COACH FLOOD: How we doing, guys? Just before we start, as a football program, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Devon Walker and the Tulane football team as they go through what they're going through. Certainly we'll be more than willing to help in any way we can. And it’d probably be remiss if I didn't do the same to the families of all the 9/11 responders on the eve of 9/11. I certainly have policemen, firemen in New York in my family. And I know in New York and New Jersey, there's a lot of people whose lives were touched that day. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as well.
It's good to be coming off another win against a good football team. It's a short week. It's a little different doing this type of press conference after already having two practices to get ready for Thursday night. That's kind of where we are. We moved on quickly from the Howard game.
With that, I'll open it up for some questions.
Q. Has it been a common theme defensively the way Rutgers has kind of contained B.J. Daniels?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's a great challenge every year. He's one of the more dynamic offensive players in our league. We've certainly had some good defenses here in the past. I think what you see this year from B.J. is a an even better version of what he already was, which is a guy that played at a high level. It will be a great challenge for us.
Every week, obviously, we have a game plan for the offensive plays, the system that we're going to see. But I think you have to be ready to play good, sound defense every play because he's got the ability to expose you on defense every time he has that ball in his hands.
Q. Anything new that you can give on injury updates, how people did in practice today?
COACH FLOOD: The best way to say it is I'm optimistic about Betim (Bujari). I felt good about what he did today. I'm pessimistic about Andre (Civil). I'm not feeling great about that right now. I think Savon (Huggins) is 50/50 at this point.
Q. There were a couple missed connections on Nova to Coleman. Do you have any concerns about Coleman and the deep passing game in general?
COACH FLOOD: No, not really. Not really. I think the further down the field you throw the ball, your completion percentage generally goes down. If you throw the ball over 20 to 25 yards, if you can complete more than half of them, you're probably doing pretty well. We were fortunate to complete a couple touchdowns to Brandon. I don't remember exactly what the distances were.
I really feel as he progresses through his career, he's still at the beginning stages of his career. He's only going to get better at running those deeper routes. We're only going to get better at throwing it to him. We certainly need to give him significant opportunities every game because he's certainly somebody that can affect the game in a big way.
Q. Did you reach out to Greg at all after he won his debut yesterday? Did you hear from him when you won yours?
COACH FLOOD: I got a great text message from him. We spoke prior to our first game. I got a great text message after the game. I reciprocated and sent him one after I heard they closed it out yesterday.
We have not talked. I am sure they have moved on. They have another big game coming up for them, as do we. Hopefully maybe pregame I'll get a chance to say hello to him.
Q. Are you going to watch this Sunday's coming game?
COACH FLOOD: It would be hard. It would be hard for us to get to that one in season. We generally don't see very much NFL football until our season is over.
Q. You've done this before, but it's hard to say overall what you learned from Greg. What do you think people didn't know about the transition he might make into theNFL?
COACH FLOOD: I didn't get a chance to watch the game. I heard a little bit about who the game went. I think they blocked a punt, played a really good rushing defense. I certainly found over the seven years I worked with him, if you can play good defense, it always starts with stopping the run, you can make big plays on special teams, you're always going to have opportunities to win.
Those have been things that helped us win. Running the football on offense. I think they did a good job of it yesterday down there. It's certainly something we have as one of our goals every week. We think it is important.
There's a certain recipe for success, I guess the Rutgers way of doing things. Generally starts with running the ball on offense, stopping the run on defense, making plays on special teams to ultimately help you win the football game.
Q. You mentioned blocking punts. You blocked another one. You lead the nation. What reasons or what can you tell us about the remarkable consistency you have with blocked kicks?
COACH FLOOD: I think the fact we're going to come after them is not a secret. I think people turn on our film, they see that. We're open about it. We're aggressive. We're a block team, we're not a return team. We're going to try to block it every game.
It's something we spend a lot of time on. Generally if you spend a lot of time on it, you have good people coaching it like we do here with Coach Rossi, Coach Smith, you hope to get good results. We've been fortunate to get good results. The players have done a great job embracing the coaching they've been given and then going out and executing it on gameday.
Q. From an injury standpoint, what is the latest with Marcus Thompson? His backups, the other guys at that position, what do you feel about them going into USF?
COACH FLOOD: Marcus was out there running around a littlebit today. That was encouraging. I put him in the optimistic category of how I feel about him for this Thursday night.
They want to be out there now. This game, Thursday night football in college, is kind of the equivalent of Monday Night Football in the NFL. Everybody is watching. Your peers as players are watching, coaches are watching. There's no doubt there's a little different kind of buzz.
Add on top of that it's the first Big East football game we get to play this year. It's on the road against a really quality opponent, one of the better football teams in our league, one of the best play-makers in our league as their quarterback, certainly one of the difference makers in our league on defense with their starting nose guard. They have some dynamic football players on their football team. It's a challenge for us.
Because of that, the guys on our team, they want to be out there. You see guys doing everything they possibly can do to possibly be healthy come Thursday night.
I was encouraged by it. But as I've said before, I don't worry in any way, shape or form about injuries other than setting up the depth. Because injuries happen to every team around the country. When they happen, the next person has to be ready to step up. When that person steps on the field, they're now the starter and our expectations and standards don't decrease at any point.
Q. You seem to see more early September conference games. You don't play again in the conference until October 6th. What do you feel about playing a conference game so early in the season?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's probably been affected by TV. TV wants the conference games. There's maybe a little bit more juice to them in terms of what people want to see on television.
I don't worry so much about the schedule. I really don't. When it lines up, at whatever point in the season it comes up, we've had as much time as they've had to prepare. We're coming off a home game, going to a road game. They're coming off a road game, going to a home game. You figure it all equals out.
The only thing I would ever be concerned about, I wouldn't want to have the disadvantage of having to play the week before if our opponent didn't have to play the week before. I think that happened one time since I've been here. I know the conference is doing a good job of trying to make sure that doesn't happen.
Q. What do they do defensively that can create problems?
COACH FLOOD: The first thing they do is they put really good defensive linemen on the field. Maybe this is my background as an offensive line coach, but I know when you play against teams that have high quality defensive linemen, you better be ready to go.
They certainly had their fair share over the years. I think this group, when you look at them, No. 46, phenomenal football player. He plays on the inside. He's their nose guard. 6'2", over 300 pounds, very active, very quick feet.
No. 97, a very dynamic pass-rusher, long, runs really well.
Then guys like 92 and 99 have played a lot of football for them, now have stepped into starting roles, have kept alive the tradition of having really good defensive linemen on their team.
And then at the linebacker position DeDe Lattimore, Sam Barrington, these guys have played a lot of football over the years. I've said this before. To have to go against a defense where everybody on their starting lineup is a junior or a senior is a unique thing. It presents a tremendous challenge for us offensively.
Q. Have you gotten to the bottom of the missed two PATs last week?
COACH FLOOD: One of them was a snap issue where we couldn't quite get it down. The other one was just a miss. I'm not concerned about it. I think Kyle has shown me that he can keep every kick to a one-kick-at-a-time mentality. Every kick is an independent event. Don't let what happened in the past affect what's coming up next. He'll be fine going forward.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Darius. What allowed him to be ready to play as a true freshman? What could still be out there for him?
COACH FLOOD: I really believe he's at the beginning stages of what his growth potential will be. He's 245, 250 pounds. I think ultimately he'll be a 270, 280 defensive lineman later in his career.
What he's been able to do is play with really good leverage. He's playing against 22-year-old men and he's 18 years old right now. He's not as strong as he's going to be. He's not as big as he's going to be. What he does, he plays with really good technique and good pad level. He's able to counteract that. He's been a productive player for us so far.
Q. Given his bloodlines, does that surprise you at all?
COACH FLOOD: It does not surprise me. I try not to put too many expectations on the freshmen. He was somebody early on, we thought he would be able to play for us.
Q. What are your overall thoughts on Myles Jackson up to this point?
COACH FLOOD: I think Myles has done a nice job stepping in in his role. With Marvin Booker being out right now, he's in that reserve role behind Ka'Lial Glaud. He's taken advantage of the snaps he's been given. As he gets more experience on the field, his upside will be very good.
Q. You've had a week to kind of match Sheldon Royster since he joined the program. What are your thoughts on him?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's too early to say. Our eyes are on the players that are getting ready to play in the games. We're working Sheldon into our routines and our ways of practicing. He's done a good job of trying to assimilate into our team.
We're not examining him per se right now. We have games to get ready for. Maybe on the bye week we'll get a little bit better look at him.
Q. How much more is there in the running game, you almost doubled last year's output, how much more room is there for growth?
COACH FLOOD: I think this week is going to tell us a lot. I really believe that. I think this is the most challenging of the three weeks so far. This defense is a proven commodity. I think this defense is much better than even their numbers would say they are.
I think this will be a tremendous challenge for our offensive unit, all 11 guys, to continue some of the success we've had running the football.
I think after this game I'll be able to answer that question a little bit better.
Q. How big do you view games like this in recruiting since you're still active in Florida?
COACH FLOOD: Anytime you're on national TV, it's certainly an opportunity to show everybody what your program is about. Certainly being on the road, it's a little bit different experience when you're at home because you don't get the game day atmosphere to show your recruits. But you certainly get to show them what your program is, what it's about.
I would hope that any recruit that would be watching Thursday night would not make a decision on a school based on a single night's event. You would hope it would be more about the people and the relationships and ultimately whatthat university, that diploma from that university, can do for you going forward.
But I do think because it's on national TV, there's certainly going to be a lot of eyes on it and it's going to be valuable.