Schiano's Thursday Media Session

PISCATAWAY, N.J.-- With kickoff slight more than 48 hours away, Rutgers finished its final practice in preparation for Saturday's home contest against North Carolina. And after Thursday's practice session, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano broached a number of topics, including his offense, defending UNC's tight end, Rutgers defensive end Alex Silvestro, the return of receiver Quron Pratt and more.

Rutgers concluded its final practice before Saturday's game against North Carolina, and afterward coach Greg Schiano spoke with the media about a number of topics.

Schiano talked about possible new wrinkles in the offense, North Carolina's highly productive tight end, the return of slot receiver Quron Pratt, defensive end Alex Silvestro's improvement and much more.

Offensively, Schiano acknowledged there is more to show than what the Scarlet Knights unveiled in the first two games of the season.

"There's some stuff you haven't seen," he said. "Now, some of the stuff you haven't seen, you might think it's different, but we know it's different …different blocking schemes."

Defending Pianalto
North Carolina's leading receiver is tight end Zack Pianalto, whose 15 catches are twice as many as anyone else.

""He's very athletic, he runs very well, and in the West Coast offense, they throw to the tight end a lot," Schiano said. "I think he's a very good player. You watch him he immediately jumps off the tape as running more like a wideout than a tight end."

While junior Manny Abreu plays strong side linebacker, it doesn't mean he will always be covering Pianalto.

"There will be a lot of different people (on him) and he'll be running into zones with nobody particularly on him, too," Schiano said.

Pratt's return
Red-shirt freshman Quron Pratt returns to the mix after missing two games with a shoulder injury, and that should help the receiving corps.

"He doesn't have a lot of experience, so it's kind of relative to who's out there," Schiano said. "None of them do, other than Mo (Mohamed Sanu). He's a young guy who's got ability, but hasn't really done it in a game. He's another young guy to throw in the mix."

However, Schiano isn't ready to say Pratt is an upgrade from freshman Jeremy Deering.

"I think (Pratt) is suited to be a slot receiver," Schiano said. "He's got a quick twitch, very good short-area quickness, so I think he is suited there. I don't know if I would get into a better or not scenario with those two. They're both good and they'll both play."

Playing Davis
The four-game series with North Carolina ends with next year's matchup in Chapel Hill, and don't expect a renewal. The deal was signed before Butch Davis became the Tar Heels' coach, and Schiano and Davis are close friends.

Schiano was asked if he liked playing someone he is such good friends with in the coaching community.

"I'd prefer not to, just because I'd love to be able to go (and have) our staffs visit each other," he said. "It's nice when you have someone that has similar beliefs.

"Even though our schemes are a little different, just to go watch them practice …I love watching teams practices, and have my coaches watching teams practice, that really know how to do it the right way. You certainly can't do that when you're playing them."

Silvestro's progression
When Rutgers lost to North Carolina two years ago, defensive end Alex Silvestro was a 232-pound defensive tackle.

"It's very different," Schiano said. "He was a sophomore at 232 pounds playing 3-technique. That's scary. I think that served him very well, though, because now that he moved out to five technique, it's not quite as rough out there and he gained the toughness of being down there. And he did it because we were in the pinch.

"I think Alex is really an improved player. I think he's made steady progress each year, and I think he's playing at a high level right now and we need him to.

"What I've said all along from the beginning of the year is you need your seniors to play their best football, and I think in a lot of places they are, but we need them to be playing better football each week as we go down the season.

Pressuring Yates
Rutgers is known for an attacking, blitzing defense, but Schiano said the schemes implemented by Tar Heels offensive coordinator John Shoop will make it tricky to against senior quarterback T.J. Yates.

"They do a lot of things schematically that keep you from really pinning your ears back," Schiano said. "I have a great deal of respect for John Shoop and what he does with their scheme. You've really got to pick your spots.

"Can you get three-man and four-man pressure? You hope so. You look at their line, they're gigantic. It's not easy to get around."

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