Six days and counting for the most anticipated game in Kyle Flood’s tenure at Rutgers. Penn State comes to Piscataway with both teams on the verge of top 25 status and tied for the lead with 2-0 records in the Big Ten East.
“I do think first impressions matter,” Flood said. “For a program over time, I think we’ll be judged more by consistency of play at a high level than we will be any one game.”
Body of work normally wins out, but try telling that to the sold-out crowd and buzz building within the Garden State.
“I think for the players, it’s a game that a lot of people around them have wanted to talk about it,” Flood said. “The time wasn’t right to talk about it because we weren’t playing that game. Now it’s an opportunity for us to start conference play. It’s an opportunity for us to be 1-0 in the Big Ten Eastern Division. Anything above and beyond that is not the way you want to think about the game as coaches or players.”
As far as gamesmanship heading into kickoff, Flood downplayed the significance of one game but also had fun with a question one day after James Franklin pretended not to know the next game on the schedule.
When asked why Flood calls Penn State “that team from Pennsylvania,” he said, “I think there’s a lot of ways you could describe where that university is and what they are – some I use, some I don’t.”
Not Concerned -- Flood said he is “not alarmed” by the way Howard ran the ball and broke tackles against Rutgers, but that there is plenty of room for improvement.
“I’m not alarmed, I guess, by it,” Flood said. “Some of those yards come in the fourth quarter are when we get guys in the game that aren’t initially going to be in the game when it’s all said and done. Could we have executed better? I think we probably could have executed better in a lot of places yesterday. I don’t think it was our sharpest performance. The next time we’re up 31-7 at the half, I would like to see us come out and play a little bit cleaner in the second half.”
Communication is the top area for improvement for a defensive coming off back-to-back inconsistent showings.
“If we communicate better, we’ll play better,” Flood said. “Communication to me, when you have multiple people trying to work in unison, on the secondary, on the offensive line, if there’s any lapse in communication, it can have an effect. I think there were a couple of players there where we could have done a better job of communicating, we’ll execute better.”
Look for both to continue to find playing time, especially with the absence of Justin Goodwin on special teams.
“I was pleased that they secured the football,” Flood said. “I think as they get more experience, they will read things in a little bit better than they did. They were very anxious to get their shoulders square, which is a good thing and it’s an aggressive way to run. If they’re just a little bit more patient, I think they’ll be a little bit more effective.”
Health Update -- Freshman cornerback Dre Boggs projects to be full go for Penn State with Flood still unsure about Goodwin, who started the opener. The updated injury report drops tomorrow morning.