Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Time For Players To Step Up, Value Of Bowl Games Kelly Compliments Purdue

A little over 24 hours before their matchup, Purdue interim head coach Brian Brohm and LSU head coach Brian Kelly met with the media for the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl press conference.

Here’s what each head coach had to say:

Summarizing The Season:

Brian Brohm began the press conference by talking about how Purdue’s season has gone as a whole.

“It was a very good year for us here at Purdue. Our team is resilient, we had some ebb and flow to the season.”

“Our team did a good job of digging down deep and finding ways to win.”

“There were a lot of games this year that could have went either way. A lot of them, pretty much all of them”

It was certainly an up and down season in West Lafayette, but the Boilermakers bounced back from adversity to have a successful year. Purdue started 1-2 with losses to Penn State and Syracuse in the waining moments of each game.

Those two losses were the first of seven one possession games for the Boilermakers in which they held a record of 5-2 this season.

“There were a lot of games this year that could have went either way. A lot of them, pretty much all of them” Brohm said.

After the shaky start, Purdue got back on track and won four straight games including a victory over then No. 21 ranked Minnesota, at Maryland and against Nebraska. The team struggled on the heels of that winning streak, dropping back-to-back games in embarrassing fashion against Wisconsin and Iowa.

With their Big Ten West title hopes on the line, Purdue responded once again by winning their last three games to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game with Michigan.

It was the first time Purdue had appeared in the Big Ten Championship Game since it was established in 2011. Making it to the game is something Brohm said is special.

“It was a big moment in the program to get to the Big Ten Championship Game.” Brohm said.

Prior to the Citrus Bowl, Purdue has won 8 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Joe Tiller and the Boilermakers accomplished the feat in 2006 and 2007. Purdue will look to cap off a special season in West Lafayette with a win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl tomorrow afternoon.

Brian Kelly had a similar outlook to Brohm regarding his first season in Baton Rouge. The SEC West division champions had a few hiccups, but used a mid-season surge to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

“We had a team that was resilient. We lost our opener in a very difficult fashion, but came back and played really good football for most of the season.” Kelly said.

That surge included back-to-back wins over then top 10 teams in Ole Miss, followed by Alabama to cement themselves as one of the best teams in the SEC once again. This season came on the heels of finishing last place in the SEC West during 2021 with an overall record of 6-7 and a 3-5 mark in conference play.

Kelly was proud of the way his team fought through tough times during the season to end up having a successful year.

The LSU head coach said, “The team itself found ways to win and fought for four quarters and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Similar to Purdue, Kelly and the Tigers will look to end the year on a high note to give the program momentum heading into next season.

Bowl Games Don’t Matter? Brohm and Kelly Disagree:

In this age of college football, there has been a growing narrative in recent years that non-College Football Playoff or New Year’s Six bowl games don’t have much meaning. Brian Brohm and Brian Kelly don’t subscribe to that notion.

“The bowl experience I think is very big for the development of your program.” Brian Brohm said.

Following the Big Ten Championship Game, Purdue has had around a dozen extra practices that they would not have had otherwise. That time allows for younger players to get more reps in practice and potentially play depending on the roster situation for a given team.

Brohm said, “You get those extra practices, you get them in that big time atmosphere and they [players] get a reward kind of at the end of the year.”

The atmosphere of these games has shown to be electric this bowl season. It gives players the opportunity to have some fun after the grind of a college football season.

Brian Kelly agreed with Brohm’s sentiments. He also brought up something that many people forget about bowl games.

“That doesn’t even take into consideration how these incredible these bowls are put together. A fun week of activities for these guys as well.”

Both Purdue and LSU have had activities set up by the Citrus Bowl throughout their stay in Orlando. A few of which have been going to Top Golf, Universal Studios, spending time with kids in the community at Fun Spot America and more.

As far as what this opportunity means to LSU’s program, Kelly said it is invaluable.

“When people look at it from 5,000 feet they go whoa, what are these bowl games about? It’s your program.” Kelly said, “Developing the players within your program. It’s building morale, it’s building camaraderie. It’s relationships with coaches and players. All those things matter.”

LSU is no stranger to bowl games, as they have missed out on postseason play just once since 2000. During that time, the Tigers have a record of 14-8 heading into tomorrow’s game.

It’s Time To Step Up:

For Purdue, the Citrus Bowl is an opportunity for players to step up and make an impact. The Boilermakers are without six starters, five of which opted-out after declaring for the NFL Draft and the other being transfer Spencer Holstege.

Now, Brohm is anticipating numerous players filling in to lead Purdue to victory.

“Now you’re going to get to see some guys that were behind, waiting in the wings that are good football players that are ready to play.” Brohm said.

Although their teammates are no longer with the team, players are excited for what their departures mean for them in this game.

“Definitely guys that haven’t had as much action throughout the year and even guys that have elevated roles, you know, Charlie Jones was the number one receiver so that receiver room actually had a little bounce you know, a little jump in their step, a little bounce in their step, like we’re gonna get some more footballs.”

That wide receiver group includes players like TJ Sheffield, Mershawn Rice, Deion Burks and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen among others.

It has not been just the players stepping into new roles however. After Jeff Brohm took a chunk of the coaching staff with him to Louisville, many assistants have been asked to do more for the bowl game.

“I think we’ve done a good job of holding it together, elevating some guys on staff that are going to take some bigger roles. We’re kind of on a skeleton crew.” Brohm said.

Coaches that are overlooked on the Purdue staff have been gaining valuable experience replacing position coaches.

“All the QC’s (quality control) are basically elevated up to full time coaches and but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping that together.”

A couple of names that are on staff and will have a bigger role are former Purdue players, running back DJ Knox and tight end Justin Sinz.

It will truly be a team effort by every member of the program to guide Purdue into the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl tomorrow afternoon.

Kelly Speaks Highly Of Purdue:

LSU coach Brian Kelly is no stranger to playing the Boilermakers. Kelly is 6-0 as a head coach against Purdue during his coaching career, much of which was as Notre Dame’s head coach. Recently, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to a win over Purdue last season during his final year in South Bend.

Kelly had high praise for the Purdue program, “Every time I played him it’s it’s been it’s been a tough game and expect the same again.” Kelly said, “They’re gonna play hard. They’re gonna play physical for four quarters. They’ve always been innovative, creative on offense and a difficult opponent.”

As for tomorrow’s game, Kelly knows he cannot overlook the shorthanded Boilermakers despite the roster changes that have taken place over the last several weeks.

“They’ve got a talented quarterback. Obviously, we’ve got chance to watch a little bit of film on him. He’s got talent. He’s got arm talent. He’s he’s got tools around him.” Kelly said of new Purdue quarterback Austin Burton.

Burton is of course taking over for the now NFL bound Aidan O’Connell and provides a different look than the former two year starter. Kelly also gave credit to Purdue running back Devin Mockobee as a player LSU will have to focus on.

“We have to be prepared for the run game and pass game. We can’t say well, they’re not going to run the football. The running back [Mockobee] is big and physical.”

LSU does not anticipate Purdue to drastically change their offensive scheme even though Jeff Brohm is no longer with the program.

“I expect a very similar Purdue offense. That’s going to be creative, that’s gonna look to be balanced. Take shots down the field and kind of run their offense the way they’ve been running it.”

The challenge for Brian Brohm will be to throw enough wrinkles in the game plan to catch LSU off guard and take advantage of a different looking Purdue offense in the Citrus Bowl.

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