COACH FLOOD: I'd like a start by congratulating Coach Hazell and his team. Tremendous effort by them. A really fine football team, as we knew going into the game. I thought they played exceptionally well and certainly would not surprise me to see them go on and continue to have success as the season progresses.
Seven turnovers. Very difficult to win a football game when you turn it over seven times. All the reasons really we've been standing here and talking about how we've won games, protecting the football, running the football, starting field position. Really all three of those phases hurt us in one way or another today.
They certainly did a better job protecting the ball than we did. That's probably the most dramatic of all those phases. I thought their punter was exceptional. I don't know how much we could have done with that. We certainly tried to block him, weren't able to get there. He was able to flip the field on us quite a few times today. We knew going in he was very good and he certainly performed at a very high level.
The punt exchanges benefited them better than us today. They did a good job of running the football. We knew they had two good runners, an experienced offensive line and executed very well. Not so much that we weren't able to run the ball or didn't run the ball, but when a game gets like that, it's tough to get the attempts you would like to have.
I thought we ran the ball early in the game, but didn't have a situation in the game where we were able to continue to run it.
We're certainly disappointed. We're not happy with this second four-game season ended. But as we sit here going into the bye week 7-1, we have to evaluate why today happened and the reasons whey the other seven days happened and make sure we pick stuff out next week that we can get a little bit better at and get a little bit of a jump on preparing for Army, a different scheme, and go into our last four-game season, which will be critical and a lot of things will bedecided in our league in those last four games.
I'll open it for questions.
Q. How difficult is it to stay with a quarterback when he's thrown six interceptions?
COACH FLOOD: It wasn't difficult for me because I felt like we were still in the game, still had enough possessions to try to win the game. If we had gotten to the point where that wasn't the case, I might have gone a different route. We were still in a situation where if we could get a score, we could get a chance at an on-side kick and a chance to win the game.
It wasn't a hard decision for me. I think again it's one of those learning experiences that is not enjoyable, certainly not enjoyable to watch, but it's not enjoyable for him to experience it either. I think it's going to be critical to his progression going forward as a quarterback here.
Q. Was there anything you thought they did to confuse him? Was he pressing too hard?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know that. I will have to look at that on film. They did an excellent job on defense. They did some things on a pressure standpoint that they hadn't done on film. That's every game. Usually every team has something schemed up that's going to be a little different. That's not unique to this game. But I certainly want to give their defense credit, they did a good job taking the ball away from us.
Q. It's rare that you see a defensive end make one interception, let alone two. Was he just playing that play differently or did you not get a cut block?
COACH FLOOD: No, I thought it was an excellent reaction. Really one of those plays, I don't know if you'll see it again. You don't see it very often. The last time I can remember something like that, I'm sure it's happened since, I remember Julius Peppers doing it when he was playing at North Carolina. As an offensive line coach you tend to remember those type of things because they're so unique.
It was a heck of a reaction by him. I want to say he caught it with one hand on the field. I didn't see the replay. But a tremendous interception by that young man. I think the second interception he had was dropping into coverage, a little bit more conventional type thing.
Q. Is it a challenge to convincing these guys that all the goals for the season are ahead of you?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know all the goals for our season are still ahead of us. One is gone. That's the reality for most teams in the country. With the exception of maybe three, four, five teams in the country, to play for a national championship, you have to be undefeated. That's the reality of the system we're in right now. Until it goes to a four team playoff, I don't know that that is going to change.
There's a goal that is in front of us that's never been done at Rutgers, the Big East championship. And we have an opportunity sitting in conference play 4-0 to be able to do that over the last three games of our season. That will be conference games.
I think we'll be very motivated, there's no doubt about that. But I'm always up front and honest with the team. It is the reality of college football the way the system is.
Q. Any discussions with Gary about what he was seeing? Did you talk to Coach Brock?
COACH FLOOD: Coach Spence and Coach Brock had the discussions during the game. My message to Gary was simple. Take what the defense is giving you, don't feel like you got to get it all back in one play. Some of the interceptions, again, certainly Gary is going to look at the film and would have plays he'd like to have back, but the one-handed one by the defensive end, that's a spectacular play by that young man. One of them was tipped.
It's not all of those interceptions him not reading things the way he'd want to. There's certainly plays he'd like to have back. We'll look at those on film and go forward and make the corrections.
Q. Looked like there was an unusually number of missed tackles on the defense tonight.
COACH FLOOD: I don't know that yet. There may have been. I thought their players did an excellent job blocking. I think they've got good runningbacks. The combination of that could lead to that. That may be the case, but I won't know that till we count them up on film.
Q. What happened with stopping the run today?
COACH FLOOD: First thing you have to do is you better credit the other team with executing what they do. They have talented linemen and runningbacks. They executed better than we executed.
I think we got to look at the film to really see the specifics of why because during the game, Coach Smith is making play calls, we're making adjustments. But until we see the film it's tough to say for sure exactly what it is that was the one issue or if there was one issue.
Q. We've asked you about the first half offensive struggles. You haven't agreed with us. But today until the last four seconds, when you had the late drive, it was three points and very little offense again. You still don't accept that as a premise, that this team has struggled in the first half, slow starts?
COACH FLOOD: I think those are two different things. I think if you say did we struggle in the first half? We certainly struggled in the first half today, there's no doubt. I think there are reasons for that.
Maybe I don't hear the question the right way because when somebody says to me that you're off to a slow start, I take that as the team is not emotionally ready to play. That is not what I see when I put the film on. I see a team that is flying around, playing with emotion.
I would like us to execute better. We certainly didn't do that today. That's the game we'll focus on. And there's reasons.
But the reasons are lack of execution. We have a nine-play drive that ends ultimately in a field goal, but the reason we don't have an opportunity for a touchdown is because we get sacked on second down.
Then the third drive, we have a second-and-five, we have a false start. Now it's second-and-10, we end up punting. Those are things that have happened to us, or happened to us today. Then the third drive was the interception by the defensive end.
Those are the reasons, but that's lack of execution on our part, and we got to look at the film and say, What can we do better from a technique standpoint, from acoaching standpoint, to make sure we do it better.
Q. (Question regarding momentum and the fumble.)
COACH FLOOD: I think it's a big play. But I think there's a lot of plays in the game that ultimately go into the result. We're certainly not going to put more weight on that. But I think it's a momentum swing in the game, there's no doubt. It goes from a completion, an opportunity, I forget exactly what yard line it was, we're moving into the red zone or we're in the red zone, to being a turnover. At that point it's a two-score game, so you feel pretty good about your chances.
That's one of many things that happened. There's a lot of things that happened before that that put us in the situation where we're down two touchdowns. I don't put more weight on it, but it is a momentum swing, sure.
Q. Is a bye week a good time right now?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know. I've said before, and I will stick to what I said because I believe it's true. When you get your schedule at the beginning of the year, you find out when your bye weeks are. It's our job as coaches to make sure that we utilize them to the best of our ability to make sure the end of the bye week we're a little bit better, which certainly we got to be a little bit better, and the team is rested and ready for the next part of the season, which for us is going to be critical. We're going to come off the bye week, play a unique scheme on offense and defense versus Army, then three games left after that that are essentially going to decide the Big East championship. This is a critical week for us going forward.
Q. Typically the team would stay with the alma mater after a loss.
COACH FLOOD: That's actually not true. Since I've been here, we've done it after wins but never after losses.
Q. This is the first time in your head coaching career you had to talk to the team after a loss. What was your message and how do you process the next 24 hours?
COACH FLOOD: My message was very simple. They can expect me to be the same exact person I've been the entire season. As I said after wins, it's also true after losses. The next game brings different schemes, different matchups, different personnel.
So to think that the issues we had today will continue to be the issues next week or the reason we may have had success a couple weeks ago would be the reason we would have success today is the wrong way to think about it.
That next game is coming. It is a completely different animal than what we dealt with today. We got to make the corrections so that if we do see these issues in the future we handle them better. After we make the corrections, we have to move on, just like you have to move on after a win.