Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm met with the media ahead of the Big Ten Championship and discussed the Michigan Wolverines, the challenges presented on both sides of the ball, and also provided an update on quarterback Aidan O’Conell whose brother passed away over the weekend.
In his opening remarks, Brohm discussed the challenge Michigan presents
“Of course, we’ll have our hands full. Michigan has played lights out this week. Very well-coached. Tremendous defense. I think their front four, plus basically their front seven will be the most talented team we’ve played to date. They’re big. They’re stout. They rotate a lot of guys in. Good in the secondary. Just statistically one of the best defenses in the country.
“On offense, the running game, the tight ends, the o-line, really athletic, dynamic quarterback who can make plays outside the pocket, you know, extend plays, throw the football vertically. Right now they’re the complete package, so we just got to get to work and practice well and go out there and cut it loose come game night.”
Brohm spoke about his success (a perfect 3-0) versus top-three ranked teams as head coach of Purdue:
“When you play those types of teams, you have a little luck on your side. You have to play your very best. A lot of things got to go your way. I do think that we will prepare hard. I do think that we will give it our best shot. I do think that as coaches we got to put in a plan that has a couple wrinkles here and there that gives us an edge.
“We’ve got to figure out maybe what has slightly hurt Michigan at times on both sides of the ball and see if we can do something to take advantage of it. Of course, it’s going to come down to being aggressive, making plays, executing, blocking, tackling, and then having the ball bounce our way.
“Of course, on any given Saturday, anything can happen.”
On QB Aidan O’Connell playing last Saturday against Indiana when he found out his brother had died shortly before the start of the game:
“Well, things happened very suddenly, so, yes, there was concern about whether he would be available to play, understandably. So we just wanted to support him as he was going through that, be there for him, answer any questions he had. I think being around his teammates I think did slightly help.
“Then of course he had to manage all the emotions and the things he was going through, which I can’t imagine how hard it would be. Without question I give Aidan a lot of credit. He did what he thought was best. He played his heart out for his teammates and gave us a great effort.
“Of course he’s got things he has to deal with this week as well, but I think we’ll be there to support him, and whenever we can get him back here to get back to work, we look forward to that.”
On Purdue’s last meeting with Michigan in 2017 and how the Boilermakers’ program has grown since then:
“Well, I remember that game very vividly. I think that they were coming in with a stout defense once again. They weren’t as dynamic on offense at the time, so we thought if we could figure out a way to shut them down on offense and create a couple scores we might have a chance.
“For us, we just try to continue to get better. I think as you play in the Big Ten, you have to become a complete team to win. Doesn’t matter what you can do on offense, you have to play good, sound defense. You have to be stout. You’ve got to be able to run the ball at certain times at least, and move the chains that way and get yards that way, due to a lot of things, defensive structure, weather, you name it.
“We’ve tried to gradually help all three segments get better so that we can perform and win football games.”
On the challenge of facing Blake Corum or Donovan Edwards this weekend:
“Well, I think both those running backs are two of the best in the country, and they have proven that week in and week out. They have a great offensive line. They play a bunch of tight ends. They get in running sets. Then you throw in an athletic quarterback, they can pull it at any point and run; now you got to account for him.
“So that creates a lot of problems and it will be very challenging for us. So we have to figure out a way to be physical at the point of attack, put enough guys in the box to be able to stop the run, but yet you can’t abandon covering the pass, because they took advantage of that this past game against Ohio State. Hit a lot of big plays.”
On Purdue’s offensive line potentially having an edge against Michigan’s pass rush:
“Well, when you say edge, I don’t know if that probably is a good word. They’re very, very talented, most talented defense we’ve faced to date, and definitely the most talented front four/front seven.
“We will have our hands full there, so we have to be able to negate that in different ways. That’s having a balance, a mixture of getting it out quick, screen game, moving the pocket, running the ball different ways, finding a way to throw it deep but take long enough.”
On when O’Connell will return to campus and if he will play Saturday:
“Yeah, he’ll play Saturday, I believe. He’ll be back here in the next day or two I believe when he takes care of what he needs to take care of.”