Purdue's penalties prompt Brohm to adopt new punishments
By MICHAEL MAROT
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has seen enough silly penalties to last him the entire season.
Now, after watching flags cost the Boilermakers potential wins in each of their first two games, he is imposing new punishments.
"There has to be consequences for their actions, and if guys are getting 15-yard penalties they're out of the game," he said Monday. "If we see something close to that that's not a penalty, they're coming out of the game. We have to do it in practice, address it in practice and make sure that they're training themselves every day to understand you can't be silly and do things that cost your team when it has nothing beneficial for anybody."
Some growing pains might have been expected from Purdue's young, rebuilt defense. But it's been painful instead.
In a 31-27 loss to Northwestern, junior defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal drew a personal foul for throwing the Wildcats' running back to the ground on a third-down stop. Instead of Purdue getting the ball back with no timeouts left, Northwestern was able to run out the final 2 minutes, 31 seconds.
A few days later, Brohm explained his team plays to the whistle and he thought Neal was simply attempting to rip the ball out when the Boilermakers needed a turnover.
Then came Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan.
Sophomore linebacker Cornel Jones was called for a personal foul following a sack on third-and-eight when he shoved quarterback Tyler Wiegers. Instead of forcing fourth-and-long in the waning minutes, the Eagles picked up a first down. Eleven plays later, Chad Ryland made a 24-yard field goal as time expired, stunning the Boilermakers with a 20-19 victory.
There's no margin for error with 10 straight Power Five foes on the schedule and Purdue is now 0-2 for the first time since 1996 in what was supposed to be a promising year.
The Boilermakers will now try to avoid going 0-3 for the first time in 32 years on Saturday when they face Missouri (2-0), a team they beat on the road last season.
"These losses are no fun, but that's part of football," Brohm said, acknowledging he also needs to do a better job. "I think it's important that you learn from your mistakes, you go about trying to get better and you work hard to fix them. There are a lot of other opportunities ahead of us this year, and they are going to be challenging opportunities."
While Neal and Jones have endured the brunt of criticism, Brohm is equally upset with other problems.
He noted penalties on the offensive linemen have been equally damaging though they've not been as well-documented publicly.
Some things are getting better.
Brohm thought Elijah Sindelar rebounded well after throwing three interceptions in the first half against Northwestern and was subsequently replaced by David Blough. Both again played last week, and Brohm thought both played better. The problem was Purdue fumbled the ball five times, losing two.
"We took care of the ball. We made better decisions. We ran the offense," he said. "We just had some costly penalties and turnovers and some missed opportunities that hurt us."
If the quarterbacks continue improving and Brohm can get the other pieces cleaned up, maybe the Boilermakers can get their season righted.
And Brohm thinks he has the solution.
"We're going to make sure from here on out everyone is held accountable every step they make, 24 hours a day, on the practice field," he said. "What they may think is something small has been costing us. And really they're silly, silly mistakes that there's no use for them."
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Updated September 10, 2018