Flood Post Game, Rutgers Tops Norfolk State

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers coach Kyle Flood spoke to the media after a 63-13 victory over Norfolk State. Flood detailed the latest in an ongoing quarterback battle and the thin defensive secondary after five player dismissals earlier in the day.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood transcript

“Let me start by complementing coax Scott and his team, looking at Latrell Scott's resume before the game and knowing him personally to some degree, not really well, but we've had some conversations in the past. He's done an excellent job wherever he's been as a head coach. We knew they would be a well-coached football team. I thought they played like that and congratulations to them, I'm sure they will have that program going in the direction that they want it to move.

I also want to complement our student section. I thought our student section certainly well motivated, has been highly publicized, but they were great. They were energetic force for us today, even coming out in the second half, that student section was full and that was really exciting. I'm pleased with the direction that that's moving and I think as we go through the season, it's going to continue to be something that's going to help us.

I thought the football team did a good job today getting better as the game went on. Good football teams have to do that. It was our first opportunity to get out there and play. And at times we were sharp; and at times in the first half, we were not as sharp as I'd like.

But I'm pleased we got better as the game went on and I'm pleased we went out in the second half and really played some good football in the third quarter.

Q. Can you give us a time line of when you learned your players were under investigation?
COACH FLOOD: Why don't we do this: Why don't we do the game first and I'll take questions on whatever anybody asks, that way we are to the going back and forth.

Q. What went into your decision to pull Rettig in the first half?
COACH FLOOD: It wasn't a matter of pulling Rettig. I thought Hayden played well in the first half and we had an opportunity to get a live evaluation in a game environment on both quarterbacks, and I wanted to do that.

We're still gathering information. I'm really pleased with the way both those guys are playing. They are certainly not making it easy on me. Both played at a high level and we'll go back and we'll watch the film and decide here what direction we're going to go as we move forward.

Q. When you talk about the play, secondary, especially Austin and Wharton filling in after everything that happened this week?
COACH FLOOD: I thought the secondary in the beginning of the game had some things that we needed to clean up. I thought the coaches did a really good job with the guys on the sideline and I think as we got those things cleaned up, they played better as the game went on.

It just goes to show you, that's the difference between practice and the game. When a guy goes out there in a game environment for the first time, almost inevitably you see something that didn't show up in practice because it's a game environment and they are a young player, and that's why you don't see a lot of freshmen that go out there and play. But I thought they got better as the game went on and I'm excited about the kind of players they are going to become.

Q. You put Rettig in at the end of the game like you wouldn't normally with a backup quarterback, so you're not saying that eleven I can't know is the starter moving forward?
COACH FLOOD: No, we are not saying anything like that at this point. We have to go back and watch the film. I thought it was a great opportunity for Hayden's parents. They were in for the game. They came in all the way from California to get a chance to watch him play a little bit more. That's really what went into the decision.

Q. How and when do you think you'll decide on the starter for next week?
COACH FLOOD: The how part is easy to answer. The how part, we look at the film, sit down as a coaching staff, try to decide what it is we think we are going to need to do to win the game next week, and then by Monday or Tuesday we'll have a decision on that.

Q. So we shouldn't -- the idea that Laviano started the third quarter isn't a representation that he would have been the starter for the game had he not been suspended?
COACH FLOOD: No, I don't think you can -- well, let me say it this way -- you guys can; I can't live in that world of hypotheticals. The situation we were in for today's game was the situation and we handled it the way we did.

Chris went in at the beginning of the third quarter because I wanted an opportunity to see both quarterbacks in a live situation and I thought Hayden did a really nice job in the first half, and I wanted to see what Chris could do in the second half.

Q. You picked a quarterback and stuck with him primarily your first three years. Are you open to rotating guys week-to-week or within the game, or you trying to find one guy and stick with him?
COACH FLOOD: I just talked to Coach Groh on my way up here and I said this to him. He was sharing a story about a situation that he had when he was the head coach at Virginia. I said: In all my years, I don't know if I remember a situation like this where both quarterbacks were both doing a really nice job and playing at a high level and the decision part of this has become a much longer process than I anticipated.

When I said seven to ten days in the off-season, I believed it would be seven to ten days and somebody would separate themselves and we would have a starting quarterback and we would go forward. This is a little bit of unchartered water for me.

But what I don't want to do is just make a decision to make a decision or just choose one quarterback because that's what I've done in the past and that's what I've been more comfortable with.

What I want to do is whatever is best for this football team to be 1-0 each week, so I think I'm going to have to be open to that as we go through the season.

Q. Second half didn't seem to slow Leonte down --
COACH FLOOD: Well, Leonte is a good player and I don't think that's a surprise to anybody. I'm sure when he came out in the second half, he was highly motivated.

One of the things that makes Leonte the player that he is he loves to compete, and when he doesn't get an opportunity to compete on the first half, you can pretty much assure yourself he'll be ready to go in the second half and he certainly was.

Q. How important has Anthony Cioffi become to this team with how thin the secondary is?
COACH FLOOD: It was really important before any of this happened. Anthony has been a playmaker for us. He had an interception today which doesn't surprise me. Always on special teams and on defense he has always seemed to find himself around the ball. He has told me on multiple occasions that he could play on offense.

But right now, where we really need him, is in that secondary, you're right, and he gives us an older presence and somebody who has been in the games before. So no doubt he's a very important piece of the puzzle. Because of the player he is, and the versatility, for sure, but I think it's probably more about the player he is right now.

Q. How important is Saquan Hampton to the depth of that secondary; you talked in the spring and summer, how much he's improved, comes out today and gets four solos?
COACH FLOOD: We are excited about Saquan Hampton. We have been for a long time. His opportunity and his percentage of play certainly went up this week. All those young players in the secondary are going to have to come along as quickly as possible right now.

Q. Is there any consideration of moving anybody, like Justin Goodwin?
COACH FLOOD: Everything is in consideration. Everything is in consideration. We will consider everything and anything on this football team each week that will help us be 1-0 and we are fortunate that we've got really unselfish players that will do that.

Q. With all that's gone on this week, were you surprised your team was able to focus so much on the game and perform the way it did?
COACH FLOOD: I was not surprised. I had said during the week: I felt that when you have situations like this, it generally goes one way or the other. Your team other becomes distracted or your team becomes galvanized, and I thought this football team became galvanized. I'm proud of them. Those young men down in the locker room did an excellent job this week of focusing on the task at hand.

Q. How do you think your young secondary did today overall?
COACH FLOOD: I thought they got better as the game went on. When you make a commitment to play young players, you do it with an understanding, they are not going to be perfect. That's the reality of it. I lived it as a position coach.

I remember Anthony Davis, he was on the sideline today -- I remember Anthony Davis playing as a true freshman and as talented was he was, he wasn't perfect. I remember Art Forst playing as a true freshman, another really talented football player for us but he wasn't perfect.

Young players got to catch up to the speed of the game. It's not something that you can -- it's not something that just happens in training camp. You have got to get in them in the games and they have got to do it.

Q. Can you talk about how valuable Janarion Grant is to the team and how he can change the complexion of the game?
COACH FLOOD: He's a special guy. Janarion is a special guy. You saw it in the past and you certainly saw it today when he took the opening kickoff back and he's one of those players that every time he touches the ball, he's got an opportunity to score. And those guys are special and he did it again today on special teams and he's going to have a big role as a wide receiver for us, as well.

Q. What went into the decision to keep Paul James late in the second half given the knee injury and might have tweaked it in that one scrimmage?
COACH FLOOD: When the medical staff tells me a player is 100 percent ready to play, he plays. What we were doing, I believe at that point in the game, was we were rolling the running backs through on a rotation and what I said to Coach Wilson is, "Keep the rotation going."

Q. Turay comes in and gets a sack after being listed as questionable. People expected him not to playtoday given the circumstances. Can you talk about how important it was for you to see him get out there, and not only play, but play at a high level and grab a sack?
COACH FLOOD: I'm not surprised that he was able to get a sack. Kemoko is a guy who -- his skill set is going to lend itself to third down. And he's not 100 percent for us right now, and we need him to be 100 percent. We want Kemoko to be an all-down player. I don't want Kemoko to be a specialist. I don't to be a third down pass rusher. I want him to be a first, second and third down player, so that he can have the kind of impact on the program that we all want.

Q. Do you think he's close to making that impact?
COACH FLOOD: Well, I think he will be close when he gets healthy. It's hard. It can't happen by osmosis. He's got to get out there and be able to practice and because he was limited in training camp in terms of practice sessions, he's not quite where we hoped he would be right now. That's not his fault. Players have injuries and you have to deal with it. I'm not placing blame. It just the situation that we're in.

Q. Can we switch gears?
COACH FLOOD: Sure. Is there any more questions on the game?

Q. I would just defer -- he asked you, any time line as to when the guys might be under investigation by the police.
COACH FLOOD: It's really -- I'm not at liberty to discuss it. It's an ongoing investigation. The only thing I can say, and I think Hassim can confirm this for you guys later on; that from the very beginning, we've been completely cooperative with the authorities.

Q. Can you address why they practiced on Wednesday?
COACH FLOOD: I'm sorry?

Q. An you address why they practiced on Wednesday or throughout the week, throughout training camp, and throughout on Wednesday? Injury.com has a report that authorities were here investigating on August 25, the last day of training camp and they confiscated players's phones. Can you just address why the players practiced throughout the week including Wednesday?
COACH FLOOD: All I could say is we had no reason at that point for them not to practice.

Q. Were you here on August 25, Friday, when the authorities were here investigating and confiscating player phones?
COACH FLOOD: Again, I can't comment on what is an ongoing investigation. I think those questions, if you want to refer them to the New Brunswick Police Department, that's probably where they should go.

Q. How about the perception of the program with all the headlines about the players arrest, dismissed, suspended, obviously your investigation; what's your concern about the level of perception of the program nationally right now?
COACH FLOOD: My answer to that question would be this: The people that know our program, the recruits that are committed to us right now and in this current class, there is no perception issue with our program. I believe those players and families were very well quoted this week.

The people that know our program know the success we've had on the field, they know the success we've had in the classroom. They know the success we've had in the community: Things we've done with Special Olympics, things we've done with Embrace Kids, things we've done with First Battalion 114th Infantry.

The people that know our program and the people that are invested in our program, that issue doesn't exist.

Q. Are you disappointed that you went to bat for some of these kids and they ended up in this situation?

Q. This happened in April. Was there an inkling from you at that point that something was amiss?
COACH FLOOD: You've got to explain that question to me a little bit.

Q. The alleged assault happened in the spring. Were you aware at all that anything might have been remiss, and is it part of your job to have known what was going on with your players at that point?
COACH FLOOD: I think all that stuff, guys, is a part of an investigation that I can't comment on.

Q. Whose decision was it, obviously President Barchi sent out a statement, obviously you saw it last night --

Q. -- where he called the behavior abhorrent and unacceptable. Can you react to his decision, please, and can you tell us whose decision was it to dismiss the players? Was that a football decision or school decision or both?
COACH FLOOD: I will start by saying I did read Bob's statement. I have not spoken to Dr. Barchi, but I completely agree with it, and it was my decision.

Q. Do you feel like you have support from the administration?

Q. Do you regret reinstating Ruhann Peele?
COACH FLOOD: Yeah, I think that's the same question you just asked, right, Steve? I would say that I do.

Q. How troubled are you to have five-year players to get arrested for crimes like this?
COACH FLOOD: It rips you apart inside. As the head coach, what you try to do with over a hundred players on your team is you try to bring people into their lives to help them make good decisions. And when something like this happens, as the figurehead father of the program, it just rips you apart inside.

Q. Can you just walk us through that day was like for you personally, emotionally and what you said to the rest of your team? And I guess the reason I ask that, if that's the message you would share with the general public, as well.
COACH FLOOD: I don't even know if I would have the words to verbalize it. You know, when it happens -- it's really hard. It's really hard. You talk to the rest of the team and you continue to talk about decision-making.

We won't stop doing that. We won't stop bringing people into their lives. We did it again last night and we do it every Friday night when we are in the hotel as a team, try to bring somebody into their lives to speak about being a better person; speak about someday being a better husband; someday being a better father. And we are not going to stop doing that as a program.

It's unacceptable what those players did. But I'm going to tell you, there's a lot of players down in that locker room right now that you're going to get an opportunity to speak with that are really -- that I'm really proud of and that I'm proud to have on this football team.

Q. What changed between Thursday and then today -- dismissing them today -- just more information?
COACH FLOOD: At the time of the first release from the athletic department, we were unaware of, really, what the charges were.

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