COACH FLOOD: Another exciting week for us, opportunity togo down the Turnpike and play a regional football game.
As I've said in the past, I really enjoy that part of college football. I'm not so sure how much longer that can be the case, you know, as college football evolves but I think when you have opportunities to play these regional games, it is always fun. I think a lot of the players know each other.
So it's exciting for us. They have an excellent football team down there at Temple led by a really fine football coach, Steve Addazio, one of the main architects of two National Championship teams at Florida, and you see pieces of that offense that won two National Championships. You see that in their offense at Temple and you see how they are progressing as the year goes on.
On a personal note, this is exciting for me, an honor to coach against Steve. Steve is one of the truly fine offensive line coaches in the country before becoming a head coach.
And I remember in the late 90s taking a trip up there when I was at Hofstra and he was at Syracuse; the defensive line coach at the time Dan Quinn and I, we drove up there to meetwith Steve and their defensive line coach Deke Pollard, another legend in the business.
And I always remember that visit up there, and I think as you talk to people who coached offensive line, certainly in the northeast, Steve was one of the truly fine teachers of offensive line, and everybody envied how hard and how physical his players played. And I think you see that, also, in this offensive line at Temple. They really are a good group and a physical group and make it very difficult to handle.
With that, I would open it up for questions.
Q. Temple's running back, what concerns you about him?
COACH FLOOD: Well, you know, he's the all-time leader in Boston College history in rushing yards in the three years he played there, so he certainly is an established player and has continued to do that. Now at Temple, 69 carries for 310 yards, over four yards a carry. And in this offense because there are elements of option in the offense, you know, it creates one-on-ones for a guy like him and he's a make-you-miss back, much like the one we have.
Q. This officially starts the second half of the season, where would you like to see this team make the next improvement or next step up just in general terms, is there one area?
COACH FLOOD: Well, I think as you go through the season, what really becomes critical now is your depth, your second level players. Maybe it's something that goes unseen on game day a little bit by the casual fan.
But every team at this point in the season has lost some players, has some players banged up week-to-week. Now the back half of your schedule is usually loaded with conference games, which in our conference are very physical games, and your depth really begins to show, the back half of the schedule.
So that to me is critical that the players who are really not playing as much in the games, maybe they play ten to 15 to 20 snaps a game, but those snaps are critical, because when they are on the field, they are the starter; they have to continue to develop their game as we go through the back end of the season.
Q. The kicking situation this week, kind of the same thing, wait and see with Federico?
COACH FLOOD: Right now, Borgese, if we played today, would be our starting kicker, and I think what we will do is evaluate Kyle as we go through the week.
I think like any other starting position, there's a reason why Kyle Federico was the starting kicker at thebeginning of the year. But, if he's not 100%, we have a lot of confidence in Nick that he can do the job for us like he did on Saturday.
Q. In regards to the quarterbacks, a couple now have thrown for big games against you; even though Nassib had a couple interceptions, threw over 300 yards; is that a product of anything they are doing or not doing, the secondary, or is it -- I mean, you've played the run very well obviously; is it a product of what you are focusing on more?
COACH FLOOD: I think the way you asked that question, is very interesting, because you said, they have thrown for 300 yards, even though they have thrown for a couple interceptions.
Those interceptions are critical. And I think some of the reasons those passing numbers are inflated is because of the way those games have gone. When you have a two-score lead, in our case, not just two scores, two touchdowns, two two-point conversions just to tie the game, it puts the other team in a position where they need to throw it and it changes the way you play defense.
And ultimately, even if you give up some passing yards, even if you can get them to turn the ball over, which we did, you're playing really good defense.
So for us, as I said before, it starts with stopping the run. That will never change; if you stop the run, you can make a team one-dimensional, you'll have chances to turn the ball over.
Q. How are you guys health-wise coming out of Syracuse?
COACH FLOOD: I feel very good. I don't think we are any worse for wear than we were going into the game.
Q. Any concern about the workload with Jamison? He's on pace for over 300 carries this year. Do you see any wear and tear yet? Would you like to ease off? He's averaging around 26, 28 carries a game.
COACH FLOOD: I don't have any concern for it. I think, you know, those things are things maybe you handle in your off-season program to make sure, just like we did with Ray. Ray carried the ball quite a bit his first and second year, and we did some things the second year in the off-season to make sure he was healthy and 100% and felt good going into his third year.
You know, I think this is the first time in his career that he is doing this, so I'm not really concerned aboutit. I think he's in excellent shape. And I also think Savon gets a little closer to 100% every week. As it happens, you saw it on Saturday, Savon had seven care he's in the game. We have somebody else that we have a lot of confidence and can make plays for us running the football. I feel good about where Jawan is right now.
Q. He came in last training camp and took a while to get going; how far has he come?
COACH FLOOD: I don't spend too much time looking at what happened last year. I know from when I became the head coach, Jawan had an excellent off-season, had an excellent winter conditioning program, had an excellent summer program. Coach Cole raved about him. And I'm really excited about what he's done since February, and I really believe he came into training camp in the bestshape of his life and I think that showed.
Q. As you begin the second part of this season, what has been the biggest adjustment you've had as a head coach this year?
COACH FLOOD: I think to me, it's really day-to-day, making sure I touch base with every part of the program. That's the biggest adjustment when you go from being really not a coordinator but being a position coach like I was as the offensive line coach.
Now being the assistant head coach, I had other things that I did that encompassed the whole team, but not really on a day-to-day basis the way I do it now. That's the biggest difference, instead of being in one room with one group of players every day, now I really need to touch base with every room in this building every day.
Q. Could you talk a little about the quarterback, it looks like he's a duel-threat guy who could run it in and maybe pass it?
COACH FLOOD: There's no doubt. I think what they have found in Chris Cover is they have found a guy who can run their offense the way Tim Tebow ran their offense down in Florida. He's that type of player. He has more carries than any other individual on their team.
So he is somebody that they want the ball in his hands. They want him to run the football. And when he throws it, just look at their receivers: No. 5, over 16 yards a reception; No. 27, over 25 yards a reception; No. 86, over 20 yards a reception; No. 80 over 30 yards a reception. When their receivers catch the ball, it's for chunks of yardage.
Obviously this young man has a talented arm, so he's a good runner, he's a durable runner to carry it thatmany times but he's not a guy who just has one piece to his game. He can throw it, and when he does, he makes big plays.
Q. Is there anything special about a game with so many connections between the programs, whether it be a guy like Smith on Temple, or that you scouted the majority of the players coming out of high school?
COACH FLOOD: For us the motivation is winning a Big East Championship. For us the motivation to do something at Rutgers that's never been done in the history of our football program. So it's not a motivational thing.
But I do think it's an enjoyable experience for the fans of both schools. It's a drivable game, so should be nice representation from both tools at the game. I think it's fun for our players, because I think they have familiarity with a lot of the players oneach team. I think that's always enjoyable.
But I don't see it as something that adds any more to the competition part. The competition part is taken care of because we are playing a Big East Championship Game, and our goal this week is to be 1-0.
Q. Could you talk a little about your pass rush, it looks like last week, you guys finally got multiple sacks there.
COACH FLOOD: I think some of those were on blitzes and Ka'Lial Glaud was on really just a three-man rush.
I think Coach Smith's done an excellent job of mixing pressure and then what we call an offense max drop,eight defenders in coverage. If the quarterback takes more time, which generally he does when you have eight players in coverage, we have some high motor guys on the defensive line; a guy like Ka'Lial Glaud is a truly high-motor guy and ultimately that's why he got the sack. Because if you watch that play, it started outside; he was rushing to the outside, was being blocked by two players. The quarterback was forced to step up in the pocket, and that's where Ka'Lial kind of burst back to the middle and was able to create the sack.
Q. Can you talk about two of your fine defensive players, Greene and Logan Ryan and what you've seen out of them first half of the season?
COACH FLOOD: Two of the better playmakers on our defense. Khaseem, certainly the position he's in on our defense, a lot of things get funneled his way and we are counting on him to make those plays. That's why he's there. He's proven he's been able to do that; certainly at a very high level last week, but consistently week-in and week-out, Khaseem makes a lot of plays for us.
Logan a lot of times get matched up one-on-one and does a tremendous job in coverage of being able to both cover receivers, defend passes, but he's also shown the ability this year to pickthem off, as well.
Q. Can you just talk about your defensive philosophy for fast guys? Marcus Thompson was a running back; Glaud was a linebacker; Greene safety; Jamil Morrell was a wide receiver; does that all play into it, wanting fast guys on defense?
COACH FLOOD: I think it does. I think every school has their philosophy of how they want to play defense, and we certainly have ours. And our philosophy always starts with speed, and that is not to say we want smaller players. We don't. We would love bigger players, and we have some younger guys in our program that are bigger, but ultimately we are never going to sacrifice speed to get size. We are not going to do that.
Q. How have your linebackers fared in pass coverage in your estimation this season?
COACH FLOOD: I think they have done a good job. I'm pleased.
Q. What pleases you about their effort?
COACH FLOOD: I think when you look at it, we have had theability to ultimately turn teams over, and that to me is the sign of reallygood pass defense.
I don't look at it in terms of yards passing, because I have yet to see the statistics that says, if you throw for this many yards, you win the game.
So to me, there are certain statistics that over time win football games; that has not been one of them. But I know turnovers are. Khaseem Greene with an interception the last two games, those are the things ultimately that help you win games.
Q. Going back to Khaseem Greene for a moment, talk about what makes him so special, makes him a leader off the field besides the performances he's put in for you?
COACH FLOOD: I think, and it's hard on our defense to really talk about just one guy when you talk about leadership. But if you ask me to talk about guys like Scott Vallone, Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais, Duron Harmon, Ka'Lial Glaud, Marvin Booker, I would tell you is the things you don't see are the meeting; are the film sessions that they have with each other where they say, hey, we are going to get together and we are going to do this. And they grab the younger players and they say, hey, we are going to get together and we are going to watch this film. They are not asking them; they are telling them. That's leadership. To me, leadership begins with actions not words. And I think those guys do that at all times, both on the practice field, on game day, and just as importantly, in the meetings.
Q. Tim Wright, is there something that -- he didn't have a catch this pastweek; why?
COACH FLOOD: It's really nothing more than the progression the quarterback goes through, and I think week-to-week, you know, those things are going to happen.
As you talk to our receivers, they are -- if you talk to our team it's a very unselfish team. I don't think anybody goes into the game saying, I want this or I want that. They know that however the plays play out, that's how they will play out. And this week it could turn out that he has ten catches, you know, things that have happened in the past.
But that's really just, again, we don't want Gary saying, I need a catch. That's not the way we want to play football.
Q. I know you say you take each game at a time, but what's it like to be part of this team --
COACH FLOOD: We are not oblivious to the excitement that it creates. It's exciting for the fans and it's exciting -- inaudible -- ultimately that play, that does not play into what happens this week.
And if you spend too much time patting yourself on the back for what you've accomplished, you're going to lose sight of what you need to accomplish this week, so we'll evaluate the wholebody of work at the end of the season.
Right now our job is to be 1-0 this week. I'm glad it's exciting for the fans, exciting for the students. On some level there's certainly an entertainment value to it which is important in college athletics but for us as a football team, the only thing that matters is being 1-0 this week.
Q. What have you seen from Carrezola from the fullback slot?
COACH FLOOD: He's done a good job of morphing himself more into that fullback role, and I think as he goes forward, he'll get a little bit better at it each week. It's not something completely new to him. We were doing it a little bit with him at the beginning of the year, but we are pleased how he's been able to take on more and more each week.
Q. Between the offense --
COACH FLOOD: Not really much in terms of plays. Really more just we play the game a little bit more in what is called 12 personnel, one back, two tight ends, instead of 21, which would be two backs and one tight end.
So we play with a little more 12 personnel, and kind of the emergence of Tyler Kroft has given us a little more flexibility, as well, to keep another guy on the field who has become an effective blocker and keeps good hands and runs good routes.
Q. Their quarterback does as good a job protecting -- how much more of a challenge does that make for you guys?
COACH FLOOD: A tremendous challenge. I forget if they are 12 or 8 in turnover margin in the country. They have done a nice job of taking care of the football and taking it away from their opponents, which means this Saturday it's going to be even more critical for us to protect the football on offense and on defense to create turnovers. Because this is a week where you never know how any game could go, but if you just use the past as a predictor, it may be a 0-1 turnover game and whoever gets that turnover, it will be critical.