Rutgers QB Chris Laviano: 'You Are Not Going To Play Well If You Have Thin Skin'

Sept. 12, 2015

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Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood

COACH FLOOD: As you can imagine, we're disappointed as a program. Put ourselves in a place in the second half where we had opportunities to win the game, and weren't able to get it done.

I want to thank all the people that came to High Point Solutions Stadium today. I thought the crowd was tremendous. I thought they did a great job. I want to thank them for staying through that game. They helped us when we were in the midst of that comeback. Fell a little short.


Q. You lost two touchdowns on penalties and committed 11 penalties; is that simply the game right there?

COACH FLOOD: It's disappointing. It's disappointing. The players who got called for those penalties are experienced guys. Justin Goodwin and Chris Muller, those are the core of our team. So we have to look at them on film and make sure we correct whatever there is to correct after we see them on film.

But I think the turnovers, to me, are an even bigger factor. Now, you get penalties that take away touchdowns and that's a huge, huge impact on the game but the turnovers to me are the first place I look.

Q. Watching the last drive, the breakdown --

COACH FLOOD: I thought they did a good job. They did a nice job of taking what we gave them and completing the ball. And all day really, we didn't do a -- we didn't really have an effective pass rush all day. We weren't really able to get that quarterback off the spot, and that's one of the things you have to do.

You understand when you play a team like this that they are going to move the ball. They are going to have passing yards. That's part of their system. But if you didn't disrupt the quarterback, it's really hard.

Q. What's your initial assessment of Chris Laviano?

COACH FLOOD: He got better as the game went on. I thought there was some shaky points in the first half for sure. Maybe first-game start jitters maybe, I don't know. You'll have to ask him that. You'll have a chance to do that. I thought he got better as the game went on. I'm pleased with the way he played in the second half.

Q. I know you said you didn't want him looking over his shoulder, but were there any thoughts of making a change when things were going a little rough in the first half?


Q. How unsettling does it feel to come out of it with that many questions, veteran mistakes, do you feel like there's an awful lot to address coming out of the game like that?

COACH FLOOD: It's not unsettling. I don't know that I would use the word "unsettling." Every game, whether you win or lose, there's a lot of things that you address on Sundays. It's a more enjoyable experience for everybody when you're 1-0. But when you're not, it stings. It hurts.

We are going to look at this game tape -- there's some great things about this game that you don't feel great about because you didn't win. I thought we did an excellent job of running the ball as the game went on. I thought our punter did a nice job. I thought Kyle Federico did a good job. Janarion's effort was spectacular.

But none of those things feel very good when you're not 1-0.

Q. Following up on Janarion's effort, the two kick returns and obviously he had a couple catches on fourth down, is this him taking the next step, his development into a really elite player?

COACH FLOOD: He's been a factor for us on special teams. He had a great training camp in terms of catching the football and I thought we saw the fruits of that today, five catches, 65 yards, had the one run on the sweep we handed him for 21 yards.

So he had a big impact on this game for sure, and that's what we expect. When we recruited him, that's what we expected.

Q. The time out you had to call before the field goal attempt, what happened there? Was it you had too many men on the field?


Q. Was it the 12th guy tried to run off and you didn't think he would make it off in time? Do you recall specifics?

COACH FLOOD: I don't recall specifically, but we had too many on the field and I did not want to give them an opportunity to get a first down. And then we did it and we at that point put a house block on to see if we could block it.

But yeah, we had some different personnel groupings today on defense to try to match up with this offense, and we didn't do a very good job starting with me first in terms of coaching those when we got to the special teams to make sure we had the right people out there, and it cost us a time-out.

Q. And not a stretch to say those time-outs would have been valuable?

COACH FLOOD: They are always valuable.

Q. On the last play of the game, did you draw any plays up for that return and did you execute the play you drew up? Was there any thought about maybe fair catching to save the 13 seconds that you had on the clock?

COACH FLOOD: No, we had a play that we had practiced. That was the play we ran.

Q. You guys were exceptionally good last year in close games. Obviously this was a close one that went the other way. Is it as simple as turnovers, penalties, mistakes you were not making last year that got made today?

COACH FLOOD: Turnovers is the first place I look for sure. Penalties, when you have scores taken off the board on penalties, it's hard to overcome that.

Q. When was the last time you felt that -- have you ever seen your defense give up over 500 yards of total offense?

COACH FLOOD: Oh, I don't know. I'd have to go back and look at the statistics.

I thought the defense at times during the game did a nice job of keeping the ball in front of them. They had an 11-play drive that we stopped on downs, a seven-play drive we stopped on downs, an eight-play drive we stopped on downs. I thought at times today, we played good defense. But at the end when we needed a stop, we couldn't get it.

Q. How do you fix the penalties?

COACH FLOOD: You get better as a football team. You go back to practice and you continue to focus on it. It's not something we don't focus on.

To me, the penalty issue is the scores coming off the board. When you look at penalties over the time, you're going to see a highly-penalized teams that win a lot of football games, but when those penalties come in critical areas on scoring plays, and explosive plays, those are not four- and five-yard plays. Both of those scoring plays were explosive plays. It really hurts.

Q. You mentioned turnovers a couple times. Chris was responsible for two of them with an interception and fumble. How concerned are you with his turnovers?

COACH FLOOD: I'm concerned with turnovers in general. The guys on the field have to value the ball. The turnover on the pass was a poor decision. The one on the fumble is one he was trying to throw away and the ball slipped out of his hands. So I think we'll be able to get that corrected. The guys on the field need to value the ball and need to protect the football.

Q. What was the injury of Chris when he was running for first down?

COACH FLOOD: We'll put out an injury report on Monday.

Q. What was it like, the emotion of that, you took the lead with a minute and 40 seconds to go and obviously everybody is really excited, but they had a job to do at the same time. What was it like down there?

COACH FLOOD: It was an emotional game. Both those teams really, really battled. I certainly should give a lot of credit to Mike Leach and his football team and the way they fought, and I'm proud of the way our team fought. Not proud of how we did it all the time but I'm really proud of how hard they fought in that game. I thought both teams really competed and it created a really exciting second half.

There's always going to be emotional swings in a close football game and you have to be able to refocus and do your job. It's one of the things as we coach players through their careers that we try to emphasize.

Q. Last week you used the word "galvanize" which obviously meant a lot to you. Is there any chance of getting through that first one when you guys were under a lot of questions from the outside, maybe a letdown after that, do you think? Did it have any kind of a carryover?

COACH FLOOD: I didn't feel that way. No, I didn't feel that way. I didn't feel like we played particularly good football on offense the first half. After that first drive on defense, I thought we settled down and did a pretty good job in the first half.

But I think a galvanized football team is able to perform -- compete in the second half the way we did. Now as we go forward, we have a lot of football left to play this year. We have to do it better. We have to do it with more precision. We have to do it with more details. We have to protect the football better. Those are the things we'll be working on this week.

Q. Have you had any contact with President Barchi or the Board of Governors after the meeting on Friday?

COACH FLOOD: I have not.

Rutgers sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano

On thoughts following the loss …

"We played a great team. They had a really good defense. We just didn't score more points than they did."

On his personal performance in the game …

"I can't make as many turnovers as I did and win the game so I've got to get those corrected and move onto the next week. This game is over so I just have to focus on the next week."

Rutgers junior wide receiver Janarion Grant

On setting the Rutgers record for all-purpose yards in a game …

"It feels great that I achieved something. That's what I've been wanting to do since I came here. Everybody's been talking about it, but it finally happened."

On whether he was surprised that Washington State kept kicking him the ball …

"Yeah, I was surprised, but that was up to them though. I just had to do what I had to do best."

On feelings after the loss following his record performance …

"It's real heartbreaking. You put your all into it, trying to your best for your teammates and putting your body out on the line and at the end we just didn't come up with the W, but congrats to that team."

Rutgers senior linebacker Kaiwan Lewis

On thoughts as a unit entering Washington State's final drive …

"Just to get a stop. That's the goal. That's the mindset."

On what was lacking defensively …

"Those guys are on scholarship too, so they made plays as well. That's just kind of what happened."

Rutgers junior defensive back Anthony Cioffi

On the final drive of the game …

"They weren't doing anything crazy, nothing different. It came down to us executing our assignments and alignments. It's just the little things, the focus plays."

On if missed tackles played a factor in the game …

"I just think we needed to do our fundamentals a little better - pressing the hip, tackling, and wrapping up. I didn't think [missed tackling] played much in the game, but we just have to do the little things correct."

Washington State head coach Mike Leach

On today's game resembling practice: "Certainly the effort and playing together and sticking with is. As far as being persistent and playing hard, we're doing a lot of good things. There is situational stuff that we have holes we have to plug. It's a big win and we had huge contributions on all three sides. There is stuff we have to fix on all three sides. I did think it was a really good team win. In particular, sticking in there until the game was over."

On giving up the Rutgers return: "I pulled up to the offense and said 'this is pretty exciting isn't it? This is real exciting. Do you see how excited they are?' I said, 'Do you want this thing to be twice as exciting? March down there and score. It'll be twice as exciting." And it was."

On QB Luke Falk's play: "Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only guy that gets under his skin. He stuck in there. He had some great plays and tough plays. He did a good job of taking care of the football. He left some meat on the bones at times, but that' s one thing he's really good at, being calm under pressure, leading the unit and keeping his eye on things when it's tough. He's one of the calmer guys I've dealt with."

On going away from the run in the third quarter and bringing it back in the fourth quarter: "I don't know. I was thinking more about what they were doing and how to attack it. I don't have some magic number on the number on the runs. One of these days I'm not going to run it one time and then the next game I'm going to virtually run it every time and I'm going to get everyone out of balance. I thought we ran it the perfect number of times."

On coming off last week's loss: "Everyone says there's must win games. They are all must win games. This was a must win game. Last week was a must win game. We won this one, so we just try to win one game a week. "

On freshmen Tavares Martin, Logan Tago , Darrien Molton benefitting from the win: "I don't think there's any question. I think it will help them a lot. I think they are incrementally contributing more each game, each time they are out there, each opportunity."

On feeling whoever had the ball last would win the game: "Yeah, in the fourth quarter I sort of felt like that. Both sides were hitting aces on that kind of thing. It did get that feel."

On opting to play fourth down late in the third quarter and beginning of fourth quarter: "I thought we'd make it. We should have made it. We saw something which I thought we definitely had, we just didn't put it in play. We had a dropped ball and also not a great pass, which might have scored. Biggest thing with us is we just have to put it in play."

On rallying the team after going out-of-bounds before scoring: "Once they challenged it, we knew it could go either way. We knew we had to be ready to play the next play."

On how K Erik Powell is coming along: "Tremendously. Powell has done an outstanding job. He wasn't a starter last year and he's really done an outstanding job. He's improved more than any kicker in that period of time I've coached."

On feeling comfortable with a 13-point lead: "I never feel like that. Keep playing until the clock is 0:00. Part of it is I'm thinking of the next play."

On the defense: "I thought they played really well. They did a good job of getting turnovers. I thought they did a good job running to the ball. They gave up some plays at times. They had us reeling at times, but I don't think we let it discourage us. If we did, it was a play, but not very long. I really thought they played well together. This was a big win for all phases of our game. All phases need a lot of improvement, more improvement than perhaps some of the memories allow for the excitement of the game. We need plenty of improvement."

Washington State junior wide receiver Gabe Marks

On emotions after an intense game: "A game like that will either take you all the way to the top or bring you all the way to the bottom in a heartbeat. You just have to learn to keep your emotions in check. You just have to focus on the next play and learn to not get caught up."

On times where you let it out after big plays: 'This team really enjoys making plays for each other. If I make a good block that springs the running back or something like that, guys are usually more excited about the block then the run after it."

Emotions after the touchdown got called back: "No one flinched and that was big for me because I've been on a couple of teams and this team didn't flinch."

Message in the huddle after knowing you had to go 90 yards on the last drive: "No message. Luke (Falk) just called the play and we really didn't think about it. It was like we were in practice or at camp."

The difference between this week and last week: "We don't need to talk about last week. We just won the game right now."

Does this feel more like the team you see in practice everyday: "This is the team that I know we can be. I'm really proud of all the guys and how we fought through adversity."

Washington State sophomore linebacker Peyton Pelluer

What things can be cleaned up from this game: "There's always something you can learn from every game. Focus on what we can control and that's being in our gaps, myself included. Doing our job every single play and being focused on doing the little things, which is trying to have the best technique we can possibly have."

On the emotional back and forth game: "It felt like a rollercoaster the whole game. Credit to Rutgers, they are a great team, but it came down to us focusing on ourselves, the defense. If we go out every play like we have been doing in practice then we can stop them."

On capitalizing early: "It came down to guys really wanting it and doing their job. I know there have been times on defense where I would have wanted it back and could have done better. But you just have to look on the next play and learn from it."

On every defensive players wearing play sheets: "We've been doing that since Grinch (Alex Grinch-Defensive Coordinator) has got here last spring. They call the plays from the sideline and we have them on our wrists."

Washington State sophomore quarterback Luke Falk

On it becoming easier when the defense makes plays: "Yeah, I thought that all day was a team effort on both sides of the ball. Playing to the end and getting three turnovers, you really have to win the game. They played their butts off for us"

On going to River Cracraft on the last drive: "On the first play we got pretty lucky. The game could have went a different way but he found a way to make a play. His number was called and did a nice job. Everyone on the drive did a nice job, I had a lot of time."

On having to go back on the field after Rutgers: "Coach told us that we might have to go back on the field and you have to compartmentalize and do your job. I thought we did a nice job just playing the next play. Doing what we did at Wednesdays practice and executing."

What did you think when you were 90 yards away after they had just scored: "I was kind of just thinking about the drive that John Elway had against the Cleveland Browns and a few Tom Brady comeback drives. That's why you play the game and I was excited to move the ball pretty good all day. I thought our offense did a nice job. Cards worked out in our favor."

On not sliding in the scramble into the end zone: "You know I think on the last drive you can't slide. You have to show your team that you're trying to win the game."

Washington State junior wide receiver River Cracraft

On QB Luke Falk's calm demeanor: "Luke from this week to last week has stepped up tremendously and threw out some Tom Brady quote and calmed everyone down and put a smile on our faces."

On QB Luke Falk in practice: "Very confident and fast throwing the ball well. Exactly what we needed today."

On Falk running for 15 yards: "We get nervous but he's a big guy that can hold is own. He ran the ball great today by breaking tackles and he sells out for the team just like any of us would for him, so its great to see."

Source :

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