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October 27, 2014

Kyle Flood

KYLE FLOOD:  Great to be back in Piscataway for a home game this week.  I know it's going to be a great crowd on hand.  I think we're closing in on another sellout, which is great.  Coming from a place that has over 300 straight sellouts, it's a great tradition to be at the beginning stages of, and the atmosphere at home is an energizing force, and no doubt an advantage for us come game day and something I think that can be disruptive to our opponents.
We have a great opponent, an excellent opponent coming in to play this week.  They are the No.1 defense in our conference, in total defense and scoring defense.  They're the No.1 rushing attack in our conference, and I believe the No.4 scoring attack in our conference.  They've done an excellent job this year.  They've got very good players, well coached, and a tremendous challenge for us.

Q.  Abdullah and Melvin Gordon, are they equal challenges to defend?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† In terms of the challenge, the level of the challenge, I think they are.¬† I think they're different backs.¬† Melvin is a bigger guy, you know, a 214‑ or 217‑pound back, a little bit more of a slasher.¬† Abdullah is a little bit more of a quick‑change‑of‑direction guy.¬† But certainly equal challenges when you talk about trying to limit them in the run game.

Q.¬† I know Sunday practices are a little bit different, but how did Chris do with the first‑team offense?
KYLE FLOOD:  I thought Chris did a good job.  Chris came out, I thought he was sharp.  We spent part of the evening doing corrections, and then the other part of the evening trying to get a little bit of a preview of what we're going to see coming up this week.  I thought he looked good last night.

Q.  What do you look to see from him going forward this week obviously with Gary up in the air?
KYLE FLOOD:  Yeah, I think the important thing for the quarterback when he's in the game, I think what we saw last week was that Chris will be prepared.  I don't have any doubt in my mind that he'll be prepared to play if called upon.  And then when you go out there, you've got to protect the football.  That's the first thing you have to do.  You've got to manage the offense, and then you've got to be a great decision maker.  I thought he had a good start and some valuable experience last week doing that.

Q.¬† Listing Robert Martin as a co‑starter now, what did you see from him when you went back and looked at the film, and what did you see from him yesterday?
KYLE FLOOD:  I'll repeat what I said after the game.  I like the way he's running, I like the way he's protecting the football when he's running, and I think that's becoming instinct for him.  That's important for a young running back to do that.  We need to be more productive in the running game, and the back that we think will give us the best opportunity to do that will be the back that will get more carries this week coming up.  You look at that game and the amount of carries we had, and none of our running backs had a run more than eight yards.  We need to be more productive than that if we're going to be as effective in the run game as we want to be.

Q.  When do you have to make a decision with game planning and everything and reps with Gary?
KYLE FLOOD:  The reps will take care of itself.  He'll get whatever reps he can handle as we go through the week.  The game plan won't change.  Gary and Chris have a similar skill set, so that part of it for us is not like Wisconsin where they do some different things with Tanner than they do with the starter.
But the decision itself, that decision could come at any point during the week.  I'll meet with the medical people later this afternoon and we'll get some idea of where we think Gary is for tomorrow and then some kind of projection as the week goes on.

Q.  You mentioned Wisconsin's two quarterbacks.  Obviously they're different players, but can you describe their differences and what it's like to prepare for that?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† Sure.¬† Joel is more conventional, more of your pro‑style quarterback.¬† They're the No.1 rushing attack in our conference.¬† They want to run the football, and because of that, you see a lot of their passes come off of play action, so their 1st and 2nd down passing game for the most part is play action passing, and then you get to 3rd down you get to more of the drop‑back stuff when needed.¬† Tanner is a little bit more of a hybrid quarterback, throws the ball very well, but he's somebody that you see as a runner thatthey ‑‑ you'll see some plays with Tanner that you won't see with Joel.

Q.  You mentioned their offensive line real quick and you mentioned how they want to run the ball.  Are they bigger than some of the offensive lines you've seen?  I know they have a right tackle who's like 330 pounds and one of the best linemen in the conference.
KYLE FLOOD:¬† Yeah, both of their tackles were honorable mention all‑conference last year.¬† They're a big, physical offensive line.¬† That is what you're going to see in the Big Ten.¬† It's something that they recruit to.¬† It's not something that's going to be unusual to us, and now for the third week in a row, we're seeing that again.
But I think that is what we're going to see in this conference more often than not.

Q.¬† Your thoughts on facing Tanner McAvoy just with what his brother meant for this program a couple years ago as a walk‑on?
KYLE FLOOD:  Yeah, Colin did a great job for us, was an important part of a lot of wins here at Rutgers, but in terms of that effect on facing a quarterback from Wisconsin, really to me, that doesn't have any effect on it.  A lot of players in this conference we've gone through the recruiting process with on one level or another, and I'm sure the same could be said for the other teams with players on our team.
Tanner is a good football player.  We're going to prepare for him the way we prepare for everybody.

Q.  Obviously Melvin Gordon is one of the top backs, but they also have Corey Clement who has pretty good stats, too.  How often do they rotate those guys?  Are they similar runners, and what challenges that presents for your defense?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† It's about 65‑35 I think in terms of carries.¬† They both get a significant amount of carries.¬† It's not just a one‑man snow, and Corey is very talented.¬† Very similar body types, very similar running styles, so I don't think they lose anything when Corey comes in the game.¬† I think Corey is very talented.

Q.  As a former line coach, how hard is it to find players of that size, and is it easier to find them or develop them?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† I think you can find them, but you've got to‑‑ you can find the players that size, but you've got to find the players that size that have the athletic ability to do what you want, and that's where it becomes unique because when you recruit in high school you'll see quite a few guys that have great size, but they won't necessarily move as well as you need them to.
The developing part is crucial.¬† There's no doubt about it.¬† You look at the guys that play for them on the offensive line, four of their players are red‑shirt juniors, seniors, or red‑shirt seniors.¬† They've come through their program and have developed to the point that they're at now.
I think the recruiting is the first part, the developing is the second part.  Rob Smith when I first got the head job here, we sat down and we were just talking broad philosophy, and I said, talk to me about Kirk Ferentz.  Talk to me about how they do it at Iowa, because he had worked at Iowa.  And that was exactly their slogan.  It was recruit and develop, recruit and develop.
And that's what you have to do; you have to recruit the body types you're looking for and then you have to have a system in place that you can develop them through.

Q.  Do you admire a program like that that's able to sustain that this is their identity, this is what they want, these big bodies and this style of play?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† I do.¬† I like people who know who they are.¬† They're not‑‑ this is not a group that is going to change a lot from week to week.¬† They know exactly what they want to be.¬† They know exactly what their formula for success is, and when they execute it, they've been very successful.

Q.  Another general question:  What are the strengths of the defense to be ranked No.1 in the conference?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† Here's what I think the strength of their defense is:¬† They play tremendous 11‑man defense.¬† If you look at them statistically, first of all, they're a 3‑4 base, they play some multiple fronts, so they have some four‑down fronts in their system.¬† Their leading tacklers are in the middle with their two middle linebackers and their safety, but the leading TFL guys on their defense are on the outside, so they're getting production in a lot of different areas, and I think that speaks to me that they play team defense.¬† They play 11‑man defense, and that's why they've been as successful as they have been statistically.

Q.  I know the fronts are different, but the fact that they play like a multiple style, and they're not the biggest guys in the world, in what ways do they remind you of your own defense?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† Well, you say that, but they've got a 290‑pound nose guard, a 270‑pound defensive end, a220, 30 ‑‑ three out of their four linebackers are 230 pounds, so I'm not sure that that description is completely accurate.
But here's where there are some similarities:  They're going to give you some different looks.  They're going to move, and they're going to run to the ball very well, and I think those are things that we do on defense, as well.

Q.  Illinois is the latest Big Ten team to put a spotter up in the press box to look for injuries.  Have you done any of those measures?
KYLE FLOOD:  We have.  We have somebody up there.

Q.  What are you looking for when you do that?
KYLE FLOOD:  Well, that's probably a better question for the medical staff, what exactly are they looking for.  But that person has a direct line to our trainer on the sideline, so if at any point there's an issue, we know about it immediately and we can address it.

Q.¬† You talked about the size of Wisconsin's D‑line, and there's always so much made about how you guys always go smaller, quicker.¬† Does anything that happened the last two games or just going into the Big Ten make you think, okay, we need to get a little bigger there?
KYLE FLOOD:  I feel like we have gotten bigger over the last couple years.  If you look at the size of our players now compared to some of those defenses from 2005, 2006 and 2007, I feel like we've gotten bigger.  You're always trying to recruit the biggest athlete that can do what you want him to do within your system.  I think that's where the secret lies, and for us as we go forward, if we can recruit a bigger player who can do what we want him to do, we certainly would welcome that.

Q.  Will Josh Hicks go back to safety this week?
KYLE FLOOD:  Josh Hicks will stay at safety this week, correct.

Q.  Just judging by the injury report with Bujari questionable, is Muller taking reps at center again?
KYLE FLOOD:  If Betim is unable to practice, Muller will take reps at center.  If Betim is able to practice tomorrow, then that won't be the case.

Q.¬† Talk about the D‑line; what do you guys have to do better up front do you feel like?
KYLE FLOOD:¬† I don't think it's the D‑line.¬† I think as a defense‑‑ they're a great example.¬† They're playing great 11‑man defense, and I think what we need to do is we've got to be a little bit more disruptive.¬† We've got to get some of these plays disrupted before they get started.¬† I think as we do that, we'll play better defense as a unit.

Q.  Anthony Cioffi had his first career interception the other day and obviously Boggs didn't play and is questionable again.  Can you talk about Cioffi, I guess, kind of getting back into the mix a little bit?
KYLE FLOOD:  I was excited, yeah.  I thought Anthony had a productive game and some things that he can do better, but he had a great tackle as a flier on punt, did some nice things on special teams, had the interception.  He's somebody who's played a significant amount of football for us for a guy who's only really a true sophomore right now.
As he continues to get better, it'll be very valuable to us on defense, and he'll play more for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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