KYLE FLOOD: Good morning. Finally into a regular week with our football schedule with classes beginning tomorrow. We had our first Sunday night practice, and the players are off today, and we'll get right at it with Howard on tomorrow. It'll be a good challenge for our football team. They're coming off a great win with a freshman quarterback, No. 12, coming in the game late, going 10 of 11, leading a drive down the field to win the game at RFK Stadium, so I'm sure they're a very excited program, and we're certainly excited to open up our season at High Point Solutions Stadium this weekend and get an opportunity to play a game in front of our home fans, the only home game we have this September, as the schedule worked out.
With that, I will open it up for questions.
Q. Can you just break down what you see from Howard, offense, defense?
KYLE FLOOD: Sure. I think Coach Harrell has a background of playing in the NFL, he played in the World League. They do a lot of things on offense. They're very multiple on offense. They do some pro-style sets, personnel, run game, and then they also have a spread element to their offense, as well, where they'll put three wide receivers in the game. And one of their wide receivers is a little bit of a hybrid type of guy; he's off the ball, he's on the ball. So they challenge you in a number of ways. They're going to make you defend a lot of different schemes.
On defense, they're like a 4-2-5 configuration on defense, and without getting too specific, they want to pressure you. They want to bring pressure. They want to attack you on defense.
Q. Do you think the fact that this is your first home game, the team's first home game, too, will offset any temptation too look ahead to South Florida since that's the league opener?
KYLE FLOOD: I hope the excitement will be in our home stadium for sure. I think when you look around the country, it's not hard to find motivation for every football game when you see what happened out in Western PA with Pitt and Youngstown State, what happened a couple years ago with Michigan and App State, and certainly whathappened in our past. We have games like that in our history. It was a little prior to when I got here, but they're there and they're on the record.
I think every week when you show up at the stadium there's going to be an opposing group of 18 to 22 year olds that are coached well, that have trained hard and that are competitive, and you have to be ready to play every week regardless of your opponent.
Q. There still is a natural temptation among 18 to 22 year olds, though. Is that one of the biggest things you're fighting this week?
KYLE FLOOD: I don't think we're fighting that. I think we have a mature team. I think when you have an immature football team, you might be fighting that. I think we've got a mature football team that understands we've got an opportunity this week to go from 1 and 0 to 2 and 0 and to keep all of our goals for this season alive by doing it. I think that'll be motivation enough.
Q. What did Saturday's game show you about your team that you may not have been able to see say in practice?
KYLE FLOOD: You know, what you get to see in the game that you haven't seen in practice are the players who hadn't played in games yet. We had some young guys who played for the first time, Leonte Carroo, Kyle Federico and Darius Hamilton. We have some guys a year older who hadn't played in games yet, Quentin Gause, Anthony DiPaula, Tyler Kroft, and they got an opportunity to show us that the stage wouldn't be too big for them, and I think every one of them really did a nice job.
Kyle missed his first kick, but then he came back and made his next one and he made all the PATs, and really I think grew in confidence as the game went on. It didn't surprise me because he's been that way since he's been here in January. He's got a great demeanor about him, and I think he'll only get better as we go forward.
Q. From an injury standpoint, are Paul and Marvin going to be getting back to work tomorrow?
KYLE FLOOD: We X-rayed Marvin and his X-rays were negative, so we feel good about that. Right now he's still got a boot on, so I don't know if he's going to be practicing with us tomorrow, but we're optimistic.
Paul is going to be an interesting case. He's got an ankle issue right now that he's dealing with, and when I saw him this morning down in the weight room he was walking around in sneakers without a limp, so he looks great. Does that mean he can run and play football, we'll find that out tomorrow. He'll have another day to get ready for that and we'll have him out there to see what he can do and hopefully progress him as the week goes. But I felt really good about what he looked hike just walking around the building this morning.
Q. Talk about this being almost a normal week. How quickly does it dissolve into abnormal since you turn around quickly on Sunday?
KYLE FLOOD: No doubt, and right now our focus is on Howard, but we are conscious of the big picture, and we know we do have a quick turnaround, and we're going to play that game at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon and we're going to turn around and we'll be practicing on Sunday. We're going to set those schedules up today because we do have the short week on the back end afterwards.
Q. Could you talk about the kick-out block by Civil on that run by Jamison, the touchdown?
KYLE FLOOD: Yeah, it was a power play, down blocks and double teams on the front side. Andre was the puller. Really you have the fullback on the puller on that side to hopefully separate the defense. As you've heard me say, all runs that work separate the defense somehow, some way, and that one did. It was a great job by Andre because as he turned the corner there were two defenders, and any time you turn the corner and there's two defenders, you always want to kick out the inside defender because that ultimately will block both guys, and he did that.
I think as he gains more experience I think he could be a little more explosive on that block, but he did a great job of running his feet through the contact and finished the block in really good position.
Q. Is it difficult to assess the pass rush of the front four because so many three-step drops and quick drops and quick slants?
KYLE FLOOD: There's no doubt, and I think we get a lot ofthat here at Rutgers. People who have watched our film on defense know we're going to come after you, and certainly sacks, quarterback knock-downs, whatever they are, we've accumulated quite a few over the years. And I think when we play people I think there's a natural tendency for those teams to put a game plan together that gets the ball out fast. They're trying to avoid those situations.
I think our front four did a nice job in that first game, but I don't think there were a lot of opportunities, which is what you're alluding to.
Q. You mentioned yesterday about talking to Rob about the 3rd down conversions. What kinds of things did you talk about without giving too much away?
KYLE FLOOD: Sure. I think there's some little things, some technique things we could be a little bit better at, and I think some of them were just a function of it'shard to prepare when you don't know exactly what you're going to see, and Isaid that all last week, there were going to be some unique challenges about that game and the game planning, and they have a really fine coaching staffdown there at Tulane, and they did a good job with it.
Q. Your all-around performance on special teams, Doerner's punting, Deering, the blocked extra point, DiPaula kicking, is that kind of what youwant to see week in and week out is that all-around effort?
KYLE FLOOD: We absolutely feel that special teams is going to help us win the game each week, and certainly you pointed to all the plays. There's a number of them in the game. I could also point to two tackles by TJ Johnson on kickoff coverage that are big plays in the game, probably 25- to 35-, 40-yard field position swings if he doesn't make those tackles. We want to win games on special teams here. I think our players buy into that, and I think there's a lot of examples in that first game we can build on.
Q. Considering Civil's play you mentioned earlier and all the other holes created for the running game and also not allowing a sack to a team that outsacked its opponents, how do you feel about your offensive line in game 1?
KYLE FLOOD: I think it's a good start. I think it's a good start. I want to see the body of work. I try to not make too many decisions based on one game or one series. I think they have a performance that they can build on as a unit, and I think that's a positive.
Q. Any guys you're looking to get in against Howard, especially maybe some younger guys to take a look at, you want to possibly red shirt this year?
KYLE FLOOD: You know, we have in our minds and in our staff room the list of guys that we feel, okay, we feel like these guys -- all things go the way we want them to, we'll red shirt this year because you can never predict injuries and things like that it's hard to say publicly, nor do we want to do that.
In terms of playing them this week, our focus is on playing well from the first play. I'm not looking past any of that. I don't look beyond that in any way, shape or form. If the opportunity presents itself in the game, we'll deal with it at that point. I want to say it was last year we played a game against an FCS opponent and it was 6-0 at halftime. Again, you need to approach these games to win the game first. If you look beyond that, you're putting yourself in a very dangerous situation.
Q. What's your take on playing FCS opponents? Do you like it?
KYLE FLOOD: I do. I think it's good for football. I think they've made the rule such that you can play one a year and it countstoward your Bowl eligibility, so there's no negative to your football team to doing it. Generally it gives you a seventh home game. It didn't for us this year, which I think is a positive for your fan base, you get one more Saturday experience for the fan base in your area, and I think it gives the FCS opponent a great opportunity to showcase their program.
Q. You've talked about not wanting to make too many judgments after just one game on anything. In the past few years there's been some tinkering in the offensive line trying to straighten things out. How important is it for you to keep a group together as much to get some continuity there?
KYLE FLOOD: I think it's critical. I don't say that as any absolute, and I don't say that to tell you it couldn't work another way. But it's just been my experience over 19 years that the better offensive lines I've coached, seen, been a part of, have all had continuity to a certain degree, and it doesn't have to be five, butthere's got to be a certain degree of continuity week in, week out. There is a chemistry that builds with those guys as they gain experience playing next to each other.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Betim Bujari a little bit?
KYLE FLOOD: I think Betim went out there and had a solid first game. It was good to get him out there. Again, we had played him a lot in practice at center, but until you go out there and do it in a game, it's still practice. I thought he handled himself very well.
Q. Savon had a little bit of a fumbling issue last year. He dropped one here, Harrison recovered. Is that something you're concerned about or will talk to him about?
KYLE FLOOD: We're always concerned about ball security, absolutely. It's not really something that we talk to him about, we just try to reinforce the coaching points of securing the ball every play, and it was great to see him on the very next play have a positive play. So it certainly wasn't something that was on his mind, and I thought overall Savon did a good job in the game. Unfortunately for him he had two runs that got called back for penalties that weren't even at thepoint of attack. He probably lost somewhere between 15 and 20 yards on his stats unfortunately for him, or itlooks on paper like he had an even better day, but we were pleased with hisperformance overall.
But ball security is always, always at a premium, and as we tell the players, the ball is the program. You can't score without it.
Q. You've obviously been on the sidelines for a while. Was there any different feel being the head coach as opposed to being an assistant?
KYLE FLOOD: Yeah, no doubt, I got to talk to the officials. We were never allowed to talk to the officials as assistants here. That was different. And certainly not going back to the bench is different. You go from one phase to another; you go from offense to special teams to defense to special teams, back to offense. So the flow of the game, the experience I have on the sideline with the flow of the game is a little bit different.
Q. What's the difference between Antwan Lowery this year and last year?
KYLE FLOOD: I think another year of building his reactions as an offensive lineman. Offensive line is a stimulus reaction position. You could make a case they all are in football, but there's so little time for recovery because the people you'reinteracting with on the other team are so close to you. I think it's just another year of experience playing the position, and I think Antwan has done a good job. He's probably in the best shape he's been in since he's been here, as well, and that certainly does not hurt.
Q. When you went back again and looked at Gary, anything change in your assessment?
KYLE FLOOD: Really, no. I was pleased with the way Gary managed the game. I think we all -- myself, the coaches and Gary alike would like to have that one throw back on 4th down, but as Isaid in training camp, he will learn from that experience. I have no doubt about that. And he'll be better for it this week. Fortunately for us we're able to learn from that experience and win the game. It's always nicer to teach and correct after a win for sure.