COACH KYLE FLOOD: Morning. Excited to announce that Kyle Federico received the Lou Groza weekly award. I'm not sure if it came out today but I received it today. One of three kickers nationally to be honored for their efforts last weekend. That's an exciting award for him to get and I don't think it will be the last one he gets. We are really, really pleased with the way he's come along as a true freshman and to make a 52-yard field goal in his home state, longer field goal than he ever made in high school, that was a great boost to us before half-time.
We are pleased and excited to be 3-0, and certainly have a tremendous challenge ahead of us this week going on the road to play what is a really talented Arkansas football team. And with that, I would open it up for questions.
Q. What do you make of their situation, Tyler Wilson tried to rally the troops, even though he didn't play the game, and they had a bad outing, lost the week before, looks like they are in a little bit of chaos.
COACH KYLE FLOOD: Yeah, I don't know, per se, what the mood is in their locker room. I know it's hard when you lose your starting quarterback, and he is a tremendous, tremendousfootball player, and we are preparing as if he's playing this week. I would imagine that with him on the field, they will be a completely different team. He's one of the elite quarterbacks in the country, a great challenge for our defense to defend him, and the weapons that they have.
But I'm not -- I don't know if I want to -- I don't know what their climate would be like in their locker room. I'm sure their approach would be much like ours, they want to be 1-0 this week.
Q. Can you update your injury situation?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: Andre Civil was out there running around last night, so we feel good about the fact that he'll be available to us.
Savon, not as optimistic at this point. We'll make a final decision a little later in the week but he was not with us in practice yesterday. Came out of the game about as healthy I think as you come out of any game, I don't think there were any additional injuries that will keep anybody out, except for maybe Tartacoff with the hand, just because his role as a holder; if he's not ready to go, we'll keep using Justin, he did a really nice job.
Q. If Savon can't go, can Jawan do 41 carries again?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: Yeah, I think so. I think certainly helps that we played Thursday and then playing Saturday. I think those are unique games. That was more carries I think than any other running back in the history of Rutgers football.
So the odds of it happening again in a consecutive week, I don't know that that will be the case. But do I think he could do it? I absolutely think he could do it and I think certainly playing the ten-day window hopes a little bit.
But somebody I think also that will be available to us this week is P.J. James, he's been out running around with us a little more, and we think he'll have some availability for us on Saturday.
Q. Would you characterize this as a dangerous 1-2 team?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I think they are just a dangerous team in general regardless of what their record is. They are as physically talented a group as any group we'll play all year. You know, their defense plays nine defensive linemen in the game, so they will have big, strong, really good athletes, and they will be fresh, because they will rotate them in through the game.
Q. For those of us that obviously are looking at it from the outside in, can you describe the difference that Wilson is going to make for them if heplays; and if he doesn't, physically how you go about dealing with the team if he's there and if he's not?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: We can only go forward and prepare as if he's going to be there. And I think to do it any other way would be a mistake.
You know, as I said before, he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the country. So you don't get to be an elite quarterback just on physical talent alone. He's obviously a tremendous leader for their program and when he steps on the field, he probably makes everybody else in the huddle more confident just by his presence alone.
And then you add to that his physical abilities to really make every throw on the field and then you look at their wide receivers, they have got a 6-4 kid on one side, No. 17, they have got a 6-6 kid on the other side No., 82; they have got a tight end who is 6-3 who might be the best athlete on their offense. He's a tremendous football player, No. 80, 17 receptions for 226 yards already this year.
So they obviously have their weapons around him, and because he can make every throw, he'll make everybody on that offense better just by his presence alone.
Q. Does it seem like this has been a long month, because this is the third road game so far in four weeks; do you sense any fatigue or anything of that?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I don't sense any fatigue. I think we were well prepared for it with our off-season. And as I said to the team last night, this is the final game of the first third of our season, and it's a unique year, because of the way it sets up.
We have four games and then we have a bye, and then we have four more games and then we have a bye and then we have four more games. So it really is sectioned off in a way I've never had in any other season.
So we are almost treating it like the basketball teams talk about the NCAA Tournament; you have to win your mini-bracket and then you move on to the next mini-bracket, and you don't look it as a six-game tournament, they look at it as three two-game tournaments.
For us this is almost like three four-game seasons and this is the fourth game of the first season.
Q. What would a win over a team from the SEC do for your program?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: It would allow us to be 4-0. And Arkansas is an excellent football team and they have an excellent program, but I would never want anybody to make any complete judgments or decisions based on one game.
I think you have to look at the body of work. And for us that, would allow us to be 4-0, would allow us to continue on a very positive start to our season. But then at that point, we would have to move on. Right now, our focus is on just being 1-0 this week.
Q. What about maybe being on the national map if you win this game?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I don't concern myself with that. If we do well enough during the season, at the end of the year, we'll be ranked, and those ultimately are the ones that you concern yourself with.
At this time people are finding their preseason rankings may not have been as accurate as they thought.
Q. You were able to generate turnovers against South Florida, Arkansas has an issue, two take aways versus nine turnovers; is that something you go into every game thinking you can capitalize, or something in particular this game you think you might be able to take advantage of?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: In every game, we are trying to -- on defense, we are trying to create turnovers. It's one of the statistics, talk about key statistics in a game that ultimately affect winning and turnovers is always one of them.
I think if you look back at South Florida and the penalties certainly frustrate us as a coaching staff and we are working on getting those corrected.
You have to, when you look at any game, look at what are the things that helped you win or lose the game, and for us last week it was helping us win the game. But you also have to be critical of what you did and say, okay, what are the things we did in that game that could have cost us the game.
For us the turnover battle was something we did in that game that allowed us or helped us win that football game, and that's every week a focal point; we were able to make that happenlast week and we'll certainly be trying to make that happen this week.
Q. In Gary Nova's development, what has happened to allow him to get rid of the ball quicker?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I think it's experience in the system and you can only get experience by playing. And the most important experiences you get, even though practice is really important, the most important experiences you're going to get are going to be in the game in the live fire against all your competition.
So hopefully every week Gary will continue to get a little bit better as he gains more experience.
Q. The early game allowed you guys to do a lot of recruiting; how did that go over the weekend?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I think it went well. We'll find out the first Wednesday in February, ultimately, how well it went. It was nice to be out and certainly we were received very well.
Q. How much can this team benefit from a couple extra days of preparation, especially for an SEC team?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I don't know that I would say especially for an SEC team.
I think preparation is an advantage regardless of who your opponent is, and you'd better approach every football game with a very healthy respect for whoever your opponent is. And we certainly have a very healthy respect for Arkansas. But it has nothing do with what conference they play in. They are our opponent this week and we will have a healthy respect for them.
Extra preparation is always a positive. Ultimately, will it turn it into a win for us? We won't find out until next Saturday but did have a practice yesterday which was a little different than what our normal practice would be because we played Thursdaynight.
Q. Khaseem Greene, how important has he been --
COACH KYLE FLOOD: He's been tremendous. He's been every bit the playmaker that we need him to be in our defense. He is a difference-maker for us. He is in a position in our defense where a lot of things get funneled his way and we are relying on that guy to make the play and Khaseem has been able to do that.
Q. Justin Doerner, his inconsistencies, how does he get more consistent, I guess?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I have no doubt in my mind that he will get more consistent, and Justin is going to be as critical of himself as we aregoing to be of him. But I think when you're a specialist, it's a little bit like being a pitcher. Sometimes you just get in a bad groove and you've got to work your way through it. That's what he's doing, and I have no doubt that he'll get better as the season goes on.
Q. Obviously you were out recruiting after the South Florida game. So you have to deal, I'm sure, with other teams using negative recruiting against -- at least based on the league that you're in. If you were to beat Arkansas and you do beat an SEC team, do you think a kind of win like that would have ancillary benefits in terms of national profile and in terms of recruiting?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: What I tell recruits, when I sense thatthere's been negative recruiting against us, is I try to guard them against the value of your product if you're trying to create more value in your product by de valuing somebody else's product.
When we recruit at Rutgers, we recruit for Rutgers. We talk about all of the positives of Rutgers education, all of the positives of the Rutgers football program, what we can do for you as a university and as an athleticdepartment and that's where we end it. That's what we do.
Schools that don't do it that way, I've never spent much time concerning myself with, because it seems to be very easy to combat when you get to the times of the year where you're allowed to sit with people and their parents and guardians in the home.
This game is important because it's the only game we get to play this week. It's not important because the team we are playing is from any particular conference around the country.
If you want to be a program that talks about winning National Championships and winning Big East Championships, very few teams around the country can win National Championships without winning every week. There's a handful of teams that maybe because they have a conference Championship Game, have a little more room for error, but if you want to talk about winning the National Championship, then you have to win your games every week.
So regardless of who our opponent; our goal this week is to be 1-0. It has nothing to do with the conference they play in.
Q. The penalties, how do you scale back on those?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: We just continue to focus on them in practice and make the players aware of it. They are certainly not intentional, but at the same time, and as I said after the game, it is the most glaring part of our program right now where I know we can be a lot better in ten days.
Q. Just to follow up on that, you've talked about there were some penalties you can live with, of the 31 so far, how many would you put in that category? Are there 27 that you want?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I'd have to go back and look. Would I say this, there's too many that I can't live with, that really is the way I would say it. There really is too many. And we did some things offensively with hand placement to make sure we are moving in the right direction and I know we did things defensively with our tackling circuit that we are moving in the right direction.
So we are working on it every day. But I do think the one thing you have to do when you get in a situation like this, is you have to continually make the players aware of it, and we will have, as we have had in the past,officials that practice and we'll be very critical of the players this week in practice to make sure that we get better and we are moving in the right direction on game day, which ultimately is where you're judged.
Q. Considering all of the changes on the defensive line through graduation and injuries, how important has Scott Vallone been this year?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: Scott Vallone is one of the leaders on our defense. And he's one of the players that sets the standard for toughness on our defense.
So in those two ways, he's extremely critical, for our defense and for our team; he is a guy that when you go into the game, you can rely on him to do his job. It's invaluable as a coach.
Q. Do you have any relationship with John L. Smith?
COACH KYLE FLOOD: I don't. And I don't think I've ever met him in passing or anything like that. But I certainly have a lot of respect for what he's been able to do.