When Rutgers rolled out three freshman defensive backs for the first series against Norfolk State, it paid the price early with a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive in just 1:37.
The defensive secondary settled in after the early shellshock, but the test only gets tougher Saturday against Washington State and its pass-happy offense.
“Those guys are young players, so that was exciting for them,” said coach Kyle Flood. “As a coach, any time you put a freshman out there for the first time, you hold onto your hat. We’ll see what happens when they get out there. I’m pleased with how they got better as the game went on. I thought [defensive coordinator Joe Rossi] and [defensive backs coach Darrell Wilson] did an excellent job of coaching those guys through the game.”
“Now they’re going to be challenged in a much different way. Going from an offense that was a little bit more conventional that had a little bit more run attached to it to really one of the premiere passing attacks in all of college football.”
Norfolk State threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns against the young Rutgers defense while Wazzu struggled offensively in an embarrassing loss to Portland State. Mike Leach’s offense put up 307 passing yards and two touchdowns in the loss to an FCS foe.
“Coach Leach is as good at designing and attacking people with the pass as anybody in the country,” Flood said.
Playing Through Distractions
Flood received multiple questions from the national media about the recent distractions for the program, and repeated praise for his players about the way they came together through adversity.
“It either ultimately distracts the team or galvanizes the team,” Flood said. “I really felt like it had galvanized our football team.”
New Radio Home
The Kyle Flood Radio Show is back this year, but no longer in the heart of New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers announced the show’s move to Quaker Steak & Lube in Edison, N.J., which is not within walking distance of campus for students interested in the weekly event.