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News, insights and analysis on the Rutgers football program

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Notes and quotes

Few things before I get outta here:

Maryalnd finished with 239 rushing yards on 59 attempts. The Knights' inability to stop the run was what did them in from the start.

Mike Teel had a hell of a game for a losing quarterback. He completed a career-high 25 passes despite Shamar Graves dropping two balls that were thrown right to his hands. But he'll be haunted by the three straight incompletions he threw in the fourth quarter, when a long scoring drive could have tied it or won it.

Tiquan Underwood became the first player in school history with four straight 100-yard receiving games.

And some quotes that I couldn't fit in the paper:

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen on the win and the unfortunate turn of events that preceded it: "It was a tremendous in and a tremendous display of character by our players. We had many hardships and a tough loss last week and last night Jamie Thomas' dad was giving the devotion and he had a seizure and was hospitalized during our meetings. We were so concerend about his well-being and to come out today and get the lead and have our starting QB go down. It was a lot of ways these guys could have chucked it."

Greg Schiano on Maryland's physical play: "It led to our inablity to stop the run, and I think that was the difference in the game. Give credit to Maryland, they played very, very well."

On preparing for Cincinnati: "“We’re going against a whole different operation in a week. We’ll have to correct our deficiencies against this style of play and get ready for another style of play.”

On what went wrong: “Our inability to stop the run, really I think was the difference in the game. The credit goes to Maryland. They played very well. I thought they had a good plan and they executed the plan very well. It was a combination of we didn’t play as well as we can, not even close to that, and I thought they played well.”

Knights lose 34-24

Forget about a national title.

Rutgers has to turn things around quickly for next week's game against Cincinnati after suffering a crushing 34-24 loss to Maryland.

Maryland's fans are chering almost loud enough to drown out the Rutgers marching band, and the Knights are 0-1 against teams from BCS conferences, with the potential to be 0-2 after next week if they don't do a better job stopping the run and making big plays when they need to on offense.

I'll have quotes in a little while.

20-17 Terps after three

It looked like the NL East race was over when the Phillies passed the Mets in the standings.

And it looked like this game was over when Rutgers took a 17-14 lead with six second left in the first half.

But judging by the way things look right now, both of those first impressions were dead wrong.

The Rutgers offense stalled in the third quarter and Maryland took a 20-17 lead on a 37-yard Obi Egekeze field goal, making this one heck of a fourth quarter that we're about to watch.

West Virginia and Oklohoma have already lost this week. The Knights hope they won't be joining them among top-10 teams bitten by the upset bug.

I'll check in after the game.

Half time stats

Few notes, then I'm gonna grab a hot dog:

After tailing in total offense in the first quarter, the Knights have now out-gained the Terps 279-207 in total offense.

Ray Rice has 71 yards on 11 carries for a 6.4 yard-per-carry average. With Kordell Young sidelined for the first game (he's out for the season with a knee injury), Rice is the only Rutgers player who's carried the ball, while five Maryland players have at least one carry and four have at least three.

Mike Teel shook off a slow start and finished the half with 208 passing yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-22 passing. He moved into fifth place on the all-time school passing list in the second quarter.

Keon Lattimore has 87 rushing yards on 20 carries, and the Terrapins have 137 rushing yards on 32 carries overall.

Another important event from the first half: Maryland QB Jordan Steffy had to come out of the game late in the second quarter with some kind of injury. He wasn't in for the Terps' last drive of the half, and we'll see if he comes back in the third quarter.

More after the third quarter.

17-14 Knights at the half

What a differene two minutes makes.

Rutgers Stadium had all the excitement and jubilation of a funeral home when Maryland took a 14-3 lead mid-way through the second quarter, and it could have been worse.

Obi Egekeze missed a 38-yard field goal that would have put Maryland up by two touchdowns, and after the missed opportunity, the Knights' offense finally woke up.

Mike Teel hit Tim Brown and Tiquan Underwood with TD passes in the last two minutes of the half to put the Knights on top 17-14, bring the crowd back to life and, at least temporarily, quiet talk of an upset.

We'll see if we can get you some stats before the second half starts.

3-0 Knights after one

Interesting first quarter.

Rutgers missed an opportunity to score a touchdown on its first drive, and settled for a 29-yard field goal by Jeremy Ito.

The Knights are having a lot of trouble stopping the run. They allowed Maryland tailback Keon Lattimore to run all over them during two drives, but came up with critical stops both times: a sack of QB Jordan Steffy for a seven-yard loss that ended the first drive, and back-to-back stops on third-and-one and fourth-and-one that ended the second drive and fired up the sell-out crowd.

Maryland has the ball at the Rutgers 41 to start the second quarter.

Should be interesting to see how this drive concludes and what the Knights do when they get the ball back.

More at the half.

Game Time

It feels like there's a lot more excitement in the stadium than there has been in either of the first three games. I still think this is nothing compared to what we'll see next week against Cincinnati, or later down the road when South Florida and West Virginia come to town.

Of course, one loss by the Scarlet Knights would change things quite a bit, so we'll see what happens.

There's also a small but vocal group of Maryland fans who, like everyone else in the stadium, are dressed in red. They got into what sounded like a "Let's go Maryland" chant when the Terrapins captains came out of the tunnell.

The Knights won the toss and elected to receive, and we'll be underway in a minute.

I'll check back after the first quarter with an update and some observations.

Greetings from Rutgers Stadium

Finally, this is REALLY what college football is supposed to be like.

It's a Saturday afternoon with sunny skies and for the first time this year, a real opponent for the Scarlet Knights.

It'll take something unexpected to make this one a real nail-biter, but with Maryland in the house, at the very least, this one will be a heckuva lot closer than the game was the last time we were here, when the Knights blasted Division I-AA Norfolk State 59-0.

The Terps blew a 24-3 lead last week and lost a heartbreaker to Wake Forest in their ACC opener. They're 2-2 on the year, with wins coming against Villanova and Florida International and losses to the Deamon Deacons and West Virginia.

They're one of only five teams in the country that plays two top 10 teams this year, although the Mountaineers are likely to fall out of the top 10 after last night's loss to South Florida.

Maryland is well-coached (Ralph Friedgen is one of only two coaches in ACC history to win 50 games over his first six years) and have the ninth-best pass defense in the country, which poses an interesting challenge for the Knights, who lead the country in pass efficiency.

Another matchup to watch is the Rutgers defensive line -- which for the first time all year, is completely healthy with Pete Tverdov back in the starting lineup -- against the Maryland offensive line.

The Terps have allowed 16 sacks this year, which is 16 more than the Rutgers offensive line has allowed.

Maryland also has a pretty formidable rushing offense, with two good tailbacks: Keon Lattimore (102. 3 yards per game) and Teaneck's Lance Ball, who was recruited by Rutgers and needs just 110 rushing yards to reach 2,000 for his career.

I'll check back in before the game with any last-minute depth chart changes. Until then, enjoy whatever college football or baseball (if you have the stomach to watch the Mets) you've got on the tube.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rutgers Hall of Fame

Some information about the three players that will be inducted into the Rutgers football Hall of Fame later this year, courtesy of the Rutgers sports information staff: (And a quick note about next Saturday's game against Maryland: it will be on ABC at either 3:30 or 8, and we'll know on Sunday which time).

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 17, 2007) – The three newest members of the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame, tight end Marco Battaglia (1992-95), tailback Arthur Gottlieb (1937-39) and right tackle Kenneth MacAlpine Rendall (1914-17) will be inducted during ceremonies at halftime when the Scarlet Knights host Cincinnati on Oct. 6 at Rutgers Stadium.

Battaglia concluded his career as one of the most decorated players in
Rutgers football history. As a senior in 1995, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound tight end from Queens , N.Y. , was a consensus All-America, earning First-Team recognition from a number of organizations, including the Associated Press, and the Football Writers Association of America. Battaglia led the nation’s tight ends with 69 catches for 894 yards and 10 touchdowns in his memorable senior season, and was named the “Offensive Player of the Year” in the BIG EAST Conference. As a junior, Battaglia was the BIG EAST’s leading receiver with 58 catches for 779 yards.

Battaglia appeared in all 44 games in his career (1992-95); making 32 starts, and hauled in 171 passes for 2,221 yards and 16 touchdowns. Battaglia went on to play eight-years in the NFL, and was a member of the 2004 Carolina Panthers’ Super Bowl team. He was an All- New York City and All-State player at St. Francis Prep, and played on three consecutive New York City Catholic League championship teams. Battaglia currently resides in Queens with his wife Maria and children Ava and Marco, and remains a fixture on the sideline at all
Rutgers home games

Regarded as a triple threat performer during his Rutgers career (1937-39), Gottlieb will long be remembered for the role he played in the Nov. 5, 1938, victory over Princeton, which dedicated Rutgers Stadium. It was Gottlieb’s memorable 13-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to “Moon” Mullen that propelled
Rutgers to a come-from-behind 20-18 victory over its in-state rival before a sold-out crowd. Gottlieb was known as one of the top passers of his era, and was also an accomplished runner and kicker. In the day of the “two-way” player, Gottlieb played nearly 60 minutes every game, as a tailback and defensive back. In his three seasons on the varsity, Gottlieb led Rutgers to a combined 19-6-1 mark (including 14-2-1 in 1938-39) and earned All-East and All-Middle Three honors. Gottlieb, who also played baseball while at Rutgers, went on to play for two seasons with the Buffalo Indians of the American Football League, before settling in as a coach and teacher at New Brunswick High School .

Rendall , a two-time captain, was a stalwart at right tackle for the Rutgers football team during his career (1914-17). He was known as a rugged performer who was nicknamed “Thug” for his physical style of play. Rendall’s teams compiled a 22-7-4 record during his career, including an outstanding 7-1 season as a senior when he played alongside All-America end Paul Robeson.

Rendall’s 1915 team proved to be an offensive powerhouse, scoring 351 points, the most of any Eastern team, and posted a 7-1 record. Two years later, the Rutgers eleven capped off Rendall’s outstanding senior campaign with a season ending 14-0 win over highly regarded Newport Naval Reserve, which featured some of college football’s top players during this war-era contest. Rendall was selected to the
Boston Herald’s All-East squad following his senior year, and also earned all-star recognition from other leading newspapers of the time, including the New York Tribune and the New York Sun .

Young out for the season

Just got some news from Greg Schiano on the weekly Big East coaches' teleconference: Kordell Young, who suffered a knee injury Saturday against Norfolk State, will need surgery and miss the rest of the season.

Schiano was hopeful during a conference call with reporters yesterday that Young wouldn't need surgery, and even indicated there was a chance he could play against Maryland in two weeks, when the Knights are back on the field after a bye week.

But after Young was further examined by doctors, that hope vanished, leaving the Knights with a hole in the backfield when Heisman hopeful Ray Rice is out of the game.

Rice, who led the nation last year with 335 carries, is one of the most durable backs in the country, if not the most durable. But Young was seen as a valuable piece of the offense who, with more speed than Rice, could provide a change of pace in the backfield.

The sophomore from West Deptford played in all three of the Knights' games, rushing for 58 yards on 18 carries. Last year, he rushed for 138 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns as a true freshman.

"We had a further test done and it looks like he's going to need surgery on that knee, so it looks like he'll be done for the year," Schiano said.

Young's absence will likely provide an opportunity from true freshman Mason Robinson, who saw his first action of the season against Norfolk State, and also could mean more carries for sophomore fullback Jack Corcoran.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Postgame notes and quotes

There's a lot of notable information and quotes about this game, a lot of which will be in tomorrow's paper.

Here are some highlights:

Rutgers had 537 yards of total offense, the third most in the Greg Schiano era.

The Knights topped 50 points for the second time under Schiano. Both times, they did it against teams from the MEAC -- the other was a 56-7 win last year over Howard.

Mike Teel completed one of his first seven passes and seven of his next eight to finish 8-for-15.

Jabu Lovelace out-gained Ray Rice 78-72 in rushing yards on four fewer carries.

Norfolk State finished with 10 rushing yards. At half time, the Spartans had -18.

Now for a couple of quotes I couldn't fit in the paper...

NSU coach Pete Adrian on the game: "We knew going in that we would have a difficult time with (Underwood) and (Britt). That those were the two guys that really scared us. They just have outstanding speed and they are big-time receivers. I think with Teel really growing as a quarterback that is probably the biggest improvement I saw in the Rutgers team from film. We absolutely have no one on our football team that can cover either one of those guys. The kids were trying hard and they were too big and too fast. That broke the game wide open."

Mike Teel: "We were not executing in the first quarter and we just weren't doing what we need to do. But once the second quarter came, we began to execute and it showed how explosive our offense can be. We prepare so much for our games and expect to do well if we take advantage of the opportunities we have. ... We still have a long way to go. It's nice to be 3-0, but we still want to continue to improve and keep on working. If we just continue to work hard and work on the little things, that will be good. This team is confident, but we know we still have a lot of work left to do."

Tiquan Underwood on the bye week: "During our bye week, we'll work on improving, to get ready for our next challenge against Maryland. Maryland is a tough team and we need to come out strong. We'll prepare just as we do for every game and give 100 percent."

Schiano on the timing of the bye week: "I think it probably comes at a good time. It's a chance to get some guys mended up. It was good to get a lot of those young guys in for some substantial playing time. We got every guy on our depth chart that we planned into the game."

That's it for me. Enjoy the rest of your football weekend and I'll check in on Monday for some thoughts on the Big East coaches teleconference.

Knights win 59-0

I've got to pat myself on the back just a little for coming within a point of predicting the exact final score in today's paper.

Almost all the damage took place in the second quarter, but for what it's worth, the Knights' second string units looked pretty good in the second half, during which Jabu Lovelace scored his first two career touchdowns, Mason Robinson got his first collegiate carries, and as noted, Ryan D'Imperio and Zaire Kitchen made their season debuts.

I'll be back with post-game reactions in a little while. i

Something significant

It's not often anything even remotely close to important happens in the fourth quarter of a 59-0 slaughter, but two players just made their season debut after sitting out the first two games with injuries.

Of the greatest importance to the team is that Ryan D'Imperio is in at middle linebacker. He essentially won the starting job in spring practice before breaking his leg in three places. Originally, he was slated to miss at least the first four games and maybe more, but he kept on progressing ahead of schedule, and here he is.

The other substitution is noteworthy for the team, but also for the greater Trenton area.

Zaire Kitchen, a defensive back from Hightstown, is in for the first time all year after breaking his leg last year. Kitchen's absence was a major reason why Greg Schiano had been concerned about the Knights' depth in the secondary, so having him back on the field is a major plus for the Knights' defense.

I was wrong

The prediction I made in today's paper is officially wrong. I had the Knights winning 58-0, and on Jabu Lovelace's second touchdown run of the game (both came from 16 yards out), the lead is now 59-0 with 11;11 left in the game.

This game is already approaching three and a half hours long, and we still have a ways to go. There can't be more than 8,000 people left in the stadium.

I thin it's safe to say the Knights will be 3-0 at the end of the day.

They found it

Good job by the Rutgers SID staff doing research about the Knights' second quarter.

The 42 points were the most points scored in a quarter in Rutgers and Big East history.

The 45 points in the first half also set a school record, and ranks sixth in Big East history.

And for the record, the Scarlet Knights -- who now have nothing but second stringers on the field -- still have a 52-0 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Garbage time

Fans are heading for the exits by the thousands, and the Scarlet Knights look like they're going to keep piling up points, although not as quickly as they did in the first half.

Jabu Lovelace, who replaced Mike Teel for the first series of the second half, just led a nine-play, 80-yard drive culminating in Lovelace's first career rushing touchdown, on a 16-yard quarterback keeper.

It's 52-0 Knights with 4:13 left in the third quarter.

45-0 at the half

The first two quarters couldn't have been more different: 3-0 after one, 45-0 after two.

The Rutgers sports information staff wasn't even positive if the 42 points in the second quarter was a school record, but they're working on looking it up.

We've got about seven minutes to go before second half kickoff, and we probably won't see much of the Rutgers starters after the first serires or two of the third quarter.

A few half time stats to chew on:

Rutgers out-gained Norfolk State 349-54 in total offense.

Mike Teel shook off a slow start to throw for 269 yards and three touchdowns.

Rutgers held Norfolk State -- which had more than 100 rushing yards last week against Virginia State -- to -18 rushing yards on 25 attempts.

The Scarlet Knights have out-scored their oppoennts 97-7 in the first half this season.

More later on in the half.

Piling up the numbers

As the game gets more and more out of hand -- and with 4:47 left in the first half, Rutgers leads 38-0 -- here are a couple of factoids:

Ray Rice has three rushing touchdowns today and now has 33 in his career, tying him with Boston College's William Green for seventh all-time in the Big East.

Notre Dame High School's Tiquan Underwood already has 148 receiving yards and a touchdown. He came in second in the country in receiving yards per game, and could keep keep that position if he gets a few more catches.

Scoring quickly

The Scarlet Knights have needed a combined 26 seconds to score two touchdowns after they needed just two plays and 21 seconds to go 92 yards and score a touchdown on Ray Rice's 22-yard touchdown run. They got some help from a five-yard penalty on Norfolk State for an illegal substitution, but both Rice and Tiquan Underwood -- who ran about 30 yards after the catch for a 65-yard gain to start the drive -- made plays that will be shown on a lot of highlight reels tonight.

The Knights lead 24-0 with 7:44 left in the first half.

17-0 Knights in the second

After an extemely ugly first quarter during which Rutgers managed only a 30-yard Jeremy Ito field goal, the Scarlet Knights scored two touchdowns in the first 1:18 of the second quarter on just two plays.

Mike Teel hit Kenny Britt with a 43-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the quarter, then hit Tiquan Underwood with a 28-yard strike after NSU unsuccesfully attempted a fake punt on fourth down.

Time of the Knights' second drive: five seconds.

This is finally starting to look how it should look.

Slow start

It's early. Way too early to even think about talking about Rutgers not playing that well.

But for the record, the Scarlet Knights have punted twice as many times in the first 4:32 today than they did in their first two games combined (2 to 1 if you're scoring at home.)

The Knights have just one first down in two posessions, on a 25-yard pass from Mike Teel to Kenny Britt. Teel is 1-for-4 passing so far, having overthrown Underwood on one pass and had two more broken up by NSU defensive backs.

Game Time

Seventy degrees a couple minutes before kickoff with a 16 mph wind and 35 percent humidity.

It's homecoming day at Rutgers and most of the 42,000 seats are full, with some stragglers still making their way in.

The one change to the official depth chart among starters for Rutgers is Vantrise Studivant over Pete Tverdov at tacke. But Tverdov, who injured his ankle in the last week of training camp, has been listed as the starter for all three games but hasn't started any of them. It's the second start of the year for Studivant, who also started against Buffalo.

It's been an interesting day so far for the Big East, with UConn pulling out a win over Temple in a game that they were favored to win by almost 30 points but probably should have lost, and Pitt coming up just short against Michigan State on the road.

Syracuse, as expected got pummelled by Illinois.

With that, we're just a few minutes from kickoff. If this information somehow didn't get to you, the game is televised on MSG, but as usual, I'll have in-game observations as we go along.

Enjoy the game.

Paint the town red

The Knights have taken the field for warmups, and they're in their all-red uniforms, instead of the white pants they wore in the first two games. Norfolk State's unis are either interesting or ugly, depending on your point of view. They're sort of a reverse Green Bay Packers look, with yellow jerseys and green pants.

NSU also has a pretty large marching band here, which is settling into the bleachers next to the Rutgers students.

In case you're wondering, I would expect the RU students to be on better behavior when interacting with the band than they were last week at the Navy game.

Good afternoon from Rutgers Stadium

This is what college football is supposed to feel like: warm (not hot) and sunny, with plenty of daylight left for today's game between the 13th ranked Scarlet Knights and Norfolk State.

Of course, that doesn't mean that what we're going to watch at 3:30 is going to look like what college football is supposed to look like. My prediction in today's paper is a 58-0 Rutgers win. The Scarlet Knights' status as a big-time program is pretty well documented, and the Spartans, who beat archrival Virginia State 33-7 in their opener last week, are a Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) team that has never played a Bowl Subdivision team and hasn't had a winning season in 10 years of I-AA play.

This is one of those games that gives the little guy a big pay day and the big guy a nice little tune-up for conference play and an all-but guarenteed win.

And I don't want to hear about Appalachian State. In fact, neither did Norfolk State coach Pete Adrian during his conference call with reporters on Monday. He poined out that Appalachian State has won the last two Championship Subdivision national championships, while the Spartans have been consistently in the lower half of the Subdivision.

One other point of reference for what to expect is that Rutgers played Howard -- who, like NSU, plays in the MEAC -- last year, and won 56-7.

We're a little less than two hours away from kickoff, and I'll check in right before the game with some last-minute pregame observations and possible interesting changes to the starting lineup.

Enjoy all the college football on TV and if you're a reader from New England, say a prayer for Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, who have a big game against the Yankees at 3:55.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ramel Meekins

Here's the Rutgers press release about former Scarlet Knight Ramel Meekins, who latched on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL:

Mississauga , Ontario (September 13, 2007) – Former Rutgers standout Ramel Meekins (Westwood, N.J.) signed a practice squad contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Meekins, who was one of the final cuts from the Indianapolis Colts training camp, will join former RU quarterback Mike McMahon ( Montreal ) in the CFL.

Meekins finished his college career with 142 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks and four fumble recoveries. He was named team Defensive MVP as a senior in 2006 and was twice named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week. Meekins played three of four preseason games with the defending Super Bowl champion Colts this summer.

Today's paper has a feature on Mike Teel and his attitude toward improving as the season goes on. Tomorrow's paper has the weekly Game Day page previewing the Knights' game against Norfolk State.

And of course, tomorrow's blog will have live updates from Rutgers Stadium.

Enjoy tonight's Red Sox-Yankees showdown if you're able to watch it, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A rainy and sweaty day

The weather was gloomy, with dark skies and rain falling for most of the day.

For the Rutgers football team, the gassers were probably worse than the weather.

Kenny Britt said he counted 13, but it seemed like a lot more at the end of the first day of on-field preparation for Saturday's game against Norfolk State.

Greg Schiano hadn't been thrilled with the way some player performed in practice, so the gassers piled up at the end of the day.

"We were a little bit sluggish," Britt said. "I think it was because it was a muggy day and everything. School started and everything, and its muggy, you can feel it out here."

"It has to do with some situations that are internal that we handled," was all Schiano said about the extra running.

A few other notable quotes from Schiano, who touched on a couple of interesting topics:

On reports that Rutgers fans were heard taunting Navy players during last Friday's game: "Like any situation..I didn't hear it, I've got two headsets on and I'm trying to coach a game but certainly there are reputable people who are saying it took place so it's always, in any of those situations, its a couple of people who cross the line and they make a bad name for everyone. We have the best fans in college football, I believe that. Just a couple of people probably crossed the line and it shouldn't have happened. And certainly when you're dealing with. It shouldn't happen with anybody. It shouldn't happen with any opponent, but then you throw on top of it the people who are going to defend our country. It's just, it's not something that should happen. But the thing I'm sorry about is, No. 1 that any opponent has to hear that stuff if it's true, which I suppose it is, No. 2, that all our fans now get a smear on them because a couple of people said the wrong things."

On fans booing college players in general: I don't like it. I've coached in the NFL and they're getting paid a lot of money, and you know what? People pay a lot of money to go to those games and they're getting paid a lot of money. That's their business. But college kids, the next person that tells me, 'Well, they have a scholarship,', take the hourly wage of that scholarship for what these kids do, and it might be a penny an hour, so there's no right to boo college kids. You want to boo me? They pay me a lot of money, they can boo me all they want, but don't boo the kids."

On the possibility that Ryan D'Imperio could play Saturday against Navy: "I'd rather be a week or two late than a day early, but he keeps telling me he's all right so we'll see."

On remembering September 11, 2001, which was six years ago to the day: "I remember the day vividly. I don't remember the first game (after the attacks). It was today, it was a Tuesday. This has been the first Tuesday since. We were sitting in the game plan room this morning. I can remember standing at the board when one of the assistants stuck their head in, when I first heard about it....We actually went out and practiced that afternoon. We got all the kids here, we circled them up and we had two kids that didnt know at the time if their family members were there or not. Thank God they weren't. We got in a team meeting and we said, 'we're not going to play on Saturday' and 'what do you want to do?' and they said, "Let's just go out and practice, stay busy,' so we went out and practiced."

I'm back to the living room to catch some Baseball Tonight. I've got desk duty tomorrow and Friday, and the day off Thursday, so this will be my last report from practice before the Knights take on Norfolk State. But there's plenty of college football stuff in today's paper, and there will be plenty more every day between now and Game Day.

The Rutgers blog is back in action Saturday with the usual pre-game posts and in-game updates. Looking forward to talking to you then.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Here's part of a Rutgers press release about the telecast of Saturday's game:

PISCATAWAY , N.J. (September 10, 2007) – Saturday’s Rutgers-Norfolk
State football game will be part of the ESPN GamePlan pay-per-view package for fans nationwide. MSG will televise the game locally along with Cox Cable in New Orleans , Charter Cable in St. Louis and Time Warner-Wisconsin. The game will be available via pay-per-view on cable systems and satellite television nationally.

Notes and quotes

A few notes to chew on before your attention drifts over to pro football for the rest of the night.

Hard to beat a Monday Night doubleheader, eh?

Greg Schiano addressed the media today at Rutgers Stadium, as did several Rutgers players. The Big East coaches teleconference was also today, so there was a lot to talk about with a lot of different people.

Here are a few of the highlights that I couldn't fit in the paper.

1. Mike Teel said he watched almost every snap of South Florida's win over Auburn on Saturday night and was extremely impressed. "South Florda's a good football team," he said. "They're fast, they run around, they make plays. The defense is fast. It's a great win for the Big East and a great win for their program." He said he flipped back and forth between the Louisvile-Middle Tennessee State game and the Cincinnati-Oregon State game while relaxing in his hotel room a night before the Knights hosted Navy. The Bearcats dismantled Oregon State, forcing seven turnovers in what was another big win for the Big East. "Cincinnati has done a great job and so has South Florida," he said.

2. Greg Schiano said the Knights defense watched tape of the Buffalo game yesterday instead of the Navy game, since Norfolk State's offense -- like all other offenses -- is nothing like Navy's. "We actually didn't even look at it right after the game because we weren't playing against a traditional offense," Brandon Renkart said. "So there was no point in looking at it until this week."

3. You could talk to every player on the Rutgers roster and not find one player who doesn't same virtually the same exact thing about being the best they can be regardless of whether the opponent is LSU or Norfolk State. (In case you haven't heard, next week, it's the latter, not the former.)

Here's Renkart's take: "We're tying to see how good we can be. That's really what it comes down to. It's really about how good we can be, and how perfect we can be in our schemes."

And Ron Girault's take: "I think everyone’s on the same page already because we know that focus isn’t just that it’s Norfolk State we’re playing or it’s Navy or it’s Buffalo. Our focus is on Rutgers and on how good we can be. We just have to do everything we can, in the weight room on the practice field, and everything, to get ready for this game.”

Wonder where they got that mindset? A clue might be this quote from the head coach:

"I think the team’s concerned about how good we can be. Early in the year, we haven’t played to the level that we expect of ourselves so that’s a challenge, but I don’t think that’s because we’re playing a 1-AA team or we’re playing Navy or whoever we’re playing."

4. Forget being diplomatic about it. Syracuse is flat-out the laughingstalk of the Big East. There's no other way around it. The Big East is 14-2 this year against teams from opposing conferences and 28-2 in its last 30 games. Both losses have come from the Orange, and neither of those games have been close: a 42-12 drubbing to Washington opening week at home, and a 38-0 laugher Saturday at Iowa during which Greg Robinson's pathetic team managed a whopping 103 yards of total offense and got inside the Iowa 25-yard line only twice. Not surprisingly, they missed a field goal both times they had a chance to score.

That's all I've got for today. My money's on the Bengals and 49ers tonight on MNF. Enjoy the action.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Some more quotes and notes

Some stuff I couldn't fit in the paper:

We'll start with a few quotes ...

Mike Teel on Rice breaking the all-time rushing record: "It was coming sooner or later. He deserves everything he's gotten, including the record. He's a tremendous football player, the heart and soul of the offense, and when we needed it the most he was there to make a play. That's what he trains for; he trains for games like this."

Teel on his 53-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt: "I was calling for that play for a whie. I was telling coach their corners were just sitting on the routes. We had an opportunity earlier in the game with im Brown but I left the ball a little inside, and they were flagged for pass interference. On the play to Kenny, Coach made the right call at the right time and we were able to connect."

Courtney Greene on his interception in the end zone in the third quarter: "I just read the play right. A lot of credit goes to the coaches because I knew exactly what Navy was doing offensively. Our defensive mindset is to keep battling, and we just played well tonight."

Greene on penalties being a cause for concern: "I think so. That's two weeks in a row, so we need to keep working on it. We are killing ourselves right now, but it's only week two so we have time to fix it. We just have to keep working to get better."

Rice on breaking the record: "It's a lifetime achievement. I never really cared about individual awards, but this one means a lot because I did it here at Rutgers Stadium. It's something I can share with Rutgers because the whole team helped and all the fans were here to see me do it."

On his mom, who was at the game -- she's at every one -- wearing a Rutgers jersey that read "Ray's Mom" on the back, above his number 27: "My mom is something else. I love her, and I'm just glad she's so supportive of me."

And a few stats of note:

Rutgers had only four more first downs than Navy (24-20)

Navy out-gained the Knights on the ground 254-210.

Tiquan Underwood led the Knights in receiving yards for the second straight game, but it was a lot closer this time. Underwood had 104 yards on six catches, while Kenny Britt came in a close second with 99 yards on three catches, including a 53-yard touchdown reception.

Jeremy Ito was 2-for-2 on field goals after missing 2 out of 3 last week.

Rice had 215 all purpose yards and three touchdowns.

Tim Brown, who played his first game of the season after missing the Buffalo game with a broken hand, didn't catch a pass but had one carry for nine yards and returned two kickoffs for a total of 40 yards.

That's all for tonight. I'm off for the weekend, but I'll check in on Monday and post some thoughts from Greg Schiano's press conference and the Big East coaches' conference call. And of course, tomorrow's Trentonian is packed with Rutgers stuff, including a game story and "replay" box from me, and two stories by Kevin.

Knights win, 41-24

It wasn't easy -- at least not as easy as the relatively lopsided final score indicates -- but the Knights are 2-0.

They played extremely well on offense -- both rushing the ball and passing it -- and got a couple of huge stops when they needed to on defense. Put that together, and there's reason to be happy in Piscataway as the Knights head into a cupcake next Saturday against Division 1-AA Norfolk State.

I'll post a few post-game quotes before I head home.

27-14 after three

If anyone thought this was going to be easy, they were wrong.

Navy moved the ball efficiently all quarter, but thanks to a big interception by Courtney Greene, the damage was minimal: one touchdown.

The Knights got a field goal by Jeremy Ito to take a 27-14 lead. It will be very interesting to see how this thing finishes and what the final score ends up being.

The triple option has been tough to handle, but the Knights -- who have three interceptions -- have come up with big stops when they've needed them.

Navy's three interceptions are the most for the team since Nov. 11, 2000 against Notre Dame, when two QBs combined for three. The three INTs by Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada are the most by a single Navy QB since Chris McCoy threw three against Notre Dame on Nov. 1, 1997.

More after the game.

24-7 Knights at the half

Wow. This game could be -- maybe should be? -- a lot closer than this, but Ron Girault came up with a huge interception that changed things quite a bit.

Rutgers has played incredibly undisiplined football, commiting eight penalties that cost them 75 yards and at least four points.

But Mike Teel has been on the money again, and Rice has been his usual self, with a little bit of a twist thrown in. Rice, who became the all-time rushing leader in Rutgers history on his second carry, scored a receiving touchdown for the first time in his career with 34 seconds left.

Navy drove deep into Rutgers territory at the end of the first half and was threatening to make it 17-14 before Girault picked off Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada in the back of the end zone with 3:41 left.

Eight Rutgers plays and 80 yards later, the Knights have a comfortable 24-7 lead. Barring a second-half meltdown, the chances of them escaping and coming out of this one 2-0 look pretty good.

A couple of half time stats to chew on:

The Knights out-gained the Midshipmen 250-123 in total yards despite running four fewer plays and trailing 16:21-13:39 in time of posession.

Rice is well on his way to his 17th 100-yard rushing game. He has 81 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, in addition to 40 yards (including a 22-yard touchdown) on three receptions.

Teel has looked sharp for the second straight week. He's 10-of-14 passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, he's thrown four touchdowns without being intercepted or sacked.

More later.

Game Time

Eighty six degrees with clear skies, a 10 mph southbound win and 55 percent humidity four minutes before kickoff.

Two notes about the Knights starting lineup: With Pete Tverdov out, Garry Watts gets the start at defensive end and Jamaa Westerman moves to defensive tackle. Its a look that allows Greg Schiano to have a lot of speed and athleticism up front.

On offense, Pedro Sosa, who injured his knee last week and was questionable, will start at left tackle. That means that Anthony Davis, who might have gotten the nod at right guard had Sosa sat out, will have to wait at least another week to make his first collegiate start.

He's sure to get plenty of action off the bench tonight.

The Knights won the toss and will receive. And we're ready for some football!!

Remember to e-mail if you know the trivia answer.

Enjoy the first half!

ESPN Radio 1450-AM

Here's the first paragraph of a Rutgers press release sent out today about the expansion of the Rutgers radio network, which I think is a useful piece of information for any Trentonian readers in South Jersey.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (September 6, 2007) – Rutgers football games will be broadcast in South Jersey as ESPN 1450-AM in Atlantic City has joined the Rutgers Football Radio Network, Rutgers Athletics and Nelligan Sports Marketing announced today. ESPN 1450-AM in Atlantic City will broadcast the remaining games of the 2007 season, including Friday night’s game vs. Navy from Rutgers Stadium.


Since this has been a topic of conversation in the press box, I'll throw it out there for readers. I'll give you a shouthout in the blog and possibly some sort of prize if you get the answer and email it to me at before the end of the first half.

There are four schools that have produced a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a President of the United States. The question is: what are the four shools, and who are the presidents and QBs?

Hint: one of the schools is Navy, and I mentioned the QB and the prez in my game day page in today's paper.

Greetings from Rutgers Stadium

Couldn't ask for a much nicer day for college football. It's warm, its sunny, and the tailgaters are outside cooking what smelled like a pretty good assortment of dogs, burgers and brats.

The Scarlet Knights will face a much bigger test than they did last week, when they rolled over Buffalo 38-3. Navy isn't exactly the type of team that'd be capable of competing in the SEC, but the Midshipmen will make the Knights work on defense, if nothing more.

And after Middle Tennessee State walked all over the Louisville defense to the tune of 42 points last night -- not to mention Appalachian State's win over Michigan last week -- anything's possible.

The biggest news-maker that's likely to come out of this game is Ray Rice breaking the all-time school rushing record, which he's almost certain to do in the first quarter and could even do on his first carry. He needs 16 yards to tie it and 17 to break it. The current record holder is Terrell Willis, who had 3,114 from 1993-95.

I'm gonna grab a pre-game bite to eat. I'll check in shortly before game time, then again periodically throughout the game.

If you're somehow unaware of this, the game is on ESPN. And if you're betting -- which, again, you shouldn't be -- the Knights are a 16 1/2 point favorite.