Less than 14 hours after Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova took a knee and the Scarlet Knights celebrated a 35-26 win at Arkansas, coach Kyle Flood already watched the game back on film and spoke with the media about it.
Can you assess the play of the offensive line in not yielding a sack and providing ample protection in the passing game?
“I was very pleased. They took another step in the right direction, and I think, at times, they tried to pressure us and I think we put the hats on the right people. I thought our tackles held up against their defensive ends. I think, for the most part, the pocket on the inside was pretty firm. There were a couple of issues, as there are in every game, but I thought Gary did a good job of getting rid of the ball.”
Can you provide an injury update on fullback Michael Burton?
“I have not met with the (trainers) and I probably won’t until (Monday) afternoon, so I don’t even know if I will have any by tomorrow’s Big East call.”
(Flood added he was “optimistic” running back Savon Huggins would be healthy for the next game.)
Can you critique Nova’s game after he went 25 of 25 for 397 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions?
“He certainly played an excellent game. The thing that I’m most pleased with is how many different receivers caught the ball. What that tells me is he’s not forcing the ball. He’s making the throws the defenses are giving him, and he’s giving the receivers and the tight ends and the fullbacks the opportunity to catch and run. If we do that, we have a chance to move the ball effectively on offense.
“I think every week Gary has done what we asked him to do. Gary is not the play caller. Dave Brock is the play caller, and in every game this year Gary has done what we asked him to do. Not always perfectly, but none of the players are perfect. But every game he’s gotten a little bit better.”
Why was Rutgers able to hit so many big plays in the passing game?
“I think it was a function of their desire to stop the run. Doing as good a job as we did running the football in the first three games, they made a significant commitment loading the box on us. When you do that, you get 1-on-1 coverage on the outside. I think the best example is the quick little pass we put out to Brandon Coleman. I think the corner slipped and all of a sudden it’s a 50-yard touchdown. I think that’s the risk/reward when you’re that committed to stopping the run.”
Can you talk about the decision to fake the punt in the second quarter?
“Really, it was a decision we made during the week. Most decisions on game day, you try to make them during the week in the calmness of the meeting room as you discuss it with the staff. (Special teams) coach (Joe) Rossi did a great job schematically of saying, ‘Hey, if you want to do one, I think we have an opportunity to run this.’ We set the parameters of down and distance and field zone, and it fell into everything and we called it.”
Are you happy with cleaning up the penalties?
“The ones we still have too many are the unforced errors. I think we had three false starts by the offensive line and one by the tight end. I think that will get solved as we come home, so that’s a positive. But that’s not the last time we’ll be on the road either, so we have to continue to work on it.”
Why did Rutgers use three defensive linemen instead of four in the second half?
“We felt like they were in a two-minute mode on offense. When they went into their two-minute mode, our two-minute defense is primarily a three-down (linemen) defense. So we were just matching personnel.”
How important was Jawan Jamison’s spin move out of your own end zone in the fourth quarter?
“Those are the types of plays that Jawan has consistently made starting with probably the last four games of last year and certainly carrying through this year. It’s a tremendous play in the game. For us, on defense, we always say, ‘If we can make a team punt it out of the end zone, that’s going to equal points for us.”
Certainly the converse would be true. If we’re punting out of the end zone it certainly would be hard for us to stop a team from getting points. When you are able to flip the field, even though we ended up punting the ball, it’s a major field-position swing and those field position starting points are critical in the game.”
Can you assess Scott Vallone’s game at defensive tackle?
“I don’t know statistically what he ended up with statistically, but he was an extremely disruptive force for them. I think they only attempted 19 runs in the game. Now, they went into two-minute mode in the second half and had a fair amount of success throwing the ball, but to only attempt 19 runs in a game that was fairly close most of the game, I think that has a lot to do with them maybe thinking Scott was a little too disruptive for them to handle.”
Would you rather play this week for momentum or have a bye?
“I think for us right now we’ve played four games and now we have an opportunity to get healthy, I don’t concern myself with momentum and things like that. There’s a lot of reasons, people will tell you, why you can let down. I don’t really believe in that. You play the way you practice. If you practice hard and you practice well, you have an opportunity to play hard, and play well.”
“Certainly, coming off the big win at South Florida, there was, ‘You’ve got to watch the letdown.’ I don’t see that. I don’t deal in that world. I’m concerned with how we’re going to practice Tuesday.”
Can you discuss your decision to start Andre Civil at right guard over Taj Alexander?
“We played Andre and we played Taj in the first half. As we got into the second half I leave that up to (offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski) as see how he feels. He is watching it more specifically than I am during the game. I would just say going forward that Andre and Taj are going to both play in every game.”