COACH FLOOD: Excited to play another Big East game, excited certainly to have it at home. Look forward to another great turnout by our students.
Kyle Federico's situation, I'm not ready to really discuss where he's at. It's going to take me a couple days here to really evaluate whether or not we think he'll be able to go. It's still up in question right now. We have not set the depth chart behind him as of yet. I'll be meeting with Coach Rossi this afternoon. We had another young man come out this morning to try out, so to speak, to walk-on, and we'll see how he performed as well and we'll not release his name as of yet.
But going forward, we'll have something in place this week, and hopefully have some answers as we get later in the week as to Kyle's availability. The one thing he will not do is kickoffs; that I can tell you right now. Kyle will not do kickoffs.
We'll evaluate the field goal issues as we go forward. We have an opponent coming in here, an undefeated conference opponent in Syracuse, 1-0 in ourconference that is an excellent football team, most prolific passing game in our conference, designed by Coach Marrone who was with the Saints as they were building that Super Bowl Championship team a couple years ago, as fine an offensive coach as there in the country. Nate Hackett, from one of the first family's of the coaching trees around the country, his dad Paul has a very long resumé, and Nate is an excellent young offensive coordinator who is going to have a long career and has done a great job.
No. 1 passing attack in our conference, a very talented group of receivers surrounding Ryan Nassib, who has been the top quarterback in our conference a great challenge to us, a greatchallenge for our entire defense, not just the secondary, to try to minimize their effect on the game.
But they have got excellent running backs, as well and they just have recently unleashed a No. 34 who is a big back, who they played quite a bit against Pitt, who is very tough to tackle.
On defense, very aggressive style of defense, attacking style of defense, certainly gave us a lot of problems last year. Really limited our ability to run the football, pressured our quarterback throughout the game. It will be a great challenge for us to move the ball this week and score points.
With that, I open it up for questions.
Q. Regarding Federico's injury, what can you tell us about it, and when did it happen?
COACH FLOOD: I really can't tell you anything about it. It happened on one of the kickoffs after the last field goal he attempted. But other than that I don't really want to discuss it. We'll have a plan going forward as we get into the week.
Q. Is there anybody else in the program?
COACH FLOOD: We tried out a number of guys last night, everybody, all hands on deck. All hands on deck. Depth chart will be coming out soon.
Q. Anyway it could impact your strategy, force you to go for two at times when you don't want to?
COACH FLOOD: I don't think it will force us to go for two. I think we'll have the ability to kick extra points. I think probably where it has its biggest effect is that area of the field where you're trying to decide, are you trying a 50-yard or 40-yard. You have to figure out what the top end of his range is and game plan accordingly. I don't think extra points will be an issue.
Q. Sam Bergen?
COACH FLOOD: Sam should be available tomorrow. Should be ready to go.
Q. Special team scenario you hope to exploit a little bit more this week? Some mishaps, put it under special teams -- their net punting, their kickoff returns, they are struggling with that?
COACH FLOOD: I think there were certain things we did well on Saturday on special teams from our perspective, covering kicks, coveringpunts against a really good kick returner I was excited about that. And there are other things we just have to be better at; our field goal protection which broke down on us one time, we have to get that shored up.
We have to be more consistent in the punting. I think Justin will do that for us. He's a proven commodity and hopefully we can continue to cover the kicks this week the way we did it last week. I think you look at things that ultimately are very important in winning football games, and starting fieldposition, drive start, as we call in coaching, is a critical, critical statistic, and we struggled with it in the second half.
We are fortunate to flip the field one time and turn it around, but we struggled with it the second half and we were not as good with it in the first half as we have been in other games. I think going forward, we absolutely want to be a bit better at it.
Q. You've mentioned a couple times throughout the season, Gary, how happy you are with his ability to do whatever you ask of him within the scheme. Is it hard to get a 19-year-old to be that unselfish in this age of like, you know, so much being put on individuals and stats and wanting to put up numbers, is it hard to get somebody to be that unselfish?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know if hard the word I would use. I think that goes back to the recruiting process. I think that goes back to the type of people that you recruit in your program. For us, to describe it in a simple way, it's certainly a long process, so it takes time over years, we get to know theseyoung people.
But you have to identify the players in your recruiting area, for us, the State of Rutgers, that can help you win a National Championship, and then you have a pool of players and out of that pool of players, you have to find the ones that are right for your university; right for the university academically; right for the culture of your football program.
And for us as we identify the quarterback prospects, unselfishness is certainly a big part of it. We want people at every position that are much more concerned about winning the game than they are any personal statistics.
Q. Is there any sort of special feeling about this game with both Rutgers and Syracuse having strong presences in New York market and how much that has meant the last couple months?
COACH FLOOD: To me, we don't need any more motivation, really, than winning a Big East Championship Game. For us, our motivation is to be 1-0 this week. You look at the rosters, obviously southeastern New York is a big part of the State of Rutgers for us.
For them, they really only have one starter over on offense from New York City, and two starters on defense from New York City. So I don't know if that -- if what you said is actually accurate. Three or four of their defensive linemen are from California and Virginia. Those are areas we don't really target in the recruiting process.
So for us, I don't know what that part that you said, for us, the only motivation that you need is to be 1-0 this week, to continue our opportunity to win a Big East Championship. That's really where we're going.
Q. Being a New York guy, is it strange to think that this could be the last time Rutgers and Syracuse meet?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's a statement on where we're at this college football. Change has become the new norm, and unfortunately some traditional games that have been played over the years won't be played anymore.
I think it happened, the first time in the Big East when Boston College and Syracuse probably had a long-standing tradition of playing every year, and now they don't play anymore and maybe they will again at some point. But there is nothing to say that maybe something can be worked out in the non-conference schedule but those are things I leave to Tim Pernetti.
Q. Are you using the same personal in the defensive line against Connecticut, were you played with the way that group performed?
COACH FLOOD: I was. I was pleased with the way they performed, and I think other than the established players, it's going to be another competition this week to see who fights for the extra reps. But the guys that did play would have an opportunity to play again this week; how much will get determined as we go through the week.
Q. Scott at the nose?
COACH FLOOD: Scott's proven over time that he's excellentat that position. Now Scott did a great job for us at three technique as well, but just because of where we are right now with Ike, we have more depth at the three technique position, having Scott at the nose guard spot is probably the best thing for us as a defense.
Q. How willing are to you trade off those sack numbers when you're still getting pressure on the quarterback?
COACH FLOOD: What do you mean?
Q. Sacrificing, meaning --
COACH FLOOD: Are you talking about our defense? Pressures, sacks, they all go into playing good defense. I think when people play us, there's a conscious effort to get the ball out quicker. I think that's why the sacks have been minimized a little bit.
I don't think anything has changed with the way we play defense, but I do think the teams we play are conscious of it, and I think that helps us as we go through the game, and I think it certainly has been part of the reason why you've seen our interception numbers maybe go up a little bit.
Q. The penalties, are they fixable and is there a feeling that if you keep on having double-digit totals, eventually it's going to cost you a game?
COACH FLOOD: I think when teams lose games, everybody tries to figure out the reason why. We looked at -- we are not happy with the penalties, we are critical of them in our staff room and with our players and we are doing everything we can to fix that.
You know, looked at a very interesting statistic, I think the five most penalized teams in the countryright now, their record is 21-3, so again, there's a lot of things that go into winning football games, drive start, turnovers, rushing attempts, rushing yards, those are things that have proven over time to win football games.
In no way shape form am I saying we are okay with the amount of penalties we are getting right now; we are not. We are doing everything we can to fix it but I think it would be a mistake to overreact to it.
Q. How did Savon hold up?
COACH FLOOD: Savon did an excellent job. Ran the ball very well in the minimal amount of carries he got but really made two tremendous blocks in protection to allow us to get the ball out in complete passes down the field against blitzes that ultimately would have got home had he not done his job.
Q. Coach Harmon and Logan took it hard when they had their big passing day; did their attitude on that give you a little extra confidence that they are up for this challenge, because obviously they are going to get tested again bySyracuse?
COACH FLOOD: I think this will be a great challenge for them. I do. I think any disappointment they had and any amount passing yards that Arkansas had will probably serve to motivate them. They can answer that better than I could.
But I don't think they are under-motivated when they play a team that maybe doesn't throw it as much as Syracuse does, but I think this will be a tremendous challenge. This will be another test for our defense and our passing defense, but it's not just the secondary, it will be the secondary, it will be the linebackers and it will be the defensive linemen up front trying to get a little pressure on the quarterback. It takes all 11 guys to play good pass defense, not just the back four.
Q. Along the secondary, how did Lorenzo Waters do coming off Arkansas against UCONN?
COACH FLOOD: Lorenzo probably played his best game of theyear against UCONN. We were very pleased with his performance, both fitting the run game and in the pass game. So we are excited. It was probably his best game of the year.
Q. The bounce back, as a player --
COACH FLOOD: I think when you play a good game, it gives you confidence. Now the most part of it is remembering why you played that way. When you play that well, it's probably because you prepared really well, and so you've got to go back and look at how you prepared and then try to out-work yourself the following week and that will allow you to grow.
Q. After watching the film, how did Jamil look?
COACH FLOOD: Jamil did a nice job for us on the inside, moving down the three technique for the first time, I thought we played good run defense and he's a big part of that.
Q. What did you like about what he did?
COACH FLOOD: What I like about the way he plays has nothing to do with moving him to three technique. He plays physical and he runs to the ball we effort that's as good as anybody else that we play with here on defense. Tremendous passion for the game.
Q. Paul is listed as a starter at fullback, do you see using him more exclusively there this week?
COACH FLOOD: I think you'll see Paul in a lot of different spots just like we do every week. I think you'll see him in the backfield. I think you'll see him on the line. I think you'll see him flexed out in the passing game. We do a lot of things with Paul because he has that type of skill set and that will be the case this week.
Q. Syracuse in the past always brought a lot of different blitz packages, do you see that on film again and what makes them successful in doing that, if they do do it on film?
COACH FLOOD: They do do it on film and they play good team defense and they play very aggressive defense. And they are going to try and make plays in the backfield. Again, I'm repeating myself like last week, because it applies: They play defense philosophically the way we do, even though the scheme is a little bit different. They want to make plays in their backfield. They have a tremendous defensive lineman No. 93 who is an excellent football player on the inside. They have a defensive end, Brandon Sharpe who is right at the top in sacks. They have some talented people up front which always is a great starting point to defense, but their scheme allows those guys to attack.
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