Associate head coach Norries Wilson returned the reins to Kyle Flood when Rutgers returned from Penn State. Still the interim head coach for two more games of a Flood suspension, Wilson spoke for the team Sunday in the Rutgers day-after teleconference.
Opening Statement – Listen, I spoke with [Rutgers sports information director Hasim Phillips] last night, and he told me that I inadvertently changed the protocol that usually happens at a post-game press conference. That was not my intention at all. If I ruffled anyone’s feathers, I do apologize for that but that was whole-heartedly and earnestly not my intent. I will take the questions as you all give them to me. I’m ready.
Question – Just looking at the running back rotation, obviously that’s something you’re very familiar with. Did you plan to stick with it or has Josh Hicks shown enough to maybe kind of be more of a feature back?
Norries Wilson – “Josh had a really great run last night. Speaking specifically to your question, we usually don’t talk about the rotation until Friday night, maybe Saturday morning of game day and then that’s when I’ll give it to the players. Coach Flood and I go through it and look at how the kids practice that week, how they’ve been focused in. He and I hash out what the rotation will look like at the beginning of the game. We haven’t done anything right now to name him as the guy that’s the starter of the game right now but we don’t play for another six days.”
Question – As a quick follow up, how do you think PJ [James] has looked in his return from injury?
Norries Wilson – “I think PJ has looked good. Last week when we played our previous game, he only played for nine snaps. He got hit on his hip there on a quick out, but he had some good seven, eight, nine-yard runs. He had some where he was stacked up that weren’t blocked great. The ball rolled against him some last night. It was tough sledding for everyone, but I think he’s looked good. He had to knock some rust off and get back in game shape through camp. I have full confidence in Paul.
Question – What was the give and take with you and Kyle [Flood]? Obviously now that it’s Sunday, he’s back around the program. What was the give and take like with you guys this morning? Did he have, I guess, more questions than normal. Did you guys talk more than normal since he wasn’t at the game? What was the give and take like as you guys reviewed the game?”
Norries Wilson – “It was a little bit more than usual. He asked about the demeanor of the team with him not being there and how those things went with them being able to focus in and be ready for the game and if there were any issues he needed to know about and things of that nature. Like I said previously, I thought the kids were focused in on playing. I’m not trying to diminish the fact that he wasn’t there, but his not being there I don’t think distracted them from going out and competing last night. Besides that, we talked about our regular post-game things as far as the game goes. That went well.”
Question – How do you foresee the coaching dynamic this week? Who runs practice? Who sits in the captain’s chair?
Norries Wilson – “When we’re game-planning, coach McDaniels will be in charge of the offensive game-planning and coach Rossi will be in charge of the defensive game-planning. I go back to my role as the running back coach. Coach Flood will be running the practices.”
Question – Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the film, what are your takes on the quarterback play last night?
Norries Wilson – “There’s some things that he could improve on just like there were at every other position on the team. Chris is a first-year fulltime starter and he did some things really well. He did some things that coach McDaniels is going to correct so he can go on and keep improving as a player?
Question – Is the plan for him to start next week?
Norries Wilson – “That’s going to be evaluated throughout the week, and at the end of the week, just like with every position. Just as I talked about with the running backs, if at the end of the week Coach decides that he’s going to be the starter, then he’ll be the starter. If he decides on someone else will, they’ll be the starter. Every position gets evaluated each week on how you perform in practices and how you handle the situations that you’re put in during practice.”
Question – What did you see from Marcus Applefield on film and how important is his role this week with the injury to Chris [Muller]?
Norries Wilson – “Marcus’ role is important every week regardless of whether Chris is injured or not. Marcus went out and competed. He got thrown in the fire at a time when he didn’t know he was going in. He just had to go in and play and trust his training. He went out there and fought. He made some mistakes. He went out there and he competed well. If it should turn out that he has to be the guy that starts this week, then we’ll get him coached up as best we can and put him in the best position to be successful.”
Question – What was your first reaction when you found out you would be the interim coach? How would you describe yourself as a coach?
Norries Wilson – “Because it’s been spoken of in hushed tones from a lot of people, I wasn’t shocked or taken aback by it. Coach came in and talked about it and outlined what the situation was. I immediately felt, OK this is going to be business as usual except for Saturdays, which was different but very welcome. Describe me as a coach, well, I think I’ve evolved over time and I’m not going to be doing a lot of yelling and screaming in practice. I’m going to be doing a lot of teaching to help them get better, help them understand. If I have to elevate my voice, something bad has gone wrong or I really need to get their attention. I try to give my players everything they need to be successful and I try to get feedback from them on what else I can give them to help them be even more successful.”