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October 4, 2014

Kyle Flood


COACH FLOOD:  I apologize it took us a couple minutes to get everybody back into the locker room, as you would imagine.  I think‑‑ I'm really proud of this football team.  You know, we have‑‑ we finished some games on the road this year, but it's probably been too long since we finished one at home for our home fans and that was really exciting to be able to do that.
I can't thank the student section enough, the band.  I made it over there for the alma mater with a couple of the players but they got caught up in the wash a little bit on the field.  But they do such a great job supporting us.
It really makes a special atmosphere in our stadium and I'm just really excited that these players have got a chance to finish a game like that at home.  You know, we finished one like that out in Seattle and we finished one out like that down in Maryland, but when you finish it at home, it's even more special and I think the fans appreciate it and I certainly appreciate them.
I guess now I'll take questions.

Q.  On Gary, his performance obviously in the game, what about it impressed you and can you appreciate what he's probably feeling, the sense of redemption he's probably feeling right now?
COACH FLOOD:  I'll address the game first.  I thought he played an excellent game tonight.  I thought he made good decisions, he made good throws.  He made some plays under duress that, you know, guys who play at a high level make.  And to win that game, we needed Gary to play well.  It's a tremendous defense.  They weren't No.9 in the country coming into the game on defense by accident.  They are really talented, really well‑coached and they have an excellent scheme.
I don't believe in vindication.  I've talked to the team about that.  You know, after our first loss of the season, I said to them, I said, you know, winning the next week doesn't make up for it.  You have to turn the page.  You have to put your eyes forward.  I think the team in general has done a good job of that.  I think Gary has done an excellent job of that.  I think he's gotten better each week since that performance.
What I do think that speaks to is how mentally tough he is, because there's a lot of positions on a football team, but none of them are like being the starting quarterback, and I think he's handled that position very well.  He's gotten better at it in his career, and I think this year, he's done an excellent job.  And again, coming off a couple weeks ago, what wasn't a great performance, he's put together three in a row where he's gotten better and I'm proud of him for that.

Q.  Can you talk about your emotions when you see the field goalgo up‑‑
COACH FLOOD:  I didn't have a lot of emotions just yet because I knew we still needed a first down.  It didn't surprise me that we blocked it.  It didn't surprise me that they attempted it.  I thought it was the right thing to do for them because it was a strong wind and they have got a kicker who can make that kick.
We were fortunate that the players executed exactly how we wanted them to in terms of timing the jumps.  And then Kemoko and Carlton can both get up there pretty good.  I think somebody told me Kemoko got it, I wasn't sure who got it down on the field.
But I guess to answer your question, after ‑‑ when we got to the point where I knew we could take a knee‑‑ it's a little overwhelming.  I think I would be disingenuous to tell you it's not.  Football games in general are I think very emotional for the coaches; you pour so much into them every week.
But to have one like that at the end of the game and finish the game with the ball, I was just really excited for the players.  There's a lot of players on our team that came to Rutgers to play in games like that and represent our university and our state in games like that.  And I couldn't be more excited for them right now.

Q.  Along those lines, can you put into words, first Big Ten win, the way it happened, a lot of recruits around.
COACH FLOOD:  It certainly creates a little more positive ending for the recruits that come on campus.
I don't know if I can‑‑ I don't know how much I can speak to the other part of it just yet.  I think that will probably come in the off‑season when we think about it a little bit.
But I did tell the team this:  They got a chance tonight to be a part of something that no other football team will ever get a chance to be a part of because this was the first.  And when it happens for the first time, it's special, and I think it's something that the university will remember, the state will remember, but this team got a chance to actually be a part of it and do it.  And it's a great memory that they should take with them the rest of their lives.
For us as a football team, now we have a bye week where we need to get healthier and we need to get better and we need to bunker down academically, because this is probably the toughest stretch that our student athletes have academically was this week and next week, and fortunately next week is a bye, so we can put a little added focus on that.

Q.  Talk about Gary playing so well, the offensive line, what they did to protect him and make him feel comfortable.
COACH FLOOD:  I thought for the most part we protected well.  We got sacked a couple times early in the second half where we had some breakdowns.  But I thought for the most part we did a good job of protecting Gary tonight and giving him the opportunity to be in the pocket.
I thought Gary a couple times escaped from the pocket and made some positive plays running the football.  And then at the end, we found enough runs to finish the game, in a game where it was hard to find runs.  We found just enough at the end of the game, and I'm proud of the linemen for that.
We are going to look at that film and we are going to make corrections and see why we didn't run the ball more effectively.  But I give a lot of credit to that defense.  Again, they were giving up three yards a carry coming into this game, and it's for a reason.  They are good at what they do.

Q.  Can you go through the thinking on the fake punt?
COACH FLOOD:  It's a play we've been practicing for a while.  I watched the replay on the board to see if Michael took the five steps that we asked him to and it looked like he did but then he kind of threw it fading away, so the ball had a little too much air on it.  So when we caught it, Timmy got caught.
It was something we had confidence would work.  We needed to execute it just a little bit better and I think Timmy doesn't get caught.

Q.  After this game's over and you go through the handshakes, what's it like to turn around and see the whole student section running at you and the celebration of the players?
COACH FLOOD:  It's the most satisfying part of my job is watching the players celebrate a victory.  You know, as coaches, you stay in this long enough, you're fortunate to be a part of some special games and to win enough games.  But for these players, they don't get as many opportunities.
So when you have a night like this and you get a chance to watch them celebrate on the field, with their students, their fellow students, I think it's very gratifying for me.  I enjoy that.

Q.  You mentioned guys who came here for nights like this, Andrew Turzilli, a transfer; what's enabled him to be like a big‑play guy for you guys?
COACH FLOOD:  I think Andrew is a talented guy, and I think the reason he's been able to work at Rutgers is because he's an egoless player.  He came here with no agenda other than wanting to be a part of a successful football team and to fit in however he could.
I think he's an excellent example for the younger players in our program in terms of how hard he works and he has added much needed depth to a position we needed to add depth to.  Andrew is talented, but he's a better person than he is a football player.

Q.  What was the difference tonight in being able to manufacture touches for Janarion?
COACH FLOOD:  I think schematically, the game lent itself to some one‑on‑ones, and we felt like if we could get the ball in Janarion's hands, he would be able to make some plays.  A couple of them, he caught clean; a couple of them, he had some other chances; he didn't catch them clean.  But he impacted the game the way we felt he would.
And you know, Janarion is a guy who has got a skill set in terms of speed and change of direction that very few players I think have.  So the more we can find ways to do that, I think the better we'll be on offense.

Q.  How big was the touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter?  You talked about momentum in football games and they had just gained a lead after the fake punt and only two minutes to go and Gary gets you that touchdown.
COACH FLOOD:  I think it's a critical juncture in the game for a couple reasons.  One, we fake the punt, it doesn't work; they score a touchdown, we answered.  But I think the flipside of it also is not only did we answer, but we were getting the ball in the second half.
So then you have a score and then an opportunity to score again, which we didn't capitalize on at that point.  But I do think it was a critical juncture in the game and a very important drive in the game to get points.  Now we were fortunate to get a touchdown.  But I thought just to get points in general was going to be important.

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