Good afternoon. Exciting week for our program as we get ready to go to Madison, Wisconsin for a game in one of the really exciting venues in college football - from what I've been told. I've never been there, but I've been told that, and even by my 13-year-old son, I've been told that. He's watched it on TV - to play a really good football team, 6-2 Wisconsin team. Coach Chryst has done an excellent job in his first year back at Wisconsin, a place he had a lot of familiarity with. They have done a good job on offense and they play great defense. They present a lot of challenges to us.
Q. Seems like every week we are asking about how you prepare for the opposing quarterback. Do you just prepare for Stave considering he was cleared, or how do you go about preparing for Wisconsin's quarterback?
COACH FLOOD: Watching the Illinois game, Joel got hurt pretty early in the game or left the game pretty early, let me leave it at that and I'll let them comment on his status.
But the Houston kid who came in did a really nice job. Not only did I not see them change what they do, I did not see them change the aggressiveness with which they called the game, either. They threw the ball quite a bit and they threw the ball quite a bit on scheduled downs with him.
So he's somebody who has been in their program and they must have a lot of confidence in him to do that. I thought he did a good job. He looks like a good player.
Q. Wisconsin's pass protection has been a little suspect this year, almost two sacks a game they are giving up. Given the lack of pass rush this season for Rutgers, are you doing anything in particular this week to make sure you get to the quarterback?
COACH FLOOD: We won't do anything different than we do every week. We've got to look at the matchups up front and see if we can predict how they will protect. I think every defense in the country is doing that. They are a little bit younger up front than they have been. I think three of their starters are red-shirt freshmen.
So I've been through that before and I know what that's like. I think if you watch their film and you watch their players through the year, you can see their players are getting better. So it's going to be something we are going to have to do a good job with on third down.
And pressuring the quarterback is something that's been important to us. It's the way we play defense on third down. So we are certainly going to look to play defense that way this week.
Q. Leonte is questionable again. Has he progressed since last Monday, and do you expect his practice participation to replicate last week's?
COACH FLOOD: I think, yeah, what you just said is probably right. I think it will be a very similar situation to last week where we are not going to know until the end of the week what we think the situation will be.
Q. As far as the running back rotation, any thoughts of switching it up as far as moving Martin up, seeing as though he's been real will he effective the last couple of games?
COACH FLOOD: We are going to keep the rotation the way it's been. I'm pleased with how those guys are playing. And I think if you look at the games, you'll see different players are getting different amount of carries in each game. We have got flexibility within the game but in terms of starting the game, I don't see any difference.
Q. And you said you didn't give any thought to putting Hayden before you did in the fourth quarter. Why not give him a series in the first half, because he's played well when he's out there, close competition, so why not give him a shot?
COACH FLOOD: Well, we have a starting quarterback and I always felt like you want to give the starting quarterback an opportunity to learn through the game; and learn from game-to-game which we have done with Chris.
I think although the last game was not his best performance, I think if we look at the season, he's gotten better and better and I'm pleased with how he's progressing and that's how we'll move forward.
Q. Your first year in the Big Ten, against some of the upper echelon teams, everyone knew it would be a building process to compete against some of those teams. Four games into your second Big Ten campaign, how do you feel like your talent overall matches with the upper echelon teams?
COACH FLOOD: I don't know if I want to make those kind of comments right now. We're so entrenched right now in the Wisconsin season, it's hard for me to comment on anything but that.
What we are looking at right now are matchups against a really good Wisconsin team: A defense that's eighth-ranked nationally in total defense, in rushing defense, fourth in red zone defense, second in scoring defense. So we're going to have to do a great job of focusing on that.
I'll leave those other observations until the off-season when we have had a chance to look at the whole body of work.
Q. We asked you about the quarterback. How about the running back, Corey Clement; do you expect him to play? I know he's been kind of questionable and missed a lot of games. What do you expect?
COACH FLOOD: Really hard for me to address it because I'm not with him every day. I've had players who have had that procedure and I know kind of the time frame and things like that but every one of them is individual, so I would really look to them to comment on it. I don't know what his progress has been and what his rehabilitation process has been like.
Q. Obviously one of the guys who stepped up for you stopping the run, Steve Longa, he's always had a lot of tackles. Is he doing anything to take his game to the next level, or are we seeing his tackles progress?
COACH FLOOD: I think what you're seeing is the evolution of a good football player. He's a good football player for us. He's in a spot in our defense that we need somebody who can get people on the ground and make tackles, so he gets a lot of opportunities and he makes the most of them.
So I'm pleased with what he's doing within our scheme. Do I think he's a better player than he was a year ago? I do.
Q. You've had some success early in the game, early first quarter, initial drives, getting some momentum but not being able to put some points on the board. Given they only give up 11 points a game, how important is it to get a score early in the first quarter?
COACH FLOOD: It's something you want to do. Every drive that you start, you want to finish it in the end zone with points. Those are always things that you want to do. But depending on where a drive starts, if you start the drive backed up inside your own five-yard line, there are different levels of success in that drive. The first goal is to flip the field, which means two first downs or the 20-yard line. If you do that and you get a good punt, you have significantly changed the field position. And I speak about that every week; the drive start in a game is so critical.
We are going to start every drive with the idea that we are going to score. Would we like to do it on the first drive of the game? Sure, we would, absolutely. But ultimately, will that be the determining factor in the game? No. We are going to have to play 60 minutes to be 1-0 this week.
Q. What did you see from the secondary on film given the injury limitations you had, and what do you expect with guys trying to heal up this week?
COACH FLOOD: It's a new week and similar to what I said after the game, we see guys out there competing. They are young guys. It's never perfect and sometimes when you have young players out there, you see some stuff and you shake your head a little bit.
But that's all part of the learning process of young football players in your system, and for us right now, a lot of those guys are in the secondary. They are competing; they are learning; they are taking the coaching. Those are the important things that we are seeing on a day-to-day basis and now we have to match them up this week with a good football team.
Q. With Grant on the injury report as questionable, if he couldn't go, who would you slide in at punt returner?
COACH FLOOD: Andre Patton.
Q. To piggyback on the secondary, what are the long-term benefits of playing such a young secondary, having so many kids back there?
COACH FLOOD: The long-term benefits are there's no better way to progress as a player than in-game experience and that's what they are getting. They are getting in-game experience against some of the best players in the country, and as a football player, in you're a competitor, even when those situations don't go your way, you've learned something from them and you're a better player because of it.
Q. Two weeks ago you talked about being fully committed to the healing process. I know you're fully immersed with football game planning, but have you gone about healing - the healing process with the community and what's been the tenor of your message?
COACH FLOOD: My only public appearances are probably on Wednesday nights at the radio show. I think interaction and the reception has been good. Right now our - most of what takes up our day is working towards being 1-0 each week.
Q. Andre Hunt is a guy with some connections to the Wisconsin program. Can you remind us or fill us in on how you came across him, because I think he was a walk-on. How do you come across him and what's his progression been like?
COACH FLOOD: He's from Minnesota, was a walk-on and was somebody that got into contact with us. He had had some injury issues in high school.
I believe it was Norries Wilson who brought his name to the table as somebody who could be a potential walk-on. And we watched his film; we thought he was somebody who could contribute.
And I would tell you to this point in his career, he's probably exceeded our expectations in terms of how much he's contributed and the plays he's made on game day. He's become a really valuable guy on defense in our sub packages and on special teams. You really can't have enough guys like Andre Hunt in your program. We're really pleased we have him.