Head Coach Jeff Brohm held his weekly press conference ahead of the big matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers for the Old Oaken Bucket. The Purdue Boilermakers have battled their way to a 7-4 record and are looking for 8 regular-season wins and a shot at the B1G championship game (with a little help from the Nebraska Cornhuskers) on Saturday.
Q Jeff, what are you most proud of this team so far?
Jeff Brohm: “Well, I’m very proud of our team because they work hard and do everything to improve every week and find a way to win. Some weeks we find a way to look really, really good; next week we find a way to just survive.”
“But that’s part of college football. I think they are able to take constructive criticism and find ways to improve and stick together. I think they’re a hungry group, so I’m proud of the effort they’ve given us.”
Analysis: This is something that still needs improvement in order for Purdue to take this next step as a program. Every season under Brohm there seems to be games where they seem completely unprepared and don’t seem to have the focus they need to compete. Whether it’s Eastern Michigan in 2018 or Wisconsin in 2022, the games where Purdue falls completely flat must be eliminated. This is the difference between 8 seasons and 10 seasons.
Q Will we see Gus Hartwig for the rest of the year? If not, who will grab the ball on Saturday?
Jeff Brom: “No, unfortunately Gus has sustained a serious injury. For the next few weeks, wear a cast on his lower limb, have surgery, and stay away for long periods of time.”
“He was a leader on our offensive line, a great snapper, smart, tough and stately recruit who came and wanted to make a difference. Unfortunately, he curled up and injured himself during the game. So we will get him back healthy, but it will take some time.”
“I think Josh will probably get the middle nod. He came in and played. He is our best snapper. He just needs to keep improving and getting better at the position. And then Spencer will support him, and Malachi, a true newcomer who has traveled to all the games with us, will be ready too.”
Analysis: This is unfortunate news for Hartwig. He’s played well this season, but there could be a bright spot in developing the offensive line for next season. Hartwig is a great player, but he could be a better option for Purdue at guard if another capable center can step up. The fact that real freshman center Malachi Preciado is traveling speaks volumes about how good he can get sooner rather than later.
With Jalen, did he play any linebacker for you on Saturday, Jalen Graham?
JEFF BROHM: He plays that for us.
Q Well he moves quite a bit but he seemed to be in a different position…
Jeff Brom: “So Jalen is our hybrid outside linebacker nickel position. So with him we can use him against regular run sets and spread sets and not have to use a bigger body to play linebacker to stop the run.
“Well, having said that, not to give away what we’re doing, but… he’ll move to a spot whether we think it’s a pass or a run. He’s done that a few times; You’re right…because the one he picked up was in the middle. Not to give it away but if we anticipate what we think will be called we will move it slightly to better suit the call.
Analysis: I talk about Jalen Graham’s run against Northwestern and his journey into the Indiana game as a spy against athletic quarterbacks in my Matchups to Watch article later this week. Graham is an integral part of Purdue, being able to defend quarterbacks who can run or play with their feet because he can help with his size in the traditional running game but is also athletic enough to make the pass in space defend. Graham has the potential for a solid NFL career if he can develop as a run stopper.
Q Earlier this year you had problems with running quarterbacks. I think Florida Atlantic comes to mind; Syracuse a bit. Where might your defense have improved in that area as you face a big challenge on Saturday?
Jeff Brom: “I thought we had improved the last two teams on defense without question. We made some adjustments. I think they were all beneficial. For the past week we knew they had a Wildcat package ready and I think apart from the one time they did it with some other staff we had a call ready and we closed it.”
“I think we are better equipped and prepared for this. If you look at Indiana’s last game, they had some runs for their quarterback and some reads in certain sets and it was effective and then it started to get a little stale.
“Then they started spreading the field further and doing it in a different way and doing some other big runs. So you have multiple options for running the quarterback, and when you have that type of athlete in the game and you can complete two passes during the game and you’re beating Michigan State at Michigan State, you’re obviously doing a lot of things right. ”
“We have to have a variety of calls against the different staff sets they have when it’s a narrower box with a lot of blockers and when it’s a wider set with a lot more space because they have the ability to change and it has been effective for them.”
“That’s going to be the challenge for us to make sure we have a good plan for all these different scenarios because I think we’ve made progress in subtle ways as we’ve seen.”
Analysis: Trying to force newly installed Hoosier QB Dexter Williams to make mistakes through pocket pressure and keep him there, or use Graham as a spy in the running game will be key to the Boilers’ success. Having Jalen on the field allows Purdue to switch looks without having to cycle the boys on and off. Williams gives Indiana room for error because he’s able to play with his legs, but having a full game on film will help Purdue create a game plan, Brohm points out, in order to succeed.
Q Sydnor has done some positive things this year. Do you see these guys as a nice building block for future defenses?
Jeff Brom: “I think we’ve made some progress on the defensive line. We have developed depth. have more corpses We recruited more than commits to this position. We are committed to this and we will always try to do so.”
“But we’ve definitely made progress there. A lot of guys have played soccer, so their level of experience has increased. We can change people and Khordae definitely stood out and did a really good job.”
“I feel good as we analyze our squad at the end of the year that this is a position that doesn’t need that much immediate help at all.”
“There are some other positions that we think we probably need to address but the defensive line has developed a good core from quite a few guys. Even though we had injuries, we were able to play quite productively at that point.”
Analysis: In short, give Mark Hagan a raise and another title on top of already being the defensive line coach. During his two stints at West Lafayette, Coach Hagan has proven to be as good a recruiter as any in Purdue history. Elevating him to recruiting director (defensively, at least) would help Purdue a bit more in that department.
It’s also nice to have a position that’s fundamental to a good program (line of defense) and doesn’t have to fill gaps in the offseason. This allows staff to focus on more blending in the portal (defensive back, linebacker, running back, wide receiver, and quarterback).
The youth at this position are really, really good with Caraway and Sydnor at the helm, but guys like Joe Strickland, Cole Brevard, Mo Omonode, JP Deeter and Greg Hudgins make up a young core of players for Purdue fans to look forward to . The Boilermakers need to consistently develop one of these guys into a pass-rushing force to take the next step. I trust Hagan will take one of them there.
Q Among the freshmen this year who haven’t played, do any of these guys stand out in the redshirt years as guys you’re particularly excited about moving forward with long-term?
Jeff Brohm: “Right now I think Joe Strickland has made a lot of progress and will be a good player for us. I got sick with mono which pretty much wiped him out and lost a lot of weight.
“Brady Allen continues to improve as a good young talent. Max Klare at the end has the chance to do a really good job for us. Zion Steptoe has also made progress on the receiver. i try to think And there’s probably more.”
“It is therefore important that we develop them further. Those are probably the most important leaders and there are probably a few others getting better that I left out.”
“I think we have a good crew who just have to work harder for the rest of the season and make sure they’re really using Spring Ball to get better.”
Analysis: Brady Allen’s development as the focus of the 2022 Recruit class was already in sight, but developing young guns on offense will be crucial next season. Steptoe is a playmaker option at receiver, and newcomer Max Klare will be a good tight end at Purdue one day.
There are a number of other newcomers who have performed well this season who are unable to progress to the two depths due to experienced players in front of them. JP Deeter is a young defensive tackle who needs to continue working on the inside, but he brings a lot of athleticism and size to the position. The young defenders aren’t quite ready to help, but they’ll be given every opportunity in the spring to claim starting positions with Bryce Hampton, Jamari Brown, Cory Trice and Reece Taylor all potentially leaving the program (subject to an extra year). some).
INDIANA INJURIES UPDATE:
According to head coach Jeff Brohm, the following updates have been deployed:
RB Devin Mockobee: Concussion Transcript
DT Branson Deen: Probably off
C Gus Hartwig: Out for Season
LB Kieran Douglas: Probably
WR Broc Thomspon: Unknown but unlikely
RB King Doerue: This has always been week-to-week with what Brohm described earlier in the year as “something King always has to deal with.” There is no known injury or issue, but having Doerue available when Mockobee is unable to walk will be of great help.