COACH FLOOD: Really exciting week for us. Tremendous opponent in the University of Houston, coming to town, 12 noon kickoff. Our student section of 10 thousand has been sold out for a couple of days. That's exciting for me. I can remember not too long ago being in that stadium in the Arkansas game and seeing the effect our crowd can have on the game. And with up tempo offensive with the way Houston runs it, a really hostile crowd can have an effect on the game. I know our fans and students are going to be ready at noon on Saturday to do that.
Really impressive team coming into New Jersey, Tony Levine has done a tremendous job there in his second season after taking over the program. You can tell that they have a special teams coordinator who is the head football coach. They are extremely well coached on special teams, No. 1 in the country in block kicks. They're also No. 1 in the country in turn over margin. They've got a very talented group of players and they do a good job of coaching them down there.
Q. Can you talk about from an opposing coach's view, what do you credit the fact that they lost their starting quarterback David Piland, and they've still been able to have a five game winning streak to start the season. Losing your starting quarterback could ruin your season?
COACH FLOOD: Yeah, it's a tough position to just put a guy in, and to have a true freshman playing, a kid from St. Thomas Aquinas, which is one of the better programs nationally, for a long time. They offered him at a very early stage. I remember talking to Tony about that. They obviously saw something in him that they really liked and thought would work in their system.
So I think that you have to credit them in two ways, one being able to identify and have talented players on your roster to put in there, but also in gaining a mentality in your team that it is a team sport. And it's going to be 11 players collectively at a time, 105 or more, collectively, over the course of a season or a game, that's ultimately going to win you football games.
Q. I think the perception of them is more of a passing team. But the balance between running and passing, is almost dead even. In that regard is that what makes them different than Fresno, or another passing team?
COACH FLOOD: I think they are very dangerous in the running game. And I think you're right, if your game plan is solely designed around stopping them from throwing theball, you're going to give up a lot. Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow, they handle the ball to quite a bit. They spread you from one end of the field to the other in terms of the width of the field. They're going to threaten you down the field vertically. They're going to make you defend the whole field. But if you don't start your game plan with stopping the run, they will take advantage of it and we've felt this way around here. Great defense begins with stopping the run.
Q. Could you elaborate on the special teams a little more, do they go blocking kicks the same way you guys do, when you see it on film and their return man, I think, is top 10 in the country, how important is containing him to field position?
COACH FLOOD: They have three block kicks on the season, all of them are field goals. Do they do it exactly how we do it? Not exactly how we do it. But I think what you'll find, in the teams that block kicks the mentality is the same. It's not that the scheme is necessarily the same. We adapt our scheme to what we see just like they do. But you need to have every player on the field that is assignment is to block the kick going as if they're going to block it every time. If you go after it with the attitude and the efforts that you're going to block the kick every time, if you get one a game you'll lead the country. They have three and they lead the country. So we're at two right now. I think it's more the mentality that is the same. They're a block team and it shows up on team with the way the players go after it. Damian Payne as their punt returner, Dem arcus Ayers, is the kick returner, they are very well coached on special teams.
Tony Levine has been an excellent special teams coordinator for a long time.
Q. With Louisville losing the CF, do you talk to your team about having everything in front and controlling on destiny or is it too early?
COACH FLOOD: I think Sundays are always a good time to show them the lay of the land in the conference. I think everybody sets out at the beginning of the year, and you're going to play 12, one game season, and everybody istrying to be 1-0 every week. If it all works out and our 12-0, that's great.
If you study football enough you know at the end of the season there just aren't that many teams left standing that have a zero in the loss column. It's too competitive. There's not that much difference between the teams week to week. It's the little things that win the football game. We run the ball, stop the run. Secure the ball, take it away. We're playing the No. 1 team in turn over this week. Special teams can win the game for us, it has won games for us under the past. And we're playing one of the premier special teams team in the country. We've got tremendous challenges. That game did not surprise me. I knew Louisville and I know central Florida has an excellent team. You saw it in a number of games over the weekend there's not that much of a difference in college football. You had better be ready to play and you had better play for 60 minutes every week in you want to be 1-0.
Q. With is Kyle Federici, how are you going to handle that?
COACH FLOOD: Kyle Federico will be the kicker to start the game.
Q. Is there smaller room for error with him, would you put Marsh in there if something falters?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know that. I think right now Kyle is our kicker and I've got confidence in him, and that's the way we'll go into the game.
I don't think there's any -- I don't feel any differently about Kyle than I do some of the other positions on the team.
Q. Looking at the depth chart with the way with the offensive line, no major changes during the bye week. What did you see from that unit as a whole over the last week and a half?
COACH FLOOD: I saw a unit that worked with the urgency ofa group that knows they need to improve. And that I felt the same way about other positions on offense. I thought we had a productive bye week. I thought we had a practice last night to start the Houston week. And I feel good about the direction we're moving in.
Q. You said on Thursday that Paul would miss this week and could return in two weeks. After this reevaluation of him, how much of a clear understanding do you have of where he is as opposed to where he started this whole thing?
COACH FLOOD: I have the exact understanding that I said last Thursday. That's the understanding. I'm not trying to avoid the question, but that's my understanding. He's not ready now. He might be ready a week from now. Very confident he'll be ready beyond that.
Q. I know you don't like to predict how things might go, but they played some wild games. These are statistically two of the worst pass defense in the country. Would you expect it to take on this kind of characteristic, where you see teams throwing the ball a lot. They just came off that type of game against BYU?
COACH FLOOD: They did, and I caught a little bit on TV onSaturday. I felt we made some tremendous project in that SMU game. We just didn't do it for four quarters. I thought for three-quarters we did a really nice job. You have to do it for four quarters, sometimes longer as we've shown this year in over time. I look at their scores, and they've won a game against Temple and against Memphis, and theyjust played a 46-47 game against BYU, even with them they've been in somedifferent games in this season. I think that's why it's hard to predict. I feel good about our improvement in our pass defense. And as I've said to the defense, now we've got to do it for the duration of the game.
Q. What have you seen from Cioffi that's made him a definitive starter?
COACH FLOOD: Definitive starter is not a compression I'veever used. Here's what I've seen in Anthony that in my opinion allows him to deserve the start the game. He is a very attention to detail oriented person. He takes coaching very well. And he plays very hard. He plays with tremendous, tremendous effort. And I think all three of those things combined have allowed him to improve to the point now he's the starter. And you see him be productive in games.
Q. With this pass defense, your thoughts on starting two true freshmen?
COACH FLOOD: It's a great challenge for them, and it's a great challenge for us as a football team. After six games, I don't know that they're true freshmen anymore. They've played on a national stage against really potent offense like SMU and Louisville. I didn't have the same feeling as the Fresno game. We've played half a season now, so I think they have a certain degree of experience.
Q. Does anything change from a standpoint when you're playing a -- againsta true freshman quarterback? You might have that two weeks in a row?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know that it changes in terms of your game plan, because you have the game plan, their scheme and their personnel, and their play makers, and he's certainly one of them. But I think as games go on and you see how a player who is a younger player handles a hostile environment, things could change within the game, that's for sure.
Q. How is Stephenson come along at corner? I think he was moved there last week from safety I know he played there in the spring, if they go four or five wide how comfortable are you with him on the field?
COACH FLOOD: I thought the line had a good week in practice. I thought he made the transition from safety to corner nicely. I think you're going to see him early in the game on the sub packages. And maybe in rotation, we'll decide that later in the practice week. He'll be in the game and he'll be playing.
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