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October 13, 2012

Kyle Flood


COACH FLOOD:  Certainly, a really exciting game for us.  We're very pleased to come out on top.  Can't say enough good things about our student section.  I thought they did such a tremendous job.
As you can see, three false starts by the other team, it makes a difference.  It's what hopefully your home‑field advantage should yield for you as you go forward during the season.
I thought a really fine game by the entire team.  Certainly some things we've got to get cleaned up.  We didn't rush the ball the way we'd like to rush the football.  But at the same time, the game changed significantly in the second half when we blocked the field goal for the touchdown and then kicked the field goal.  Now you're up 10 in the second half, and all of a sudden, it's a completely different type of game that you're in at that point.  So the play calling changes.
I thought the staff, as a whole, did a tremendous job of working with each other to understand what kind of game we were in at that point and make sure we limited the amount of possessions the other team had.  Because, ultimately, by the time they got that ball for the last possession, it was hard for them.  They were in kind of their last-three mode as offenses like to call it.
A tremendous individual effort by Khaseem on the day.  14 tackles, three forced fumbles, one and a half sacks.  Just certainly an All‑American Player‑of‑the‑Year type performance, which is what he can do for us and has done in the past.  It's certainly nothing new for him to do that, and I thought Gary did another excellent job of running the game plan.
When you can finish a game and win 4‑0 on turnovers, there are not many of those games you come out on the wrong side of, because you have a good chance to come out on the right side of them.  So with that, any questions?

Q.  Your initial thoughts on being bowl eligible, 6‑0?
COACH FLOOD:  It's exciting to be Bowl eligible again.  I didn't really talk about it with the team.  I'm sure they're aware of it.  But, as I've said before, our goals are bigger than that, but it is something that we work very hard for.  As you go through a season, there certainly are milestones or levels of success that you're able to achieve.  That is certainly the minimal standard, so to speak, of what you're trying to achieve, which would be to be Bowl eligible.
I guess you could say to have a winning season, and conference championships, BCS bowls, that type of thing as you go up the ladder, so to speak.

Q.  On the field goal clock, was that something that you scouted then?  Did you see a weakness there or was it just, we're running our field goal block and he made a great play?
COACH FLOOD:  It's our base field goal block.  It was really nothing different than we do.  It was an excellent individual effort by Jamal Merrell to block the kick.

Q.  Do some guys have a knack?  He had two against them last year, an extra point and a field goal.  Is it sometimes just a knack as well as the schemes?
COACH FLOOD:  There is no doubt.  There is definitely a knack to it.  There is a body type to it as well.  Jamal is a long‑armed, long‑body type, it gives you a little extra wing span, and he covers more ground than maybe a shorter guy would.

Q.  I know all teams practice ball security, also taking it away.  Why are you guys having so much success right now then?
COACH FLOOD:  It's really because of the players believing.  The players buy into it because the drills didn't change from last year to this year.  We do ball security drills.  We've done ball security drills in the past.  And like a lot of things, it's not so much that you're teaching it different, though you're always looking to find a better way to teach everything.  It's this particular group of players has really made a conscious effort.  They believe that if we take care of the ball, it affects the outcome of the game, and I think it has as we've gone through the season so far.  So we have tangible evidence to show them that only makes their belief grow stronger.

Q.  How big is Gary protecting that ball and not turning that over?  How big is that in what you guys want to do as a team?
COACH FLOOD:  It's critical.  It's critical.  Again, there are certain statistics that overtime have proven to win football games.  Turnovers is one of them.  If you win the turnover margin, you have a great opportunity to win.  The more you win the turnover margin by, the more your chances of winning go up.  So when you're plus one, certainly better than 50%.  When you're plus two, plus three, plus four, you've significantly raised the bar for yourself.  Rushing yards, rushing attempts, drive starts, all rushing defense.  Those things have proven over time that they win football games.

Q.  In regards to your kicking situation, what made you decide to go with Borgese?
COACH FLOOD:  He had the best week.  Nothing more complicated than that.  We had a little competition.  I didn't feel Kyle was a hundred percent, and could give us what we needed.  I thought Borgese did a good job during the week, and he was the best option for us.  I thought he did a good job.  It was a shame he missed that extra point.  We've got to see what happened on that play.  He was having a great day, and certainly would have made it a three‑score game instead of a two‑score game.  It would have changed what was going on out there, so that was unfortunate.  But I think going forward he'll get better.

Q.  In the first half, the second drive Jamison was having a hard time running.  Opening up Coleman was it in the fact that Dixon could run?  He saw difficulty running?
COACH FLOOD:  I think what you see and what you're describing is how we play offense.  We want to run the football.  We feel if people don't commit enough people to stopping us running the football, we'll be able to effectively run the football.  Syracuse committed a lot of people stopping the run today that creates one‑on‑ones on the outside.  And people like Brandon Coleman, Mark Harrison, Timmy Wright, Quron Pratt, we have to be able to win those one‑on‑ones, and on that drive we won two of them, and that was big, because it won us chunks down the field.

Q.  How would you assess the other aspects of your kicking game today?
COACH FLOOD:  I have to look at it on film.  I don't know if I've got a great grasp of it right now.  I think our kickoff return was okay.  I don't think they hurt us, but I don't think they necessarily gave us any great starting field position.  I thought we did a good job on kickoff coverage.  Though our kickoffs were a little erratic at times, looking at it from that perspective.  That would be a quick analysis, but I think we have to look at it further on tape to see where the issues are.

Q.  With Khaseem, was he even more active than usual today?
COACH FLOOD:  I won't be able to tell you that until I look at it and talk to Coach Smith and Coach Cohen and see.  We all know Khaseem's a tremendous play maker, so it doesn't surprise me when he has a game like this.  Certainly opportunities presented themselves, and he made the plays.  Why that is the case, I don't know if I can give you the details on that, but I'm not surprised by it.

Q.  How many thoughts of trying to go for the score, move down the field at the end of the half in that final drive?
COACH FLOOD:  I didn't think the timing was right.  I just didn't think the timing was right.  We have certain philosophies on the end of half procedure that I don't want to talk about specifically in public.  But that just didn't fit into where we thought the timing was right to do it.

Q.  Can you go back and talk about that block one more time?  That is in the context of the game, they had driven and finally put together a drive towards the end of the first half and score.  Now all of a sudden the game that you seem to be in control of is 7‑7.  Then they take the opening possession in the third quarter, get down there.  So at that moment, how big was that block at that point when they're like going to go up three and maybe get more confidence, now they're down.
COACH FLOOD:  I think it's a tremendous momentum swing in the game where they have a very positive drive coming out to start the second half, and then the coaches did a nice job of what they were doing at halftime.
It goes‑‑ I think what happened on that drive was ultimately they got off schedule because of a false start.  Which, again, that's the benefit of having home games, and those are the things that your student section and crowd can do for you.  But it really goes from being a positive momentum swing in their favor to being a tremendous positive momentum swing in our favor because of the block and then ultimately the scoop and score.  So there is no doubt it's a tremendous momentum swing in the game.

Q.  Obviously you having been here as an assistant contributes to the team's transition to you being the head coach.  But what else has led to it being such a fluid transition, do you think, through the first six games?
COACH FLOOD:  I don't know if I can answer that question.  That's a tough question.  I do know this:  We've got very talented players, and they're really good people and they work really hard.  I think we've got a staff of talented coaches that work very hard.
Now are we unique in that aspect?  I don't think so.  There are other teams around the country that have talented players and good coaches.  But this team maybe because of some of the things that have happened in the past, some of the times where we've been close to what we've wanted and ultimately it's gotten away from us, is maybe just a little more focused than we've been.  That would be the only thing I can attribute it to.
There is no magic wand.  This team works very hard.  The coaches prepare very hard.  They work diligently to learn the game plan.  I couldn't be more excited to see them have the success on the field.  Because I think it only serves to tell them that what they're doing is the right thing to do.

Q.  Did you expect it to be this quick and as good of a start?
COACH FLOOD:  I thought going into the season we had a good football team.

Q.  Can you talk about the goal line stand a little bit?  It looked like they had eight or nine plays down there in the ten‑yard line.
COACH FLOOD:  It serves to the mental toughness of our defense.  They play one play at a time.  Even though the ball may get down there to the three‑yard line, they're not going to concede the touchdown.  The first time Syracuse got down there in the first half, they were able to run it in, and I think our guys didn't want that to happen again.  They kind of bowed their neck and did a nice job.

Q.  What have you seen out of Tyler Kroft that's enabled him to take a bigger role recently on offense?
COACH FLOOD:  He's becoming a better blocker.  For tight ends to have a place on the offense, they have to be contributing blockers or else they just become slow receivers.  That's the reality of that position.
So it's never been a situation where we worry about Tyler catching the ball.  We know he's a talented pass catcher, a talented route runner.  Now he's become an effective blocker.  Once he became an effective blocker, he becomes a weapon for us on offense.

Q.  You mentioned the running game before, was it more what they were doing and the number of guys that committed to it, or was it something missing for you guys?
COACH FLOOD:  They certainly committed numbers to it.  They have good personnel.  They've got good defensive linemen.  They've got a linebacker, No. 11 who is an excellent football player.  They've got good people on defense.  We'll look for the specifics when we watch the film, but I think it's a combination of the two.  They have talented people on defense, and certainly committed numbers.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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