Sunday Flood: Big Ten, Huggins, Etc.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood discusses the Big Ten situation, the play of quarterback Gary Nova, keeping his team focused while being a win away from at least a share of the Big East title, the health of Jawan Jamison, the play of Savon Huggins and much, much more.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood addressed the media today, a day after the Scarlet Knights (9-1, 5-0 Big East) beat Cincinnati 10-3.

What can you say about the Big Ten?
I've heard a lot of things over the last eight years, I realize the best thing for me to do is not react to it. Those types of decisions and stuff, I leave those in the hands of athletic director Tim Pernetti and the athletic depart, they're going to make sure, regardless of what happens, that we'll be in a good place.

Will it be a distraction to the team?
I don't think so. It's certainly nothing that impacts us this year. It's not even a topic of conversation with us with the team. We have a really great challenge ahead of us this week in going to Pitt and trying to be 1-0. Anything that may or may not happen down the road in terms of conference affiliation, that's not going to have an effect on us this year.

Is there concern about a let down?
I don't think those things are a concern for me. We have a team right now that is focused on trying to do something that's never been done in the history of Rutgers football, and we need to be 1-0 this week to be able to do that. I think this team throughout the course of the year has done a good job of preparing and that has turned into wins in every week but one, and I have no reason to believe we won't do an excellent job preparing this week as well.

But isn't it human nature to have a letdown?
Human nature and complacency, those are things that happen when you have immature football teams. This is a mature football team. We have two games remaining in our season. We have a tremendous Big East contest this week on the road against a football team that has been very competitive the entire year.

And they're coming off a bye so they actually have two weeks to prepare for us and I'm sure they're a little bit ahead of us in this point of the game right now. They've got a pair of excellent, excellent running backs, they've got a very fine defense. You put the film on, there's not going to be anything but a highly motivated team when we get on the plane to go to Pittsburgh next week.

How did Savon Huggins feel after 41 carries and what is Jawan Jamison's health?
I'm sure Savon's body will feel a little differently today than what he did yesterday when he woke up. He came out healthy. When you carry the ball 41 times, you're going to more a little bit slower the next day but we'll have him up and running around in a little while.

And Jawan did an excellent job in his role. He was not 100 percent and we went into the game saying we would use him as needed, and the opportunities he did get, he was very productive. Four carries for 37 yards. He really allowed us to give Savon whatever rest he needed during the game so that he could ultimately carry the ball 41 times.

I was very pleased with what Jawan was able to do for us this week, and I would imagine that by next week he will be healthier.

What message does it send to the team when Huggins does what he did?
I don't know if it sends a message to the team. I think the team had a lot of confidence in Savon. He is an extremely hard-working player. He's always very prepared. He has done an excellent job of being a great teammate this year and embracing whatever role he had in the game plan, and this week his role was expanded and he did an excellent job with that.

Can you assess Taj Alexander's performance at right guard?
I was pleased in its entirety. I think as the game went on he got better. I think that's what happens when you have a player that doesn't have a lot to experience to draw on. He has some, but not a lot. I thought Taj did a good job.

I'm really excited about what we were able to do on offense given the fact our starting fullback, our starting right guard and one of our tailbacks where not able to really play, with the exception of a few plays with Jawan, and to be able to run the ball for 234 yards against that defense is quite an accomplishment and a testament to how well those guys prepared during the week.

Is it a weird situation knowing the Pitt game could be meaningless because a win vs. Louisville the next week may be needed to gain the Big East title outright?
No. The only thing we will be focused on this week is beating Pitt and being 1-0. Any of those other things will not come into play at all in any of my decision making (with playing guys like Andre Civil and Jamison). Anybody who is healthy enough to help us be 1-0 this week will play this week.

Will you talk to your players that clinching at least a share of the Big East title is on the table with a win at Pitt?
I don't think I need to sell them on that. I think they understand if we can find a way to be 1-0 this week, then that will be something we can say about this team that has never been said in the history of Rutgers football. I think that is a motivating thought in their minds, and we'll on from there and see where that takes us.

Was it a perfect defensive performance at Cincinnati?
I think perfection is not a word coaches use very often. I don't think I would use it in this case. When the players come in and watch the film I think there are going to be things I think we can do better, but I would say the result and the production of our defense was as good a defensive performance I've seen in the eight years I've been here. …As a unit, that is a performance that is very impressive.

Are you concerned about QB Gary Nova turning the ball over
No, and I think Gary has shown the ability to learn from all his mistakes as we've gone through the year. The first interception was a busted protection and he couldn't get enough on the ball to throw it out-of-bounds, where he was trying to throw it. That was unfortunate and not something I would attribute to him.

The second one was a decision I think he would like to have back and a mistake that I don't think he'll make again. I don't have any concern about Gary. I think he's in the beginning stages of his learning curve, and as the season has gone I have not seen a lot of repeat mistakes.

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