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Let's Play Football in Indianapolis
By Pete DiPrimio
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Forget patience.
Jeff Brohm wants to win now.
Purdue's first-year football coach has a plan. Actually, he has a bunch of them, ranging from short- to long-term, but it all centers on this:
Believe you will win.
Believe you will beat the seemingly unbeatable foe in season-opening Louisville and Lamar Jackson, its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
Believe you will have success against a challenging schedule.
Believe that you will do your job, and that the guy next to you will do his, whether he's a starter or a backup.
And if logic and 9-39 misery over the previous four seasons suggest otherwise, ignore it. Bury it. Focus on a future with limitless possibilities.
"You've got to believe you have a chance," Brohm said during Thursday's media day. "When we take the field, we want to maintain that confidence. That we take the field with a swagger.
"We'll expect to win. We will make sure all of our players believe we can do it."
For Brohm, it's about mindset as much as how much you can lift or how fast you can run.
"There will be challenges, but I know our guys are ready," he said.
Brohm has no etched-in-stone timetable for success. He has seniors such as linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, defensive linemen Gelen Robinson and Antoine Miles, cornerback Da'Wan Hunte and wide receiver Gregory Phillips, who can deliver winning performances.
There's no reason to wait.
"We want to make it happen as quick as we can," Brohm said. "That's what we've built this team on. We have a lot of seniors who are very good players. We need to get them ready to play this year. Get with those guys to help them win."
Brohm won right away at Western Kentucky - 30 wins in three seasons - and not just with offense. Yes, the Hilltoppers could score on anybody (45.5 points last season), but a defense that was No. 2 in the country in rushing defense and that forced 21 turnovers was just as critical.
With co-defensive coordinator Nike Holt as with the offense-savvy Brohm, the approach is as subtle as a punch to the gut:
Oh. One other thing:
"Trust me, in college football, there are a couple superior teams and athletes," Brohm said, "but there's a lot of parity throughout the league. Every team can do the small things and believe in themselves and win close games, which is important. You do that and you never know what can happen."
It starts with August camp. The first practice was Thursday.
"Our guys are ready to get it going," Brohm said. "It's important to have a great camp, work hard, do our part as coaches, the players do their parts to compete hard and finish what they do.
"We want to make sure we get reps for everybody. We need depth at every position. We want the backups ready to do their part. We have to have the ability to win in the fourth quarter. You do that first, you get to that point, and then you find a way to win."
Boiler coaches mix preparing to win now with building for the future. That means young players will have a role, although how big depends on how fast they adjust to the college game.
"We'll develop the young guys," Brohm said, "but it's important to be competitive this year. We want people to say, when they watch us, these guys play hard."
These Boilermakers will get knocked down. In this era of parity, even for powerhouses such as Ohio State and Michigan, undefeated seasons are rare.
It's what happens afterward, Brohm added, that matters most.
"You're going to lose. How you handle the loss dictates what type of season you have.
"If you have the fight and tenacity built and trained in you, you can have success."
Practice Notes: Jeff Brohm announced team captains after practice Thursday. They are junior center Kirk Barron, senior linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, junior quarterback David Blough, senior linebacker Danny Ezechukwu, senior cornerback Da'Wan Hunte and senior wide receiver Gregory Phillips.