COACH FLOOD: Exciting week for our football program. AN opportunity for us to have 21 of our seniors run out of the tunnel at High Points Solution Stadium one last time. I know that will create a very special atmosphere both for them and their families, and for us as a program; and a program coming to our stadium to play us in South Florida that is building their program under their head coach, Willie Taggart. They hold two wins over teams that we don't this season, and I think my hat is off to Coach Taggart and his staff. You can see that they have stayed the course through the year and they are implementing their system.
Q. When you practiced, did you get any gauge for the mood of the team?
COACH FLOOD: We did not go out last night. We had meetings. We watched the film, offense, defense and then special teams and then we had a team meeting. Not unusual this time of year not to go out on a Sunday -- last week we practiced on Monday.
We gave them off on Sunday, so it was a little bit different because we were coming off the Thursday night game. But I thought the best thing for us to do last night was really watch the film, make the corrections, get their bodies healed up as best we can and then get back to work tomorrow morning.
But I thought the mood of the team was good, and it's not -- when I say good, I don't mean happy. There's not a lot of happiness when you're 5-6, but I see a lot of determination in their eyes and a lot of anxiousness to get back to work to be 1-0.
Q. Any sense of urgency, last game, besides the Bowl game?
COACH FLOOD: There's no doubt. There's no doubt.
Q. The schedule is so front-loaded with really good veteran quarterbacks on the other side. Did that have any effect, do you think, in terms of, -I don't know, hurting the defense's confidence here at end of the season when they are playing quarterbacks they should do well against in terms of they had struggled early? Or did it do anything in terms of masking some of your deficiencies because you kind of tip your cap to those guys and you expect those guys to make plays. Did the way the schedule set up, did that hurt you guys here at the end?
COACH FLOOD: I don't think so. The schedule is what it is. We don't have -- we have some say in the out-of-conference. The out-of-conference is dictated by the conference, so you're going to play good players throughout the year. Any team on our schedule has really talented players, and when you play them, you have to execute betterthan they do.
Q. How important is it to get the win and get Bowl eligible and get to a Bowl?
COACH FLOOD: Every opportunity you get to be 1-0 is critical throughout the year. Where the games fall, when the opponents fall, that's not our concern. This.
Week we have an opportunity to be 1-0 against a football team that's going to do everything they can to try to keep us from being 1-0. We understand completely what the results of that will be, and those things are great. But.
If you put your focus on those, you're not going to be as ready as you need to be to play the game. You've got to put your focus on doing your job within the system to help the football team be 1-0 and then all of those things we'll talk about after the game.
Q. What do you feel like you need to do to get the running game going more? You said yesterday that behind P.J. it's been pretty tough to find production.
COACH FLOOD: It has. I think we've got to be more physical up front; lineman, full backs, tight ends, receivers. Everybody in the blocking unit needs to be more physical.
Q. Ruhann is not the starting corner on the depth chart. What's the plan for him, is it still both ways?
COACH FLOOD: He will play both ways. We have not completely finalized the plan. We'll do that a little bit later today and tomorrow in terms of what his role will be.
He will play on both sides. I think he showed once again how valuable he can be on offense. And we need to score more points than we are. That was part of the reason why he played more on offense last Saturday, and he'll play asignificant amount on offense, but he will also play on defense. We'll get that more defined as the week goes on.
Q. You spoke confidently yesterday that the program is going the right direction. From the outsider's standpoint, nearly every indicator seems to be stating otherwise. What specifically do you see that makes you feel like Rutgers is heading the right direction?
COACH FLOOD: I see the youth movement of the program, andthat, to me, is why I can be so confident in stating that. I think it's 18 or 19 first- and second-year players right now that are playing a significant role.
And sometimes when you have that many young players on the field, it's frustrating; it's painful; it's hard to watch. You want to perform better; you want to make plays; you're a step late; you miss a tackle; you drop a ball. Those are things that are happening right now, and there's no excuses for any of them.
We are a 5-6 football team right now. We have an opportunity to be 1-0 this week, and our last opportunity to play in this stadium for our senior class.
But every day I go out to practice and I see those young players, and I see improvement -- and I know the difference that a year can make, and I think you see some of the teams around the country that are having some of their, maybe their all-time seasons, and you can look back to a year ago, and see that they were in similar positions to what we're in.
Q. Do you think the expectations were then too high early in the year based on the youth?
COACH FLOOD: You'd have to tell me what the expectations were. I try not to put -- the expectation we have as a program is to be a championship program. That starts with being a Bowl Championship program and we have an opportunity to give ourselves a chance to do that this week if we can be 1-0.
. Above and beyond that, I think different people would probably give you different expectations if you asked them at the beginning of the year.
Q. At this time of the year, with you guys playing this week in December, you guys can go out on the road recruiting and stuff. How do you balance that and is it a disadvantage having to play this late?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's a little bit of a disadvantage,because you can't devote all your time to recruiting, and there are teams that we are recruiting against that can do that because of the way their schedules fell.
But we'll balance it. We'll balance it throughout the week without sacrificing any of the game planning, because the recruiting is always at the forefront and is always critical and you have to do it all year round. You can't ever take a day off.
But in terms of the physical part of going on the road recruiting, the most important job we have this week is to be 1-0.
Q. I know there's one, possibly two games left in the season, but how would you assess Jeremy Deering's transition to safety?
COACH FLOOD: I think those are things that we'll look at the end of the season, and look at the complete body of work.
You know, right now, Jeremy has worked very hard every week to become a better safety every week. Has he accomplished that? I don't know if any player ever accomplishes that every week. But I'm very pleased with the way Jeremy is working, and I think at times he's played the position very well. At times I think he would tell you he could probably play it better. But the overall evaluation, we'll wait till the end of the season for that.
Q. You obviously talked about the dig routes giving you guys problems. What about the bubble screens? That's obviously something you've seen a lot and seems like teams have been able to make some big plays. What are you seeing there and what are you maybe not doing well enough defensively?
COACH FLOOD: I think what you have to do to defend those plays is be really physical on the perimeter. First play of the game, Anthony comes up, he's trying to be physical, but he gets a little too thick on the blocker and the ball goes outside of him when his responsibility is to make sure he sends the ball back inside.
So I don't think there's any -- there's no magic to defending those plays. You have got to be physical on the perimeter, you've got to set the edge and then everybody has got to run inside-out to the ball.
Q. Switching gears a little bit to Robert Jones, what does it take to hold that position for four years, and what makes him a suitable long snapper?
COACH FLOOD: Well, first, he's got the right physical skill set. He's excellent at snapping the ball, both in accuracy and in terms of operational time. So he does a good job.
Now to do it at the college level in our system, you have to do more than that. You have to be able to block. And I think what's allowed Rob to do that over the course of four years, is every year, he's become a better blocker. He's really a little bit smaller than what you would call the prototype at that position.
We had a guy here when I first got here named Clark Harris who is still doing it in the NFL who is a bit more of the prototype. Now, Clark was also a great tight end for us; but Robert Jones every year has gotten bigger and stronger and better athletically, and that's allowed him to be an effectiveblocker, and be an effective coverage guy at times, as well.
Rob is one of the great success stories of our program. I still remember Kenny Trimmer at Caldwell High School calling me, because I had Union County at that point and saying: "Coach. I think I've got a guy that can help you. He's a long snapper."
I said, "Okay, send him over." And that was about the recruiting process for Rob Jones.
Q. Where would you expect -- because Todd has not started in two years before last week. Where would you expect him to make the biggest improvement? Is it almost a week one, week two kind of deal? It's been a long time since he's played that long.
COACH FLOOD: It has been, and I think we certainly hope it will be, and we're certainly working towards that.
I think now that he has been in for the entire game, he'll be able to go out there this week and probably be a little bit quicker as a decision maker. You know, that's just, really, fractions of seconds, but I think there will be a little bit more of a comfort level being back in the pocket afterhaving a week of being in the pocket.
Q. We talked yesterday about kind of some of the zone read stuff you were doing. Which member of your staff was I guess most familiar with that incorporated with that?
COACH FLOOD: We actually have got a couple people that have done it. I have it in my past when I worked at Hofstra ad Delaware. Coach Spence when he worked at Clemson, they did quite a bit of it when he was atToledo as the coordinator and Clemson as a coordinator, they did quite a bit of it.
And I think Coach Prince has done a nice job of really researching these things through the off-season. These are concepts that we have been working on for a long time and trying to decide when the best time to use them is. But I think you'll see as we go forward with our offense, we'll continue to try to stress the defense as much as we can.
Q. Staying on that topic, is that an area you might look to expand upon and open up the offense a little more with zone reads and maybe spread it out alittle more than a conventional pro style?
COACH FLOOD: I think any offense that's going to be successful has to have flexibility, and you have to have the flexibility toplay in different personnel groups, which we have done this year; and you have to have the ability to run the football, which we've done this year.
Do I think we can do all these things better? I do. So that might give you the perception thatwe've opened up the offense. I don't know if that will necessarily be the case, but I think we can do what we'redoing more effectively, and ultimately be more productive on the scoreboard.
Q. Your early impressions of USF's quarterback, a freshman, on film; what have you seen from him? What's he doing well?
COACH FLOOD: I think he's doing a good job of managing their offense.
And when you watch their film, it's not hard to see what Willie Taggart is trying to do, and I mean that in this sense. He is a Harbough disciple, Stanford-style-of-offense disciple, and you see all the elements of it. You see they are very determined to run the football, and they want a to run the football with tight ends, with fullbacks. Their backup fullback who plays quite a bit on the back and on the line, No. 96, I'm going to say is probably a converted defensive lineman at some point. He is a 6-3, 316-pound fullback and they use him quite a bit.
So they are trying to impose their will on you as an offense and the quarterback in their offense right now, is out there with the charge of managing the game. They take shots down the field. They max protect and they are going to try to stress you one-on-one on the outside. But their first priority as an offense is to run the football and physically wear you down, and they are determined to do it. I think that's probably where Coach Taggart's influence shows up the most.
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