Sunday Notebook: Flood Sees D as "Close"

Putting the focus onto South Florida and the final game of the regular season, Rutgers coach Kyle Flood offered a series of insights going into game week. Flood named senior Chas Dodd his starting quarterback, and discussed how close the defense is to fixing things, and how much it changes the offense to have Paul James injured.

The Rutgers defense allowed another young quarterback to dominant, but Rutgers coach Kyle Flood sees a team getting closer to its desired result.

Flood called the third-down pass defense "close" to getting fixed after the game, and elaborated on what he saw Sunday in his day-after teleconference.

"I would say this: We had two opportunities in the first half, legitimate opportunities, to intercept the football and we didn't get it done," Flood said. "If you get one of the two it significantly changes the game. If you get both of them it certainly affects it even more. But that's not enough. There are others that we're not close enough on. That's for sure."

The Rutgers defense, which removed Ruhann Peele for a heavier dose of Nadir Barnwell, struggled on third downs regardless of personnel. Connecticut quarterback Casey Cochran and the Huskies went an astonishing 9-for-15 on third down. Connecticut converted five third downs that needed eight or more yards.

"Nobody has a third-down percentage like that if every one of them is a contested throw," Flood said. "I just think football teams are going to convert some third downs, and on defense you are going to have an opportunity to create turnovers. We had three opportunities in the game to create turnovers and we came up 0-for-3."

Seeking Running Game Answers

The injury report comes out Monday morning, but running back Paul James is "50-50" according to Flood after a lower-leg injury against Connecticut.

If James cannot go, expect even more unconventional run plays. In Flood's eyes, the conventional plays are not working when it is not in the hands of James.

"We're going to have to look at all options because when I look at our running game after watching the film now twice we're just not effective enough running the football when Paul James isn't in there and we have to be more effective," Flood said. "We have to do a better job blocking up front. We have to do a better job blocking on the perimeter."

Flood turned to junior Savon Huggins and freshman Justin Goodwin after James went down with an injury.

Sticking With Dodd

Quarterback Chas Dodd showed Flood enough in the Connecticut loss to remain a starter this week. Flood benched captain Gary Nova after a poor showing against UCF.

Dodd now has the chance to start on his Senior Night, which will be his 18th career start.

"We're not happy that we had two interceptions but I can see the reasons why they occurred and we can improve on it," Flood said. "I do think Chas deserves another opportunity to go out there and improve."

Dodd went 16-for-35 with 286 passing yards and two interceptions. The lone passing touchdown came from holder J.T. Tartacoff, who will also be honored on Senior Night.

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