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Rutgers Football Press Conference Transcript: March 25, 2013
  • Posted on March 25, 2013 5:05:51 PM
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  • Rutgers Football Press Conference
    March 25, 2013
    Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti, Head Coach Kyle Flood

    Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti

    Opening Statement: “I just wanted to share a couple things, as you know we have done quite a bit at Rutgers however we could to support Hurricane Sandy relief. In the process we have worked with Governor [Chris] Christie’s wife, who has been at the forefront of hurricane relief efforts. Between the t-shirts last year to the collections our student-athletes did at games and the cooperation with Scarlet Fever, we wrote a check for $150,000 so far. I say so far because obviously this is going to be an on-going thing. Kyle [Flood] is going to talk a little bit more about what we are going to do this spring, but honestly when you have control of an operation like this and have the resources, we want to do everything we can to continue to volunteer and support – do all we can to make sure everyone’s life is back to normal as much as possible. Our piece of it might be small in the big scheme, but I saw the governor and his wife at the BIG EAST Tournament and they made a point to mention how appreciative they were of our efforts and that they are securing multi-million dollars donations to the fund from all over the state. That is really part of the reason why New Jersey is such a great place. We are excited about what we have done and look forward to the upcoming efforts. We feel lucky to have the resources to help the people as much as possible and get their lives back to normal.”

    On sources of the ideas: “Most of the ideas came from football. As you know, they have a really diverse staff from coaches to administrative staff and all the way down the line. And most of them are our guys, like Darnell Stapleton and Will Gilkison. Whatever you think they do all day, I can assure you that they are thinking about ways to help others, especially [Gilkison] since he was hit by the storm at Union Beach. So these ideas came out of football and I am glad that they did because I think they are terrific.”

    Head Coach Kyle Flood

    Opening Statement: “It is great to be back. Let me start by thanking Tim Pernetti, Jason Baum and the rest of the administration for their cooperation. Really, the person I think deserves the credit will be Will Gilkison for sure. He grew up in an area directly affected by Hurricane Sandy and has a lot of friends and family who live down there in those areas. Also Mike Kuzniak, our equipment manager here, they have worked quite a bit and hopefully creates something that would generate fundraising value. The helmet and the jersey, which will have some of the names of the towns that were affected by the hurricane, hopefully allow us the opportunity to give back. We have the opportunity to compete and play at a great university and now have the opportunity to help those in need. We are excited to do that.”

    On starting spring practice: “It was great to be back off spring break and see the players. I had the opportunity to meet with them today. This year with this team, there is a lot of youth in the room. That is exciting to me because I think we have a lot of talented youth on this team. Let me give you an update on the health and the injury situation. We, and when I say we I mean myself, the medical staff, Brandon Coleman and his family, have decided to do a minor procedure on his knee. We thought this was the best time to do that and he will not participate in spring practice. David Milewski has looked great coming of an ACL, but still is not ready for contact drills. Matt McBride is coming off a shoulder procedure and will not do contact drills this spring. Nadir Barnwell, who had a shoulder procedure after his state championship game, will be out there but will not hit this spring. And Kenny Kirksey is coming off a foot issue and we hope to have him back by week three of the spring. He will be limited in what he can do. Other than that, the rest of the players will be out there competing. Competition will be out in the forefront this spring. We have a lot of players at a number of different positions that will be competing for spots. We have a lot of spots on special teams that need to be filled, replacing guys who did a lot there. We have some depth to fill there. It is going to be an exciting spring, this is a different football team, a younger but talented football team.”

    On challenge of this season: “Without getting into it too much last, I felt like we had a defense that was established and working with them to make them better, but also an offense that had a lot to prove. I think we made some strides on offense, but not all the strides we wanted to. We still have some distance to go, but returning so many players on offense is exciting. I think having the opportunity to see the guys take the next step and at the same time develop depth and see some of the redshirted players. We look forward to seeing where they fit in and I think that will be part of the challenge. On defense it is almost different on every level. We bring back quite a few defensive linemen and it will be fun to see them practice and a challenge for the offense to have to block them. I think that will be the best challenge we can get. At linebacker, even though we lost two excellent players, we return two excellent players. At secondary we are going to have to see where the pieces fit. We moved Jeremy Deering to safety and he will start as our starting safety from day one. I think that is a position he has looked good at. Now he’ll be there full time and we will be watching that.”

    On scheming for new teams in the conference: “There will be some challenges, but I think that this happens when the teams do change because of coordinator changes. Those are things we will look at as a staff at the end of spring. Right now in spring practice, this is a time for us to find out what type of team we will be. Who are going to be the players on offense and defense that will be the playmakers? That is what spring practice will allow us to find out. After that we will get into the studying of the opponents and looking at the first third of the schedule a bit closer.”

    On the quarterback situation: “This is going to be an exciting spring for the quarterbacks. I am very excited for that group. I think we have a couple things happening at that position, including a player in Gary Nova who started all 13 games last season. That’s the first time we’ve had a situation like that in a long time. It is interesting to see where he is going to take his game this spring. With that being said, we have a lot of talented, competitive players in that room. Gary is the starter, but we have a guy in Chas Dodd who has started and won games at Rutgers. We also have some players behind him that are going to get an opportunity for the first time in their careers to play Rutgers football, like Blake Rankin, Chris Laviano and Mike Bimonte. There is a lot of competitiveness in that room, which I think will make them all better.”

    On the offensive playbook installation: “I would think by the end of spring we would have the entire playbook installed. I think with the group coming back and the system not changing, the toughest decisions coach Prince and the offensive staff are going to have to make are where are the playmakers. We know Brandon Coleman is going to be one of the elite playmakers in our conference and in the country and with him not being available in the spring that is going to allow others to step up. There will be no lack of opportunities.”

    On the defensive line: “I think the most important part of coaching is to not get wrapped up in scheme where you don’t put the best players out there. To have the chance to put Marcus Thompson and Jamil Merrell at the defensive end spots is what drove that decision. When healthy we are excited about this position. That competition will move forward.”

    On expectations of redshirt freshmen: “My expectations are mostly on effort. I don’t put expectations on where they should be after spring, but I certainly think they will be better than they were during bowl prep. All will have opportunities to compete. Spring practice is a clean slate. Where you start on the depth start is meaningless, where you end is most important to springboard to the fall.”

    On keeping Chas Dodd sharp as a backup and developing the backup quarterbacks: “I think what Chas needs is opportunity. I think every player that is not the starter going into the spring is looking for that opportunity. I would not want to limit him in that way. I want Chas to have an opportunity. With this team being a little bit younger, I will say this; we are going to practice a little bit longer than we did last year. I think we do need the reps and reps take time. I think we’re going to have to take a little bit of time away from the meetings and put that time onto the field, as we have the opportunity to do that, to make sure that we have enough reps in practice to not only get Gary (Nova) the number of reps he needs, but Chas the number of reps he needs. Then, certainly guys like Blake Rankin, Mike Bimonte and Chris Laviano, we’ve got to give them all an opportunity to show us what they have to make sure going into the fall training camp that we’ve got the depth set the way we needed to.”

    On what the kicking competition looks like between Kyle Federico and Nick Borgese and if Federico is fully healthy: “Kyle is fully healthy and the kicking competition will be Kyle and Nick and both of those guys will be battling it out. That is a position where we have two players who I think can go in and hit a winning kick for us. At different times during the year, I was very pleased with the way both of those players kicked. Now, having a little bit of the year to get healthy, they should both hit spring practice 100 percent healthy and I think that will be a good competition for both of them.”

    On moving Michael Larrow to tight end and what he thinks about the five offensive lineman that can in the 2012 class and what he sees from them physically along with what he expects from them this spring: “I don’t put expectations on the performance of a player, I put expectations on the effort. If they’re giving us the effort, I always feel like the performance eventually will get to where we want it to be. Those five offensive linemen are certainly five talented players. Now, for the first time, having redshirted all five of them, they’re going to get an opportunity this spring to show us that they can play Rutgers football in our system, against really good competition on our defensive line. What we see in Michael at tight end is an athletic player who is strong enough to block on the line of scrimmage. That’s what we’re looking for and I think that’s where he can help this football team. He has done that on a very minimal level, but what I’ve seen I have been pleased with. I think Michael is excited about the change. I think Michael is excited about the opportunity. Now, it’s just about going out there every day and getting better at his skill set.”

    On what he has seen from freshman QB Chris Laviano so far: “Really nothing, because we’re not allowed to. Chris has been working with the strength coaches and we do some offseason workouts that we have been pleased with, but we haven’t seen Chris throw a ball since he has been here at Rutgers. Tomorrow will be his first opportunity to do that. Now, we certainly recruited Chris because we thought he had a very talented arm and he was the right person for our program. I think as he learns our system and he is trained by coach Prince and coach Spence, he’ll develop into an excellent player. How fast that will happen, I don’t know that. I can’t predict that, but I’m anxious to see him out there tomorrow.”

    On how important secondary coach Darrell Wilson’s job becomes with this new-look secondary: “I think it becomes very important, but I think all of those jobs are important during spring (practice). I think we had better be building our base, our base of fundamental football, our base of knowledge within our system here at Rutgers. I think that’s the one advantage these players have right now is for whatever time these players have been here; they have been able to play in a system. I think every year you’re able to do that, you have opportunities to get better. Coach Wilson is a very talented football coach. He has adapted well in a short period of time to our system and how we play defense here. I think our younger secondary players are even less experienced, I’ll say it that way, because a guy like Jeremy Deering is not necessarily a younger player. They will all benefit from his experience coaching the back end on defense.”

    On if he anticipates an adjustment for the new coaches or if it has all been ironed out in the winter program: “I don’t know that it could all be ironed out during the winter program just because of the way the rules are set in college football. There might be a little bit of an adjustment period because the voices are different, but I wouldn’t expect that to take very long. I think these players on defense, they’ve known coach Cohen for a year now, but now they’re getting to know him in a different role as a coordinator. That is a different role and they’re seeing a different side to coach Cohen, but I worked with him for three years in that role so I knew exactly what we were going to get and how that was going to look on the field when we promoted him. There is always a little bit of an adjustment period when the voices change, but again with the system being intact, that will go a long way in helping.”

    On if there will be any noticeable tweaks to philosophies from the new coaches: “I don’t know that it will be anything very noticeable right away. I think what you will see as we go through the spring is you will see the better playmakers, probably more so on offense than defense, because I don’t know that this would evolve as much on defense in a short period of time, but I think by those last two weeks of spring I think you’re going to start to see the guys who emerge as the better playmakers, you’re going to start to see the offense move in their direction. I think all of the really good offenses do that.”

    On if there are things you will do differently this spring based on your first spring as head coach last year: “The only thing specifically that we will do different that will feel different if you were here for every practice, is we will be out there a little bit longer. We’ll go a little bit longer. We’ll have a few more reps in practice. It won’t be overly significant, but it will be enough to make sure that these redshirted players and these newcomers who just got here in January, that they have an opportunity to show us what they can do. If there is a freshman in this program that can help us be a better football team, we need to be able to see that and we need to be able to find a role for them going forward into the fall.”

    On if offensive coordinator Ron Prince is using the same terminology as last season: “It is, it’s all the same terminology. I think that creates a comfort level with the players on offense. With having five coordinators in five years, it’s not something that you ever plan to do it that way, but I think over the last three seasons having that terminology in place is only going to help us going forward.”

    On which newcomers he is looking to make an impact right away: “I don’t try to predetermine that. That is something that they will determine more than I will. I think what we have to do is make sure we give them all opportunity. If the younger players in our program, whether they were recruited in the last class or the class before that and they’ve just redshirted and then maybe been on the scout team for a year, you don’t know what the pace of somebody’s progress is going to be. There are certain players who come in here like Ray Rice and they win the job the fifth day of training camp. That happens. Then there are other players like Kevin Haslam who doesn’t really start a game until halfway through his third year and is not a full time starter until his fourth year, but both end up playing in the NFL and both end up helping us win a lot of games here at Rutgers. I don’t know that you can predetermine that and I don’t know that you’d ever want to try to even guess at it. I think what you have to do is give them opportunities on the practice field and as you do that, those position battles and those depth charts, they’ll sort themselves out.”

    On Quanzell Lambert and Nick DePaola at middle linebacker and trying to replace Steve Beauharnais: “I think the first thing you better have as a middle linebacker is you better be a good communicator. One of the things Steve did for us is make sure everybody was on the same page out there. It’s a very undervalued thing, I think, by the casual observer of football. That ability to communicate within the chaos of a football game and to do it in a very short amount of time, it’s not easy to replace. Whoever it is, that’ll be the first thing I look for. From there, I want to see them play the defense. We don’t need any superheroes out there. You don’t replace Steve Beauharnais, you don’t replace Khaseem Greene. There are people who play those positions and they have to play them within the defense. If they do that, we’ll play good defense because we have played good defense at Rutgers for a long time with a lot of different people.”

    On if spring practice is a time that he expects his leadership to emerge: “You hope it does. Again, it’s not something you can force as a coach. We have some tremendous leaders. Maybe one of the best leaders on our football team is Brandon Coleman. He will have to now lead from the sideline and I know he will do that. Certainly, at every position there has got to be leadership and then certainly on each side of the ball, you need to have that as well. Spring is certainly a time where that will happen.”

    On his take on the secondary going into the spring and what he wants to see out of the unit: “I just want to see them get experience playing in our defense. We certainly have some inexperience, but Tejay Johnson and Gareef Glashen have played a lot of football, it just hasn’t necessarily been in the games. Their inexperience in the games is not going to get rectified this spring because we don’t have any games this spring. Lorenzo (Waters) has certainly played a lot. He has a lot of experience for us. Jeremy (Deering) does not. So, we’ve got some moving parts there. Then we’ve got some other guys behind them that are going to get an opportunity. What I want to see them do this spring is just play within the system. That’s the most important thing to me. We don’t need anybody out there with their own agenda. Those kinds of players don’t work at Rutgers. If they play within the system there will be opportunities to make plays and then they have to make them.”

    On where Gary Nova needs to make the biggest improvement: “I think consistency of play is the most important thing at that position. Maybe you could say it about every position, but I think at the quarterback position especially, the biggest jump I’d like to see Gary make from last year to this year would be to still have the highs and the great moments that we had but maybe some of the other games where he wasn’t pleased with his performance, if we could move them up then you have a more consistent, higher level of play. Then, you play a better brand of winning football on offense. I think no matter what the offense is, there is always going to be more emphasis placed on that position. Quality play at the quarterback position is crucial to play good offense. If we could avoid the lows and keep the highs, we’ve got a chance to be better.”

    On DB Ian Thomas and what you see that makes you want to keep him on defense: “Ian Thomas was a move from offense to defense that we made during bowl prep last year at the urging of Logan Ryan. I was standing next to Logan in practice one day and Ian was covering one of the flyers on punt and Logan said to me, ‘Coach, you should try this guy at corner.’ I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ I said, ‘OK. You should tell him that and see if he wants to do it.’ He said, ‘I already did, he wants to do it.’ I said, ‘OK, not a problem.’ So, we tried him there and we were really pleased. He has got great feet. He had a willingness to tackle right away, which is one of the first things we have to look for from our corners because our corners are primary support quite a bit. If you don’t want to tackle, it’s hard to play corner at Rutgers. In the first scrimmage he was in, he actually made three tackles. I was very pleased with what I saw. He was excited about the position change and he sees opportunity there, for sure, which is part of the reason he is probably so excited about it. He’s a guy this spring that is going to have, again, spring is a time for everybody when it comes to the word opportunity. He has maybe a unique opportunity because of the amount of players we have to replace in that secondary.”

    On what kind of benefit a healthy FB Michael Burton can be to the running game: “Michael is another one of those players that would go into the leadership category and that’s in everything that he does. He had to lead, unfortunately for us being injured for the latter part of the season, from the sideline. Michael is a player who makes us a better football team when he is out there. We run the ball better when Michael Burton is in the game and we’re in a 21 or a regular personnel group. To have him back this spring is certainly a bonus to the entire offense. Now with that said, one of the things we better figure out and we better find is where is the depth going to come from at that position. I’ve said that before, but that will be one of the key position battles this spring is to find out where that depth is going to come from at the fullback position. When you don’t have it, when a guy like Michael Burton is not in the game you end up being in different personnel groups and that’s not always what you want to do.”

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