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RUTGERS UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 1, 2012


Kyle Flood


COACH FLOOD:  Great to be back.  Game week, excited to have another home game.  It's good to be back at High Points Solution Stadium for sure.  Sounds like we are going to have a pretty good student turnout, I believe Jason was telling me we have over 8,000 student tickets already out.  I think we had 11,000 at our first home game, so that's exciting to me that this early we have that many out.  The students we really feel make a difference in our atmosphere and certainly excite our team, that's for sure.
We have an excellent opponent coming into town this week in UCONN, a team we have had some really, really close football games with over the years.  Certainly in the seven years I've been here.
When I look at them as a team, I see almost a reflection of what we want to be, they are a football team that plays really good defense.  We want to be a football team that plays really good defense.  Their offense starts with the running game.  We feel like our offense start the with running game and I feel like they are very well coached on special teams.
They do an excellent job on special teams.  I think we are in for another really competitive Big East football game this week, and we are excited to have it at home.

Q.  Did you have a sense yesterday how much the bye week helped?
COACH FLOOD:  I think we ran around pretty good.  I think we looked fast.  I was excited about it.  I think what I saw was when I expected; that the intensity level started to rise again.
You know, it's never the same in a week where you don't practice.  You could try and make it the same, but it's not.  Now we are back into game week and I think the urgency of the game week resurfaced last night.

Q.  How is the team's health as you head into this week?
COACH FLOOD:  I think we are about as healthy as anybody this time of year.  We have some players that we have lost, guys like Michael Burton, a guy like Al Page; we have got some other guys that are on the verge of coming back.  We are hoping to have them back.  A guy like Marvin Booker is kind of on the edge right now; we are not sure either way.  Savon Huggins looked a little better last night.  He'll hit for the first time on Tuesday.  That will be a big day for him.  Those things are exciting to me but I think everybody in the country at this point in time is probably dealing with the same things we are.

Q.  You have Taj over Andre Civil, is that just the way it played out this week?
COACH FLOOD:  That's just a typo.  Andre will start the game.  Taj will play in the game.  They will both play a significant amount in the game.  I really feel like they have both earned the right to do that.  I'm pleased with their progress.

Q.  You said they liketo run the ball.  What's been the key to your rushing defense; I guess you're No.1 in the countryagainst the run.
COACH FLOOD:  I think it starts with the players.  You know, we are fortunate to have established players on defense.
I think we have done a good job of being disruptive up front, and when our second level players have had opportunities to make tackles, they have Taj a good job tackling.  Guys like Khaseem, Jamil Merrell, Steve Beauharnais.  They do an excellent job.
And for us to play good defense, our secondary has to be involved.  I think anybody who plays good defense, your secondary has to be involved much with a lot of teams that's your safeties, but with us, it's our safeties and our corner.  There is no cover corners at Rutgers.  You have to be able to play in the pass game and you have to be able to play in the run game.

Q.  Memories of last year's game; do you want your players thinking about that?
COACH FLOOD:¬† Not really.¬† Again, in college football from year‑to‑year, it's different.¬† The players are different.¬† And in our case, even the coaches are different.
I think what motivates our team is the opportunity to be 1‑0 this week.¬† If you string together enough of those 1‑0s, you have got an opportunity to play for a championship.¬†¬† So every week in the Big East Conference, because we don't have a conference Championship Game, every week is a Big East Championship Game.
So for us to continue moving towards our goal, our motivation is simple:¬† We want to be 1‑0 this week.

Q.  Are you expecting Michael Larrow to play, and how has looked over the last week?
COACH FLOOD:  I think Michael is coming along.  I think guys like Michael Larrow and Kenny Kirksey, who is coming back from a foot injury, they are going to have a role.  How much of a role this week, I'm not sure.  It will be the first week back for both of them but I do think as the year plays out, you'll see both of them play.

Q.  It looked like Whitmer is coming on here after a slow start; is that what you see on the film?
COACH FLOOD:  I think I see a lot of what I see in my own quarterback.  I think I see a guy who is getting a little bit more comfortable with their system every week.
To go from I believe it was Illinois to junior college and then to UCONN, that's three systems in three years.  There's not easy for anybody.
So I think what we are seeing now is a real fine quarterback who is getting comfortable with the system he's playing in.

Q.  How is Lorenzo Waters looked the past week during bye week practices and all?
COACH FLOOD:  Lorenzo is a good player.  I think last week, hopefully, every position on our team, not just Lorenzo but hopefully every position on our team got a little bit better at one skill.
Lorenzo is a guy who between Lorenzo, Wayne Warren, Duron Harmon, we have three safeties we feel at any time we can play and play winning football for us and I think they will progress as we go.

Q.  Could you talk about UCONN's linebackers?  It looks like that's the key to their defense.
COACH FLOOD:  They are very disruptive players.  Coach Brown is their defensive coordinator and I've coached against him many times:  From when he was at UMASS and I was at Hofstra to when he was at Northeastern and I was at Delaware; when he was at Maryland and I was at Rutgers and now he's at UCONN, and I'm at Rutgers still.
We have seen a lot of each other over the years, and any place he's ever coached, they have been very aggressive on defense.  Even though they are not particularly the same as us in scheme, I believe their philosophy is the same.  They are very aggressive.  They attack and they want to create TFLs.
And when you look at their linebacker position, No. 33, four sacks, ten TFLs on the year so far.  No. 3, three and a half sacks, six TFL's on the season so far.
Those linebackers are getting opportunities to make plays in the backfield and they are doing it.

Q.¬† How important is a guy like Khaseem leadership‑wise on this team?
COACH FLOOD:  I think Khaseem is critical, but I don't think it's just one person.  We are very fortunate on defense.
We have the leadership, people in leadership positions at every level of the defense, and I think that's why we have been able to play at a high level.  And I think that's why we have been able to avoid what people call the letdown so to speak.
I think our defensive players have very high standards and expectations for themselves and for the people around them.  I think there's a lot of peer accountability on our defense.  Whether up front it's Scott Vallone, Ka Lial Glaud, Marvin Booker, three seniors on our defense who play a lot of football, on the second level with Steve and with Khaseem.
And on the third level with guys like Duron Harmon, Brandon Jones, Logan Ryan, Wayne Warren, people who have played a lot of football, Marcus Cooper, over the years.
So I think that we are in a unique position this year because that defense has tomorrow players who have been battle‑tested and have had success.¬† There's a lot of peer accountability, which is always a good thing when you have a football team.

Q.  Are those the guys that keep this team from realizing it has not accomplished anything yet, as good as the start is?
COACH FLOOD:  I think it's them and I think we have guys on offense that are doing the same thing.  Guys like Brandon Coleman, a guy like Gary Nova who is growing into his leadership role.
And a guy like R.J. Dill, who has played a lot of football, but hasn't been here.  He's played a lot of football and he's been around good teams and he's been around some teams maybe that were not as good.
But I think he brings a level of maturity to the offense that grows more and more each year.  It wasn't as established a defense as it was in the beginning, but I can see it growing as we go through the season.

Q.  UCONN leads the Big East in sacks; is this a big test for your offensive line?
COACH FLOOD:  There's no doubt and I look no further than Trevardo Williams, the defensive end.  He is the single most productive pass rusher in our conference.  He's the guy that if you allow him to, he can ruin the game.  You have to account for him on every play.

Q.  Through the years, this defense has thrived on your defense on turnovers and generating them.  Are you satisfied to this point on what they have Taj?  In terms of creating turnovers?
COACH FLOOD:  I guess I'm satisfied to this point what they have Taj, but I think every game is unique.  And if opportunities present themselves this Saturday, I hope that we are able to capitalize on them.
I think that when you look at the different things that ultimately win and lose football games, turnovers is always‑‑ if it's not at the top of the list, it's always very close to the top of the list, things like drive start, chunk plays, big plays, giving up and achieved on offense.¬† Those are statistics that you look at them at the end of the game and you can pretty much tell who won without even looking at the score.

Q.  You said you don't actively use last year as a motivational tool, but is it a situation where you simply don't bring it up and don't discuss it because you think it's negative thoughts, or is it something you don't want them thinking about?  Is it something you specifically say, put it out of your brain or you just not even worry about it?
COACH FLOOD:  I don't bring it up and I don't talk about it because it has no bearing on this game.  Since that game we had a Bowl season and a Bowl game, a winter work out, a spring practice, a summer training camp and four football games, one Big East football game.  There's different players on both sides of the field this year than there were last year so, to me, that game last year has no bearing on this game this year.
If you need any more motivation than playing a Big East championship football game, then you should not be playing at this level of college football.¬† I don't think that will be the case with our team.¬† I think we are very motivated to try and win a Big East Championship Game and the only way we can do that this week is to try to be 1‑0.

Q.  What have you seen from Kyle Federico from the Arkansas game?  I know you said maybe there's some mechanics stuff to work on.
COACH FLOOD:  Just work on getting a little bit more in rhythm.  He looked a little bit out of rhythm and we did something with him last night where we made him go out there, end of game situation, clock winding down to, see if we could put him in a pressure situation, and see if could not just go out there and kick a field goal and he did a nice job.
The improvements you see in practice, you hope to see them in games.  When they show up in games, you can't always predict that, but I have a lot of faith in Kyle.

Q.¬† Seems like every week you have a different receiver stepping up in the passing game, everybody's catching‑‑ last week Mark Harrison had his biggest game of the year.¬† How important to the offense and what you're able to do on offense is it to get all these receivers involved?
COACH FLOOD:  I think every week is unique.  We don't go into the week trying to put the focus on one receiver in particular.
The defense has their coverage structure and within every coverage structure, there should be say solution for the and if the quarterback is disciplined enough to go through his progression, the ball should go to the correct receiver.
And last week, or the last game, I should say, that manifested itself in I think eight different people catching footballs, which is a testament to the receivers doing a good job being in the right place and a testament to the quarterback being patient enough to go through his progression and find the right player.

Q.¬† Has Bergen shown you more that the fullback than you expected in that you might be able to play him more there, and not have a trickle‑down effect with moving Paul around?
COACH FLOOD:  Well, we played Paul at the fullback spot prior to this ever happening, so it's not a new position for Paul.  Sam has Taj a nice job with the role that we've given him right now.  And where that goes from here, he'll have to earn more and more each week, just like any player who is kind of moving up in the depth chart.

Q.  After Gary's performance against Arkansas, are you going to reign him back in this week and make sure he manages the game and isn't too trigger happy?
COACH FLOOD:  I think Gary did manage the game against Arkansas.  I think what you saw was what we asked him to do.  And what we are hoping to see this week with Gary is for him to do the same thing.  Whether that means we throw the ball as much as we did against Arkansas or we run the ball more, that, we'll see, in time.
But I don't think what you saw against Arkansas was Gary trying to make plays.  I think what you saw was him running the offense that we gave him to run and that's how it ended up showing up in the statistics.  I'm excited with his progress, I think he's Taj a nice job every week of running the game plan that we've given him and I don't think this week will be any different.

Q.  Jumping off of that point, given the success he did have, I know you were saying he managed the game, do you think you might try to stretch the field a little bit more vertically, specifically on the playaction, given that he showed he was more of a precise passer?
COACH FLOOD:  I don't think what you saw last week, I think what you're describing is him not having success for three weeks and then having success last week.  That's not the way we feel as coaches.  We feel like every week, he ran the game plan the way we wanted him to run the game plan.
Did he have a throw or two that he would like to have back?  Every quarterback every week has a throw or two they would probably like to have back.  That's just the nature of competitive college football.
Playaction will always be a part of our game plan.  In every game plan, there are going to be a certain number of plays that are always designed to stretch the defense vertically.  That won't be anything unique that we do this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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