COACH FLOOD: Exciting to begin our first home game week of the season. You see I have here on the podium our new helmet and I really got to give all the credit to Mike Kuzniak who continues to develop these ideas for us and this is something we are really excited about.
I know the players are excited about it, and it also gives us an opportunity to do something that we don't do very often, I'm not even sure of when the last time it has been done in our program, which is to wear our white uniform for a home game.
And with this new helmet coming out, we really wanted our home fans in our home stadium to have the first opportunity to see it live and in person. So this will be the helmet that we will wear this weekend with our white uniforms.
We've got some areas that we need to get better in as a football team, and I think as we watch the tape and we reviewed last week's game, just to say it one more time, on offense, we need to run the ball more consistently. We certainly had production and made some big plays and we are really excited about those things, but the consistency of the running game is something that we will focus on this week to eliminate the negative runs.
On defense we need to tackle better. When you play against a team that puts as much stress on you all over the field as they do, they really didn't stress us in terms of throwing the ball down the field. Their stress was really more in terms of spreading the field and making a tackle in space. And there's no doubt in my mind we are a better tackling football team than we were the other night, but we need to do that and we need to produce that on game day.
And I think in the kicking game, we just need to be more consistent. We have obviously got weapons in the kicking game that we can use, guys like JeremyDeering and Janarion Grant, and we have got a number of people that are going to be a threat to block a punt on any given play.
And we certainly have enough people in our program who are more than willing and able to go down and do a great job covering kicks. We can play at a very high level on special teams all the time and that is our expectation level in our program and we need to do that.
Certainly we work on everything every day, but those are the focal points for us this week as we get into practice and get ready for Norfolk State.
Something really exciting for our program are the contributions of ten first and second year players in that game the other night. As I've said, we have got some experienced players, but we have got a number of players who are in the beginning stages of their career and to see them out there and competing, it really is -- it shows you the bright future I think of what our program is.
And one guy who is not a first or second year player but was out there for the first time in a long time named David Milewski, he has persevered through a lot of different things through his career and played a fine football game, and is one of the emotional leaders on our team. I don't know, I couldn't be happier for any player than I've ever coached than I am for him in terms ofwatching him be out there and play the way he did the other night, and I'm looking ready to seeing him out there again this week.
Just to update you a little bit on the status of a couple of the players you haven't seen in a little bit. Unfortunately Myles Jackson and Jamil Pollard will medically not be able to return to football. They remain important parts of our family and our program here, and they will remain in our program. But you will not see them out on the field playing any more, and that's unfortunate.
Kenny Kirksey will not play this week. He has been suspended for a violation of team policy and he will return to action next Sunday night when we practice and start our next game week.
We have got a great challenge ahead of us this week, Norfolk State is a team coached by somebody in Pete Adrian who has been there for nine years now, and he's done an excellent job with thatprogram. The last time we played them, they played us very tough, and they consistently played great defense. In the last four years, they have been in the Top-10 nationally at their level in defense.
They look like a Division I defense: They have got three defensive linemen, 290 pounds, 285 pounds, 290 pounds, they have got to transfer a linebacker who is 6-7, 260 pounds. They play defense at a very high level and they have done it for a long time. They played -- I'm sure they are disappointed in their outcome versus Maine last week, but anybody who knows FCS footballknows that Maine is traditionally an excellent program and a team that not too long ago went on the road to Mississippi State and won. So Maine has got a very good football program and Coach Cosgrove does a great job up there, as well.
So it's going to be a great challenge for us, but we are very excited to be back at High Point SolutionStadium. I know the advance ticket sales have gone well and the student section is well on its way to being packed.
I had an opportunity to address all the first-year students in the stadium and took a few pictures and tried to put that out on Twitter and that was a lot of fun, and they seem very excited to get their first experience in the stadium and watch a football team that's going to give them everything we've got.
Q. Do you think the -- will you remind the players about the FCS success this past week, particularly in the league?
COACH FLOOD: We did. We did. As somebody who coached at that level for eight years, it doesn't surprise me. And we won't necessarily reference it, because we are going to be focused on who we are playing, but I don't thinkit's -- I don't think it's foreign to the players.
I think they see it, and certainly on TV, you turn the TVs on and it gets referenced; and when it's two teams in your own league, for sure, they are going to be highly aware of it.
And I think our motivation is to be 1-0 this week. I don't know that we need any more motivation than that. But if it helps, it helps.
Q. Why do you think that is, Kyle? Is that the talent gap decreasing between FCS and FBS? Why do you think the FCS teams have had so much success?
COACH FLOOD: It was easier when they called it I-AA. I don't know what the individual reasons in any of those games were. I did not see any of those games.
What people have been coaching a lot longer than me have said is when they reduced the scholarships in Division I to 85, it leveled the playing field, and that certainly sounds like a logical explanation.
I know this: Having been at that level, for the amount oftime I was and having worked with the coaches at that level, there's a lot of really fine football coaches at that level. We have had quite a few of them come on our staff here and some have moved on and gone to Tampa and other places, but there's no lack of talent and there's no lack of coaching at that level of football.
So when you line up and play, it's going to be your group of 18- to 22-year-olds playing against somebody's group of 18- to 22-year-olds. I think sometimes that gets lost because of the distinctions in level. So your team better be ready to play and execute if you want a chance to be 1-0.
Q. With the Kirksey suspension, is he going to practice and still be in meetings this week, and then how does that change the depth at nose tackle for the game?
COACH FLOOD: He will not practice and he will not be in meetings this week. He will do other things assigned by our program. In terms of the depth, it's going to give opportunity to other players; guys like Daryl Stephenson and Al Page all are going to have opportunities to move up the depth chart.
Q. Besides the obvious thing like the home crowd, what are the advantages of playing your next three games at home, as opposed to last year when you were pretty much on the road for all of September?
COACH FLOOD: As I said, we would like to play them all athome. I don't know if there's any advantage to playing three in a row at home. I don't see it that way.
We are focused on this week and we are excited to finally get a chance to play in our stadium in front of our crowd. In any given year, you're going to get six or seven Saturdays where you do it, and you want to take advantage of every one of them.
Last year we played three of our four on the road, and that's the way the schedule was. And this year, we play three of our first four at home, and that's the way the schedule is. And whichever one it is, we'll handle it each year but for us as a program, it's just focus this week, Norfolk State, and be 1-0 and then after the game, we'll move on.
Q. I see you have Paul James listed as a starter; can you just talk about that decision and maybe how far he's come?
COACH FLOOD: I think Paul's done a great job and certainly his production in the last game, he earned the right to go out there first in the game. The plan, going forward, is still to play two, and possibly three runs backs in the game and the production will dictate the carries.
Q. Were you hoping to use more running backs in that game, or just the way things happened, it didn't work out to expand the carries?
COACH FLOOD: I thought there was a chance but I didn't think it was a necessity. I think once Paul started producing in the game, we wanted to give him more opportunities to do that.
Q. You said the third one might be, is it Peoples or Goodwin; is there a pecking order?
COACH FLOOD: It could be more than that. It could be four. It could be Peoples. It could be Goodwin. I could see all four of those guys carrying the ball this year before you even get to Michael Burton.
So I think Goodwin and Peoples probably have a different role and skill set; so I don't know necessarily that it's a pecking order more than what the situation could dictate.
Q. Does Savon's role become more situational at this point, or is it just more giving James a rest when needed?
COACH FLOOD: No, I think it will be very similar to the last game. They will both be -- we are going to count on both those guys to be ready in every field zone and every situation of the game.
Q. Did you have enough sustained drives in the game? I ask that because it was almost counterproductive -- Paul James ripped off those two big runs, 155, 165; all of a sudden you are not holding the ball as long as you would. Do you have enough sustained drives in your mind?
COACH FLOOD: That is a great philosophical question. I've heard coaching staffs go back and forth on those type of things. I think the job of the offense is to score points and, at the end of the day, that's what they are going to be judged on, and the job of the defense is to keep the other team from scoring points.
I don't know that -- you can't tell the players not to make big plays. We want big plays, and when you are fortunate to make -- I think we made eight plus-20-yard plays in the game, and that's a significant amount. Our goal was six.
So when you have eight, it makes a big difference, and sometimes it puts your defense back out there a little bit quicker.
But I don't see it that way. I don't think so. I think the No. 1 job of the offense is to score points.
Q. When you look at the film, do you break down -- how many yards youhave to catch?
COACH FLOOD: I don't have it right now. I know we had too many missed tackles. What the yardage was after that, I don't have it with me right now.
Q. I saw you have -- Andre Civil is a game-time decision but Chris Muller is back with the first team. Can you talk about his performance against Fresno and how he responded to not losing his starting job the first time; I know you said that he's going to play a lot of football, but now that he's back officially as a starter, how he reacted to not being a starter.
COACH FLOOD: I don't think he reacted differently when hewas starting or when he was going out with the first team or not going out with the first team.
I think every player in our program would like to go out there with the first team every time, but if you get too focused on that and not focused enough on just getting better every day, it's going to be hard to pro did you see through your career.
I think Chris has done a good job for us. He'll start the game this week. Andre, we will re-evaluate later this week to see what his availability will be on game day, but Chris will take the bulk of the reps this week and we will start the game.
I was pleased a guy like Chris Muller or a guy like Keith Lumpkin in their first college football games in a significant role, I was pleased with the way they played, and I think there's a lot of things they can get better at, as well.
Q. When you look at the film, how much of a focus was the penalties and trying to limit them moving forward? Did that stick out to you for a first game, number of penalties?
COACH FLOOD: To us as coaches, everything sticks out: The penalties stick out, the lack of consistency in the run game sticks out, the necessity to tackle better sticks out, the special teams consistency sticks out, all those things do. We can't pick and choose in terms of what we evaluate and what we critique, but I don't have any doubt in my mind that we'll get better at it.
Q. You said at Media Day that what Coach Prince was going to require of your offensive linemen was going to take time and would require them to buyin. How has that process been through one week of the season so far?
COACH FLOOD: Was that my quote?
COACH FLOOD: You sure? (Smiling). I never had any doubt that our players would buy into what Coach Prince was doing. I think when you have a coordinator change, he's going to accentuate different parts of our pro-style offense. I think Ron has done that and I think he's done a good job.
I think as we go through the season and continue to develop as an offense, hopefully more things will become available to us as an offense.
Q. I know this is probably a futile question, but can you share anything of your conversation with Terry McAulay?
COACH FLOOD: I actually haven't had it yet. What I did was I -- what I do, and I think all the coaches in the league do the same thing, you send in the clips that you have questions on to make sure you're training your players the right way, and then he'll get a chance to watch them this week.
With no NFL schedule, because he's an NFL official, he's traveling back from somewhere probably seeing a game yesterday, and he'll be back in his office this afternoon and I'm looking forward to speaking to him.
Q. With Paul Carrezola as a game-time decision, how comfortable are you with Tyler Kroft, considering he missed so much of training camp; if Paul can't go, being the starter, and do you know yet who would be behind Tyler Kroft if Paul can't go?
COACH FLOOD: I'm not concerned about that. Tyler has played enough football here that he'll take the bulk of the reps this week, and he'll be ready to go; and then after him, you've got guys like Bellia and Arc that are going to have to step up, and when they are on the field, they have to consider themselves a starter and be ready to produce.
Q. Switching gears a little bit, how peculiar is it to have two big impact players from the same town, out of state, who went to two different high schools like you do in Brandon and Lorenzo? Have you ever seen anything like that before?
COACH FLOOD: Give me the question one more time.
Q. Same town, out of state, so not Jersey kids, that went to two different schools; how peculiar of a situation is that?
COACH FLOOD: That's a hell of a statistic right there. Good golly. I can't tell you how it feels because I never thought about it that way. But the Maryland / D.C. area is an important part of the State of Rutgers. Recruit5ing, to me, at the college level, the State of Rutgers always begins with New Jersey; that's where it has to.
And for us, that's the southern tip of our State of Rutgers before we go to Florida, and it's been a good area for us. Guys like Joe Lefeged have come through there, Wayne Warren, we have had quite a few good ones from that area who have helped us win games here and Brandon and Lorenzo are certainly going to do that for us, as well.