COACH FLOOD: Our athletic director Tim Pernetti is here, and he's going to be available here at the podium afterwards to speak a little about some of the relief efforts and some of the ways that we're trying to get involved to be a part of the solution with what's happened here in our local areas due to the hurricane.
What I have brought to the podium here is our helmet. We try to do this, and we did it last year for the first time and now we're fortunate to do itagain when we're playing Army. And really this is just our way of honoring all of the men and women around theworld that serve our country and protect our country the entire year. So we're excited to do it, and hopefully the people around the world will get a chance to see the game. They'll draw some pride from it the way we have.
With that, talk about the game with Army. I think one of the things I could say to you, I worked on a staff one time with somebody who had worked at the United States Military Academy, and we were getting ready to play one of the academies. I was just asking them about the lifestyle and the type of player and the program, and he said somethingvery insightful, and I've never forgotten it since playing these type of games. What he said was you have to remember is that for those players at West Point, football practice is the easiest part of their day.
When you put it in that perspective, you find out in a hurry exactly what you're in for. You really can throw the records out the window when you play an academy, and I think that showed up last week in their game versus Air Force. I don't know how many people who aren't familiar with academies would have expected that outcome. It was no surprise to me.
You can expect to be in a battle, a very tough-fought battle for the duration of the game regardless how that game goes, and you're always going to get an extremely spirited effort from their football team. And they're a very well-coached football team. Coach Ellerson does a tremendous job, and I think they've gotten a little better. I think sometimes records don't always show that, but I think every year he's been there, their team has gotten harder to play against.
You see it on offense if we start there. They're an option attack. They're the number one rushing offense in the country. They have two players on their offense that average over a hundred yards a game and another one that averages over 70 yards a game. They have a quarterback in No. 8 who is the only player in the history of Army football to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards in his career.
You think of all the great Army football teams over the years and all the great players that have gone through there, to hold that distinction tells you exactly what type of player he is. And he's another senior quarterback and senior quarterbacks are always tough to play against. You're not going to rattle them. There are not many things that you can throw at them that they haven't seen before. He does an excellent job running their offense.
They're athletic up front on the offensive line. They're not as big as the traditional offenses that we see week-in and week-out, but they do a great job of getting on your legs. That is going to be one of the keys to the game for us on defense is staying on ourfeet.
They have goals that they go into. When you talk to people who run this offense at the college level, they have goals that they go into every game in terms of how many times they can knock the opponent down. That is really how they create their big plays, which is really the last thing I would say about their offense. If you really look at how their offense has success and the drives that their offense has that ultimately may lead to touchdowns, you see that generally there is a big play, an explosive run inthose drives. I don't know that that's unique to the option, but it certainly holds true even more for an offense that's as determined to run the football as they are.
Then on defense, they're a very well-coached defense, and they're very difficult to play. Just like their offense, it is the only time of the year that you have to game plan against this scheme. That is a unique challenge for the players and the coaches in your program. They do that to you on offense with the option. They're the only option team we'll see all year, and on defense, with their Desert Swarm defense, it's the only time of year. There is very little carryover to the other defenses that you see. So it will be a unique game plan. Something specifically for them.
And they do a great job running to the football. They play with a lot of strong safety, Will linebacker body types on their defense. And the one thing you see is tremendous effort and tremendous swarm to the football. They get a lot of hats there.
They've got a good defensive line, but they're going to give you different looks up front. They're going to give you different pressures, different line stunts, and we'll have to do a great job of making sure that we execute the plays one level at a time. In the run game, that means you better execute the first level blocks before you rush to the second level, to the third level. And in the passing game we've got to make sure that we protect well before we can worry about getting guys out in routes and throwing the ball down the field, et cetera. Because if you don't block the first level of the run game and you don't protect well, it's going to be very hard to move the ball against this defense. With that, I would open it for questions.
Q. Can you talk about how the team has dealt with the emotions of last week and the hurricane?
COACH FLOOD: I thought from a program standpoint the players and the coaches handled it about as well as we could. I said this to the team last week, we were distracted as a program, but distracted for all the right reasons. There were a lot of things going on in our local areas here in New Jersey and New York that were much more important than a football practice. But with that said, there were certain things that were out of our control.
So we did practice for a certain period of time during the day, and when we had time later in the week, we had players going back into their communities and here on campus trying to help in whatever way they could.
But I think when we came back yesterday, it was a very focused group and a very good start to our game week.
Q. Last year was (Indiscernible) considered a defensive success?
COACH FLOOD: I think when you talk about success against the option teams, what you're trying to do is limit them to less than three-and-a-half yards a carry. If you don't, they're going to get first downs. I think that's how defensive coaches would judge it. The other thing I would say is this: There's only two ways to stop this offense. One, limit them to three-and-a-half yards a carry and make them punt and the other one is to get them to turn the ball over.
You'll find in some of the games where people had success against them defensively, turnovers were a part ofthat. Because of all the ball handling that goes into running this offense, there are going to be opportunities for turnovers in the game, and we have to make sure we capitalize on them.
Q. In that vein, is it also important to get a lead because it at least alters a little bit of what they want to do if you build a double digit lead, for example?
COACH FLOOD: Correct. That's the way to say it. As long as they feel like they're within striking distance, they don't change theirpersonality. But if you're fortunate enough to get them in a situation where they have to throw it, that's not something that they are proficient at because it's not what they believe in.
Q. What's the kicking situation look like now?
COACH FLOOD: For us, the kicking situation has not changed. Kyle has started to kick field goals live, so to speak, but he's not a hundred percent right now. If he's not a hundred percent, I don't know that he'll be our starter on Saturday. So it will be interesting to see.
He did a little yesterday. It will be interesting to see how he feels today and get him out there tomorrow at practice and see him kick. He hasn't kicked with a rush yet. But he's kicked with live timing and live speed. So he's one step closer to where -- it's probably one more step he's got to take before I would put him in a game.
Q. Missing a day of the bye week because of the storm and then you also missing that day later in the week, did you get everything out of the bye week that you had hoped with a little shortened week?
COACH FLOOD: I think we got out of the bye week what we needed to get out of it. I think you have plans and then you have things that happen in life that are more important than your plans. I think that's what happened last week. So I don't have any concerns about anything that we may have missed last week.
When we came back yesterday, our players were in a very good place and our staff was very prepared for the game week, and we were able to get a little bit of a jump on this game plan that we normally wouldn't have had we played on Saturday.
Q. How did people within the program get by with the hurricane and everything? Everybody okay, families, stuff like that?
COACH FLOOD: We were fortunate here locally, if I just deal with the coaches' families and the players here on campus and the onesthat live off campus. We were very fortunate that there wasn't any devastation. There were certainly things that happened and power outages and we had a number of families, including my own, that were out of power for a while. Mine personally came back late Friday, so we were able to get everything up and running Friday evening and into the weekend.
I know some coaches -- we have a couple people in the program that are still dealing with power outages, but for the most part, we're in pretty good shape. We still had three players when we came back yesterday that were dealing with power outages, and we've done some things to make their situation better.
So we were very fortunate compared to all the other things that were going on around the state and in the area.
Q. Do you think your defensive players enjoy playing the triple option?
COACH FLOOD: I think they do. I think they really embrace the challenge of it. It's a different scheme of defense that we have to play when we see an option attack. But we've been playing this defense against this offense for a number of years now. I know the players who have done it before, the Scott Vallones and the Steve Beauharnais, et cetera, they really take pride in their ability to change gears for a week and get this game plan mastered as best we can and then accept the challenge of stopping the number one rushing offense in the country.
Q. How has Gary been able to bounce back from his last performance?
COACH FLOOD: I think it's no different than coming back out after you have a great performance. When you throw for touchdowns in the second half versus Temple or have a good game versus a team like Arkansas or you don't play as well as you do versus Kent, you have to examine it. Examine the things that didn't go right, why didn't they go right? Examine the things that did go right. There were certainly things in that game that did go right for them. Why did they go right? Make the corrections, but then the critical part is make the corrections and then move on. Because, again, this team, new defense, new players, different match-ups, different scheme. It's a completely different animal.
So you have to learn from your mistakes because those situations are going to come up again at some point, but at the same time you have to be able to shift gears and start to learn a new game plan.
Q. How much did this weekend affect you guys recruiting? I know you like to go out on bye weeks. How did that go?
COACH FLOOD: It changed a couple of our plans. We were able to do, without getting into specifics of the schools and the players, we had originally planned to go out and see games. Most of the games in the area were cancelled with few exceptions. So for the most part we were able to get out and see practices. There were some teams locally that were practicing, so that's how we used the time.
Q. Were you able to practice today or will you start practice tomorrow?
COACH FLOOD: Well, what we do on these weeks is we practice on Sunday. When we're coming off a game, that practice is generally pretty light, but because we were coming off a bye week, we did a traditional type practice last night in the stadium.
The players are off on Monday because this is the traditional day they were off in a game week when we play on Saturdays, and we'll come back tomorrow and practice with a normal Tuesday.
Q. The focus was good?
COACH FLOOD: I was very pleased. I said that before we left. It's important that they get away. It's important they get with their families and do whatever they can do at home in their communities. When we come back on Sunday, it will be critical that we are a focused football team and getting back into the business of being 1-0. Because even though we're in the last of our three-, four-game seasons, the only thing we can control this week is to try to be 1-0 versus Army.