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November 17, 2014

Kyle Flood

COACH FLOOD:  Good morning.  Exciting week for us.  Tremendous opportunity to go out to East Lansing and challenge ourselves against one of the better teams in the country, defending Rose Bowl champions.  I got a lot of respect for Mark Dantonio and what he has done through his career and certainly the success they've had at Michigan State.
It's not hard to figure out why they've had the success they've had; No. 1 in the conference in offense, No. 2 in scoring offense, No. 1 in turnover margin, plus 18, and Top 5 in total in rushing defense.
So this is a really good football team we're going out there to play against, and we're going to have to play good football to be 1 and 0.  Questions?

Q.  Kyle, you've obviously had experience with Coach Dantonio from the old Big East days.  What do you remember about playing his Cincinnati teams?
COACH FLOOD:  Yeah, always very physical football games.  You know, they believe in a very similar style of football that we believe in.
There's no doubt that his signature is on that defense, and they play really good football, so if you're going to try to be 1 and 0 against one of his football teams, you really better minimize your own mistakes because they're not going to make a lot of them.

Q.  To follow that up, Dantonio in the Big Ten, Edsall from the old Big East in the Big Ten, and then Doug Marrone is in the NFL.  Obviously very general, but what's made those guys so successful, including yourself, in kind of progressing up the coaching ladder?
COACH FLOOD:¬† I don't know.¬† I think for every one of them it's probably‑‑ it's unique.¬† I think everybody in this profession has got a unique story.¬† And you work hard at the job you have to have success, and then opportunities generally come your way.¬† Questions?

Q.  Kyle, your thoughts on the running back rotation.  Are you more apt to shrink it down to a three or two?
COACH FLOOD:  Right now with Des's situation, we gotta see what his availability will be for the game.  So I think I listed him as questionable.
We'll work all that out during the week.  I think, similar to last week, there's going to be a role for everybody and then we'll go forward from there.  But first priority certainly is going to be to protect the football.

Q.  Kyle, we kind of group them together, Hicks and Martin, freshmen running backs came in.  I think you even said at one point there wasn't a whole lot of separation between them.  Now, are they complimentary runners?  Do they do similar things?  How can you separate them in our minds?
COACH FLOOD:  I think they'll separate themselves with their play, but you know, are they similar runners?  I think they're both physical running backs who showed last week that they have the ability to make you miss.  So now, as their body of work grows, I think their personalities will come out more.

Q.  Do you think it helps to have I guess whatever position group, but two guys come in together, like two freshmen running backs learning the plays at the same time that can rely on each other, similar to like, I guess, Barnwell and Cioffy last year as two corners?  You know what I mean, guys that are going through the process together?
COACH FLOOD:  It helps when you have good people.  When you have good people, they end up building good relationships, and they can be part of each other's support system.  That's for sure.
But they're competitors.  Each one of those guys wants to carry the ball.  So there's a little bit of that, too.  You have two talented guys in the same class that are going to be competing for a long time for carries.

Q.  With Barnwell listed as doubtful, what's the corner position look like going into this week?
COACH FLOOD:  Probably the majority will be played by three guys, Glashen, Cioffy and Dre.  I would think they'll take the majority of it.  Delon can always go back there and play for us.  He's a very smart player, gives us some flexibility, but the majority will be those three guys.

Q.  What are your initial thoughts on the Michigan State defense?  They struggled against Ohio State, but just the reputation of what they are able to do on a weekly basis?
COACH FLOOD:  I'm not concerned necessarily about their reputation.  They have good football players.  You know, they play very sound defense.
You know, they get aligned in the right spots.  They're talented.  They're physical.  They run well.  They create turnovers, and they've got 12 sacks from the defensive end position.  So they do a good job of limiting the run.
They get in good position.  They get in good situations for third down, and then they have some guys that can go get at the quarterback.
So you gotta play efficient football against them, and then you gotta take your shots and you gotta push the football down the field.  They play quarters coverage, which essentially is man coverage on the outside, and you gotta take your shots.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, do you know Narduzzi just from your travels through New Jersey?
COACH FLOOD:  I don't.

Q.¬† With Drew listed as questionable, Andre Patton is a guy who obviously seems like he could step up.¬† Can you just talk about ‑‑ obviously he had a great camp.¬† It was probably a little tough for him, how he's kind of stuck with it in this position right now?
COACH FLOOD:  Yeah, Andre had a really fine football camp for us in the summer and then had the injury towards the end of training camp.  Now with Drew's availability in question, he's gonna have to take a little bit of a bigger role but so does a guy like Carlton Agudosi, guy like John Tsimis, Janarion Grant.  We've got a good pool of receivers there, talented guys who can make plays, and now their load will just increase a little bit.

Q.¬† Kyle, probably similar question, but other side of the ball, guy who had a good camp, Boggs, and you just said he'll probably be part of the three‑man rotation.¬† Where is he at right now?¬† I know he had some injuries and stuff as well.¬† How has he progressed?
COACH FLOOD:  I thought he came through the game good.  I think he's getting better.  Made a good play, pass breakup during the game.  And Dre's a talented guy, so the more he's healthy, the more he's on the field, the better chance he's going to have to get better.

Q.  Kyle, going back to Josh Hicks, how much do you think the lack of film that teams had on him helped him?
COACH FLOOD:  I don't know that.  You'd have to ask some of the other teams who were trying to defend him.

Q.  What's the challenge going forward now, now that there is film on him?  What's the next progression in his play that you'd like to see from him?
COACH FLOOD:¬† When you watch a runner on film, generally after a couple of carries you have an idea of how that guy is going to try to make the big runs.¬† Some guys try to run through you; some guys are make‑you‑miss guys.
One of the things that if they can continue to progress that will make Robert and Josh very valuable is that they showed the ability to do both on Saturday.

Q.  Janarion is another guy who kind of hasn't been able to get going in the return game quite as much this year, but he did on Saturday.  Did anything change there or why do you think that was?
COACH FLOOD:  He had a big effect on the game.  I think that's for sure.  I think we did a better job blocking for him.  There's no doubt that that was part of it.  He had some punts that gave him an opportunity to return them.  You know, sometimes when there's a really good hang time, you don't get as much of an opportunity to return them.  So I thought their punter gave us some opportunities, and he took advantage of them.  And it's something, again, it's one of those things that's very valuable to us because it changes the game, it changes field position.  It changes your drive start.  Some of the little subtle things that help you win football games he does.

Q.  Can you take anything away from playing Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, some of the upper echelon BIG TEN teams when you go out to play another top level team?  Can you take anything away from that?
COACH FLOOD:¬† I think as a program we learned a lot in that three‑game stretch, and now we have an opportunity to apply it, and not all those things we want to talk about publicly.
But every time you play, 1 and 0 or not, you're evaluating what you did, what you did well and trying to do the things you didn't do well better and trying to build on the things that you did.
So I think the experience of those three games there's no doubt will help us going forward into this week.

Q.  Two BIG TEN backs this weekend combined for more than 700 rushing yards and then you have two more that are in the Top 10.  What do you think that's an overall sign of?
COACH FLOOD:  Talented running backs in this conference.  Coaches that are committed to running the football.  Some of the things I talked about before the season.
There's no doubt in this conference there's a commitment to running the football.  There's a commitment to physical football.  And when you do that and you have some talented players, those kind of things can happen.

Q.  Switching it up to receivers, Tony Lippett, what do you see from him on film and how does he compare to some of the other top receivers you guys have faced?
COACH FLOOD:  Yeah, he does an excellent job making plays.  I think he's averaging just under 20 yards a catch or close to 20 yards a catch, and the receiver on the other side as well, No. 25, I believe he's averaging about 20 yards a catch as well.
They've got a good quarterback, talented guy.  They're committed to running the ball.  They run the fall effectively, and [] when you do that, they force the eighth guy in the box and create the one on ones that allow him to go make some big plays, and they do a good job of calling the plays for him to push the ball down the field.

Q.  You mentioned their quarterback.  I don't know how much you've looked at Michigan State before this season in the off season or whatnot, but has he come a long way, because he was kind of considered a game manager on that Rose Bowl team and now obviously he's got pretty good numbers.
COACH FLOOD:  I think some of those things started last year BIG TEN championship game last year.  I don't know if people would refer to him like that in the Big Ten Championship game last year, he had a pretty good game.
But no, I think he's certainly progressed.  He had the experience going through last year, and not just the knowledge of the offense, but the confidence you gain with success has carried over to this year.

Q.  I think maybe over the summer you said Iowa was a program you might look at as something of a model.  Does Michigan State kind of fit into that mold a little bit, too, some things that they've been able to do?  []
COACH FLOOD:  I admire Coach Dantonio and what he's done and how he's taken that program to the next level.  I think those are probably two good examples of programs that have found a way to get the right people into their program.
They have ‑‑ philosophically they know whothey want to be, and they're consistent with it.¬† And over time it has succeeded for them.

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