With Purdue football less than a week away from what we hope will be a glorious return to a full season it’s time for that weekly ritual of #coachspeak! Purdue head man Jeff Brohm took to the microphone Monday to talk about his team, the upcoming game against Oregon State, and a heaping dose of injury news.
A personal note here as the guy on staff who has had to read every one of these press conference transcripts for Brohm I’ve gotta say this is by far one of his most forthcoming press conferences. In years past, the past two especially, Brohm hid nearly all news about everyone’s health and everyone’s status. I’m not sure if this is just a one time thing or if he realized his caginess was useless and just annoyed everyone involved. Regardless, this transcript was a breath of fresh air compared to years past. Without further ado let’s get into it.
On the general feeling of being back with fans and with a full season:
I really feel that myself, our staff right now, our players, you put in all this work all year long, you dedicate a lot of your life to finding ways to improve and get better and win football games. There’s no reason not to go out there and be excited, lay it all on the line, cut it loose each and every week, play free, want to make plays, want to be aggressive, want to go for the win.
I am excited for our players. I think they’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve given us everything they have up until this point, and I know they want to go out on the game field and try to prove that.
The offensive line has been one of the areas I’ve worried about the most this offseason with the raft of injuries and retirements. Can Coach Brohm put my mind at ease?
Well, depth is a little bit of a concern, but every year you’re going to have some form or fashion of that at different positions.
I feel like our line has improved to this point. Not until you get in a real game will you be able to tell 100 percent for sure, but I think they’ve worked hard, they’ve been physical, they understand what we’re trying to do.
Probably six or seven guys is what you’ll see in the rotation right now, unless some injuries happen along the way, and then we’ll continue to try to build that. I do think we have some very young
Cam Craig has come back this week, has been nicked up a little bit, but we’re going to try to get a full week of practice in with him and get him out on the game field.
Brohm noted that the team hasn’t yet chosen captains saying that they will get to that “as we get to the end of the week” and that that’s something they may “change...up” every week. I believe that would be a change for Brohm.
Injury updates for Marvin Grant (Brohm says he’s set to start) and Jamari Brown:
Marvin Grant has been back practicing with us.
Jamari Brown is back practicing, as well. We anticipate him playing. Right now he’s in the mix behind Cory Trice and Dedrick Mackey
What does Marty Biagi expect with this special teams unit and will more starters be out there?
Well, we want to be aggressive to start the season and use who we need to use on special teams, so yes, there are more starters on those units. We want to continue to do that. Sure, you have to have a little bit of a balance of making sure your very best players are healthy throughout the year, but we want to excel on special teams, so we have opened up the full can on that, and anybody that we need to help us do well on special teams, that’s who we’re going to use.
I asked in the weekly Boilermusings column what Purdue’s vaccination percentage was well Brohm provided a rough estimate on that today as well:
You know what, I’m pretty sure we’re probably 95 percent or above. There’s still just a few, but other than that, we’ve got a very, very high percentage of players and staff.
Well, we’re going to prepare to play the game and prepare our guys, but we still wear masks in the building. There’s still certain protocols that we take with our football team. We try not to focus on it. Does it still go on? Yes, but it’s for the benefit and for the good of all. But we’re meeting when we need to meet.
A few things are off limits that we try to do to keep the building safe and clean for all, but I think it’s all beneficial, and our guys handle it great. It doesn’t affect what we have to do and how to go about preparing, and then we get outside on the practice field, we practice like we’ve always practiced.
On the impact of the many transfers:
I hope the impact the transfers have are great. We feel like they’re definitely going to be a good majority of those guys in the mix right off the bat. Even the ones that may not be starting will play and we think can play effectively for us.
So I think of all the transfers we’ve brought in, all of them are going to see action, and all of them I think can help us.
I think that we’ve been fortunate to address some needs, and I think what we’ve done in bringing those guys in have helped our team to this point, and obviously it’s got to carry over to the games.
Will any true freshman play?
I wouldn’t anticipate many true freshmen playing at all.
What does this new focus on being aggressive actually mean?
Well, I hope it makes us look better. That’s the approach we want to take this year. We had a good practice last night under the lights on the game field, trying to simulate some game conditions, getting lined up, people being off the field, communication, making calls.
To this point our defense, other than one scrimmage where we weren’t up to par, has done a really good job, and we’ve guarded things tighter. (Internet interruption) that we could have, does have some depth.
Yes, the secondary is a little thinner, but we’ve got to continue to progress the other ones behind them, but at linebacker and defensive line we will have the ability to rotate a little bit and make sure that we’re keeping guys fresh.
But I anticipate them playing well, and I think they’ve gained some confidence throughout spring and summer and fall camp, and now they’ve got to carry it over to the game, and they’ve got to keep that confidence, no matter if we’re up by 14 or down by 21, and that’s what you’ve just got to make sure of is that our guys understand that every game something new and different is going to happen. You’ve got to be able to handle it and react, but I anticipate our defense playing well.
Of course on offense we always want to be aggressive, but we do want to have some balance, and we do want to be physical in our approach, and we do want to be able to run the ball downhill and hit some play action off of it.
Taking care of the football, being efficient, avoiding negative plays, creating a few big plays throughout the course of getting chunks of positive yardage will be important.
Brohm was asked about Oregon State and after giving the obligatory “they’ve got good players, they play hard, real motivated, etc. etc.” response he talked about what Purdue can expect to see from them and that was much more enlightening though brief:
They want to run the football. They want to control the ball. They want to be physical in their approach. They want to play sound defense. Their defensive coordinator has a Wisconsin background, so they do some things very similar to that, which Wisconsin has always been great on that side of the ball, especially here recently.
Well, like I said, their defense has a little bit of resemblance to Wisconsin and what they do. They’re going to change the front up a little bit here and there, they’re going to slant the line, have some movement. They’re going to try to be aggressive in their approach and stop the run and get after the quarterback.
We’ve seen a lot of video and tape, and now it’s about executing and adjusting along the way if something happens different, and finding ways to make plays and getting positive yards.
Brohm talked often after last season about wanting to be more involved in the defense and really all over the team, what has that looked like?
Well, it’s been fun. I think we’ve got a great group of coaches. I think we’re on the same page. There’s been a ton of communication way back to the postseason, through the spring and summer until now. I think we understand what we want to try to look like.
But yeah, I’m in the film room with them and just pointing out a few things that I see. But the communication has been good. They’re great to work with. I think we’ve got a collaborative approach where everyone understands that we all take responsibility for our actions. We’ve got to put the best plan together for our players to succeed and go out there and compete and have a good chance of that. We’ve got to be able to adjust along the way. We’ve got to have a little bit of creativity when we need to.
But we’ve got to stay together and figure out a way to get it done. Every week will be a new challenge, and we’ve got to be able to hang in there ourselves and make sure that we’re committed to the fight that it’s going to take all year long to play the game and to coach the game of football. But I like our staff, and I like our players, and I like the makeup right now. We’ve just got to, like I said, game day is when you test yourself and you’ve got to come through under pressure, and you’ve got to do it every week.
Finally, it appears as if there is no update on if Sampson James will be available this season but reading between the lines it seems unlikely:
Well, we’re happy to have Sampson James on our team. He’s come in here and he’s worked hard. I think him and Coach Barclay have hit it off, and they understand that we’re going to get him as ready to play as we possibly can. He wants to go out there and prove himself.