Head Coach Jeff Brohm Opening Statement
“We’re excited to get back to our home field for game one at home. I know our players are excited to get back on the field as well and show some improvement, and go out there and try to execute as well as we can. It’s a short week, but our guys had a good day practice yesterday, we have another good one today. I think for us, we just need to improve, improve in a lot of areas. Become more consistent, execute better, and figure out a way to play solid football for four quarters.”
(After you go back and watch the film, were there any things that were better than you thought on film, and were there things that were more concerning?)
I think that we didn’t execute extremely well on offense. Missed some opportunities that we had that could have got us points early and set the tone better, and that definitely hurt us. So we weren’t near as sharp, especially in the passing game. I thought our runners ran hard for the most part the entire game. I thought our offensive line played hard the entire game, that was really good to see. We just need to be more consistent. The second half we were. We were a little bit sharper, and we were able to move the ball and get points, and we have to be sharp. I mean, that’s the football game, you got to be sharp. So you don’t get to make a lot of mistakes, and to misfire, and to do things are going to cost you. I think defensively, we started off well in the first quarter. Second quarter, we had a few backups in certain spots, miscommunication on a few calls, not get lined up. We gave too many throws behind the line of scrimmage for big yards which can’t happen. You know we’ve got to tackle the football, rally to it, and we got to play up closer. We gave up too many easy plays in the second quarter. And you know, we were probably in man coverage a little bit too much, and had guys spinning and not lined up correctly with some motions, and we got some calls in late as well. So it was a combination of a lot of things. Second half, we did some different things actually, that we luckily worked on throughout spring, summer, and fall. We changed some things up. We got more sound in what we were doing. We got our calls in faster, we got lined up, and really we played really good football until the very last basically drive of the game where we were probably in prevent too much and gave up a couple easy completions. But that was improvement, so I just think that there’s a lot of things to work on. The thing that did stand out: I thought special teams wise, we gained an edge. Brock (Travelstead) was outstanding kicking the ball, we needed every last kick he made. But we gained an edge in special teams. Now we had two costly penalties that set us back that were just silly to start a drive and it hurt us, so we have to get that fixed. But just a lot of different things to work on, and you use that this week to concentrate specifically on those things and try to clean that up.
(Josh (Heird) has said he’s expected the largest crowd at this stadium post-COVID. Your thoughts on coaching your first game in this stadium, what do you think the atmosphere is going to be like, and how many members of the Brohm family and friends are going to be in the stands?)
We’re expecting a good crowd. It’s the first home game, and we’re excited to get in our home stadium. I can’t predict how many, but I know if you play a good brand of football, and your team shows fight and grit and toughness, and you find ways to improve each and every week and compete at the highest level you can, people are going to come watch. So that’s what we’ve got to provide. Hopefully it equals a lot of wins, but at the same time, we have to play good, solid, tough football, entertaining football, that people want to watch. I think if you do that, our fans will be there in full force, and we look forward to playing in front of them.
(How do you attack the third down problem you had the other night, and what’s a reasonable percentage (of successful third downs) in your mind?)
We were very inept on third down, that was disappointing. We have to get into manageable third and shorts. We had a couple of penalties that hurt us as well. You got to make sure you execute that. We were not sharp. I mean, the first half, we were not sharp. In the second half, we moved the ball better, luckily on first and second down, so that was good, and we created a few big plays. But yes, over 40% is what we’re striving for on third down and we have a long way to go to get there.
(You talked a lot about the running game going into it. What the offensive line did the other night in that first game, how do you build on it and obviously not giving up tackle for losses, that’s a pretty good start?)
The offensive line played hard, and we definitely got better, throughout the summer and the offseason. We did just play five, we want to try to play a few more than that, and I think we have the capability to do that and keep guys fresh and make sure we’re getting others ready. So you’ll see that some as we go forward, but at the same time we want to play with our best guys as much as we can. Our running backs ran hard, and we came out in the second half and really, we tried to establish the running game and build off that and mix it in the pass, and I thought that helped us. Right now, Jawhar (Jordan), Maurice (Turner), and Isaac (Guerendo), they did a good job. They ran hard. They took care of the football, they made plays for us, and we’ve got to continue to improve the passing game and make sure that when we have to pass, we can execute and make plays and move the football. Creating big plays, being sound in the running game, good in play action. Like you said, not having negative plays was huge and I think that was a credit to those guys. Jack (Plummer) made a couple of decent scrambles as well and got us out of a couple jams, and you need all that. So I think minimizing the turnovers and the negative plays is a huge plus.
(Going back to the film review aspect, when you dive deep into that and have some more conversations with Jack (Plummer), why do you think it was that he struggled so much in the first half of that game, and what was it that caused him to turn it around after halftime?)
Honestly, I’ve coached Jack for a long time, and he cares a great deal. He works really hard, he wants to do well. If you come out in practice, he does a great job. I think sometimes he gets in the game, and you know he’s pressing so hard and wanting to do well so much that he’s just a little jittery. I just think he was jittery, may have caused him to misfire on a couple easy throws that really could have helped us. He understands that, and that’s part of being a quarterback. You’ve got to be able to relax and go out there and play. We talk about it and we try to do it, but you’ve got to treat practice like the game, so you can’t be super relaxed in practice and all of the sudden in the game take it a little more seriously. You have to really put pressure on yourself in practice and demand that you perform at a high level, which he has done, but you got to put pressure on yourself to do it and then in the game, just have to relax more and cut it loose. So I just think he’s just got to continue to work on that. You know, a lot of guys, even other than Jack were jittery a little bit in the first half and didn’t play as well as we’d like. But that’s part of playing that position. I just think if he can relax and do what he does every day in practice, and throw with conviction, and stand in there and be tough and realize that he can make those throws. And if not, get out of the pocket and go make a play. So he has the capability just have to relax and go out there and play.
(Kind of bouncing off that, obviously Jack (Plummer) was able to come out and have less of those jitters in the second half. It seemed like (Jamari) Thrash was a big part of that and being able to find him on the ball. How much does it help for a quarterback like Jack to have a receiver like Jamari, and be able to come out there and be able to have a better connection with him and ease him into it?)
With Jamari, normally how you practice is how you’re going to play in the game, and I just think that he’s shown that in practice ever since he’s been here. He works really hard. He hadn’t missed one snap of practice. So he puts in the work, he puts in the time. We had a couple other receivers, Kevin (Coleman) made some good plays, Ahmari (Huggins-Bruce) made some good plays. Even Jimmy (Calloway) and Chris (Bell), you know, had a couple of mistakes here and there, but they’re going to continue to get better. They’ve missed some practice due to some hamstring issues and wrist injuries, issues that they had. So, you know, practice is important. How you practice is normally how you’re going to play. We just got to continue to work through that. But they’re all talented players and they can all make plays for us, and as we proceed forward, they have to all become really good playmakers.
(TJ Quinn is one that you guys talked about quite a bit in the spring and fall, what did you like from him in this first game?)
Well, TJ gives us great effort and he plays hard. I played with his dad here and his dad was the same way, man he could hit. He could run and tackle, he’d do everything you asked, and TJ has done the same thing. I think he’s young, he’ll continue to get better. There were a couple of misalignments here and there that cost us, but when he was in the right spot and knew what to do, he played hard, and he would hit you and he’d strike you. We have to build off that. We have to maybe simplify some things to make sure we’re always in the right position, getting lined up, getting a call correctly, which we talked about before the game, which maybe didn’t happen as much as I would like. So if we can get that fixed and let these guys play fast and hard, I think they’ll do a good job.