TRANSCRIPT | WKU coach Jeff Brohm after 14-12 win at Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WDRB) — Western Kentucky football coach Jeff Brohm didn’t get the performance he wanted from his offense, but he was thrilled with a season-opening win on the road against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
Here’s a transcript of Brohm’s postgame news conference. Questions are paraphrased, Brohm’s answers are transcribed:
Brohm’s opening statement: It was a huge win for our program, a huge win for our team. I’m proud of our guys. Our team fought and battled. We talked all year that we needed to try to find a way to win the second half; we were a bad second half team [last season]. We were in perfect position to try and do it tonight, being down at half time and not really doing much on offense. So for our guys to fight, especially in that way, was big for us. Anytime you can beat an SEC team on their home turf it’s huge and helps elevate Western Kentucky University. But I’m proud of our defense, and our defensive staff. I gave the game ball to coach (Nick) Holt’s staff and all the defensive players. They had to listen to how they didn’t play well last year, and they fought, battled and worked hard. They studied, and I could see them getting better in practice every day. And I think for us to be a great football team, we’re going to have to be great at offense, defense and of course special teams. The defense covered for us today on offense and I couldn’t be happier for a team victory like that.”
Q: How do you assess the offense?
BROHM: Well, we didn’t play well. We had some drops early on and had a little trick play that probably could have gone for a touchdown had we caught it. I think we lost some confidence and mojo. I knew they were going to be pretty good on defense, very similar to Illinois where they would have some big guys and physical up front, and take away our quick little throws; which they did. We tried to go fast. I think we just lost a little mojo. I think in the second half we hit a big play and had a good long drive to get a lead. So we did get better in the second half, but it definitely wasn’t up to par.
Q: What about Brandon (Doughty’s) play and how he responded after all those drops?
BROHM: What we’ve talked about all year long is that, I don’t care what the score is, to be a great quarterback you have to keep doing what you do and you can’t keep letting the score force you to do things that aren’t your game, force you to throw up the field when it’s not open and turn the ball over. And he (Doughty) didn’t turn the ball over and that gave us a chance to win. And there were a few times I thought he passed up a few throws, especially on a roll out in the final two minutes of the first half. But we got refocused and played hard, and he was efficient. Like we said early in the year, there’s going to be games that he isn’t going to put up the stats, but if he’s efficient and takes care of the ball then that’s what great quarterbacks do, they find a way to win. I think his performance was very good, especially in the second half.
Q: How happy were you to see how the defense defended at the goal line, with two interceptions and the big stop at the end?
BROHM: That’s what helped us win the game. If we don’t stop them there, it’s a different ball game. To not only stop them and tackle before they go in, but force them to throw the ball and then make interceptions. We knew that if we could stop the run, and force them to pass we’d be in better situations. But definitely when you make stops down there, that was huge and for sure helped us win the game.”
Q: Down 3-0, what was your message at halftime?
BROHM: Well actually, it was exactly what we’ve talked about all season long and the summer, how we were a bad second half team and how we were in the situation to prove we could be a second half team. We lost a ton of big leads last year in the second half, this time we were down at half, playing very bad on offense, in an away game against an SEC team, we’ve got to find a way to win and prove that we’re a second half team. So I think we did that. I think the second half was much better overall, even though it wasn’t great. But these are the types of things when you play great teams that you’ve got to find a way to win in different ways, and I’m proud of the team to win in this fashion.
Q: Did you expect the game to be so low scoring?
BROHM: I never expect a game to be low scoring. I want to score points and our offense does. But I knew against an SEC defense, and coach Mason does a great job, offensively they weren’t up to par last year, I knew it was going to be tough for us. I anticipated it being like Illinois, where they took away the things that they took away today. Now, I would like to have played better. I think in the second half to rally, it was good to see.
Q: What about Tyler Higbee’s game, four catches for 104 yards.
BROHM: Tyler Higbee is an outstanding tight end. He had a track record of being injured a little bit but worked hard in the offseason to get healthy. He’s a big target. He’s athletic. He can catch. To take that pass over the middle and run it (65 yards) all the way down to the three or four, it was a key play for us. Then we’ve got a little trick play where we roll right and throw back across the grain (to set up another touchdown). He had some big catches over the middle. I thought he did a great job.
Q: Three straight games decided on the two-point conversion?
BROHM: That’s Hilltopper football, right there. I’m going to be honest with you. I think with our schedule this year, we may have every game like that. I think we’re not that much better than other teams and they’re not that much better than us. So it’s whoever is going to play the best and prepare the best and fight and find a way to win, and we did in this game. I would anticipate the next one to be just like it, where we have to find a way to win.
Q: That’s got to get a little old though, right?
BROHM: Well it gets old for me, but I think fans like to watch it. The games are exciting and entertaining. This wasn’t as high-scoring but we made some good defensive plays. On defense it’s a great win. On offense it’s a good, ugly win. But it’s a win, and that’s a testament to our team and shows the maturity that they had and the hard work they’ve put in.
Q: What did you think about all the red in the stands?
BROHM: You know, I came out and I was impressed. I thought we had a great turnout, and early on. Bowling Green is a hidden gem. Western Kentucky is a great university. We have great people, great fans, they want to see us continue to build the program and that’s what we want to continue to do. I think our players are hungry, and that’s what I want. They have a chip on their shoulder. They’re out to prove to people that we can play against good teams and we can raise our level of play. I tell them all year it’s a one-game season. We found a way to win this game, now we move on to the next one. Win, lose or draw, we just move on to the next one. I think that helped us last year when we got off to a 3-5 start, we had that work ethic and they understood, it’s a one-game season. All we can do is try to get better every week. Obviously, we have a lot of things to get better on for this upcoming week, we have an opponent (Louisiana Tech) who kicked our tail last year, so we’re going to have to get a lot better. But it was great to see the defense step up. It helps us become a better football team.
Q: Is Joe Brown glad he changed positions now?
BROHM: Joe’s a great athlete, a great player. He wanted the ball in his hands the first year. And we had Leon Allen and D’Andre Ferby, you saw him tonight, and Ace Wells is injured. But Joe had an outstanding camp (on defense) and made plays all over in the nickel position and corner position. He’s a competitor, he understands football, he plays hard, he’s smart. So he’s a huge addition to the defense. So are some other players, but he’s special.
Q: How good was it to see Tim Gorski out?
BROHM: Well that’s about as impressive as it gets, for Tim Gorski. Initially when he blew his Achilles, he was expected to be out until probably the second-to-last game of the year. We even talked about shutting him down, you know, because he wasn’t going to be able to get back. But he spent endless hours in the training room, and we were encouraged. But we didn’t anticipate him being able to come back this fast. For him to step back on the field Game 1, which, I’m not sure of the exact date, but it’s around six months for an Achilles injury, which normally takes 9 to 12, that’s impressive. My hat’s off to him, our training staff, they did a great job and I’m proud of the toughness he showed, because he had to get in there and block.
Q: You mentioned the dropped passes early. What was the reason for that?
BROHM: I don’t know. I think we had a little nerves early on. They had decent coverage and we had to put the ball down low a few times. They weren’t perfect throws, but they were good throws, they were catchable balls. We had a little trick play that we felt sure was going to go for a touchdown. We had it called for the first play of the game but we started on the one-yard line and couldn’t use it then. Then we throw it and I think he looked up before he caught it. We just kind of lost some confidence and our mojo at that position. But credit to their defense, and we found a way to eventually make some plays. I like the fight they showed, but it wasn’t a great performance by our offense.
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