rahmaan Yaseen, Collin Sullivan, any of those guys?
JEFF BROHM: Well right now Abdur got in the game a little bit. He's played. I think Collin Sullivan will be the next man up after that. I think Preston Terrell will be the next man up after that.
Q. The 2001 Rose Bowl team's coming back and obviously your focus is playing Illinois, but what does that mean for the program, Drew Brees and company, Matt White, etcetera. Will they have an opportunity to be in front of the team at all this week?
JEFF BROHM: Yeah, I think. So I think we have worked on setting up a time for that to happen. But those are great football teams. To win the Big Ten is a tremendous accomplishment. They did it with great players and a great team chemistry and pulled off some great victories. Everybody on a team strives to get that done, so we have got an opportunity this year to play nine conference games in a row, starts off at home and we have got to take it one game at a time. But for us it's, we have got to build on the good things we have done, improve on the things that we need to do better and come out and play for the win.
Q. Did Garrett Miller come out okay from Saturday?
JEFF BROHM: Garrett was nicked up, recovering from an injury. I think he'll be more healthy this week. He wasn't able to play a whole lot last week. Will he be a hundred percent? Probably not. But I think we can use him more this week.
Q. Who else do you think you'll use at kick returner?
JEFF BROHM: Well TJ Sheffield, Jackson Anthrop, Marcellus Moore have been the main guys back there. On kickoffs we have used King as well with those. Those would be the main ones we would focus on.
Q. Talk about Jalen Graham's performance Saturday. Looked like he stood out and you guys held that Notre Dame tight end in check.
JEFF BROHM: Well I think Jalen's a big-time player, he's continued to get better each and every year. He's a big, physical presence that has athleticism. We brought him in as a safety, actually played quarterback in high school. He's got length. We knew going into the game the key was him getting his hands on the tight end and guarding him from there. We feel like he would do a very good job, which he did. The more space you gave that NFL tight end the better he's going to be. So I thought Jalen was outstanding in his coverage of him, did a very good job. He did get two penalties that we have got to clean up, but one was just kind of a face mask that hurt us and one was the so-called holding call on a fourth and two where they threw the ball into the ground. But you know what, he's done a very good job this year. For us to play at a high level he has to be one of our best players and be out there and I think right now George and him are two guys that are definitely standing out, along with some others that are playing well on that side of the ball.