Thursday Schiano: Blitzes, OL, Dodd, Etc.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers finished up its last practice ahead of Saturday's homecoming contest against Tulane, and afterward coach Greg Schiano sat down with the media to update a number of topics. Schiano talked about the need to handle Tulane's blitz packages, whether he will keep the same starting offensive line, the physical play of his safeties, the student section and much more.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers' inability to consistently pick up the blitz began late last season, and it has carried into the early portion of this season.

Therefore, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano said he is expecting Tulane to remain true to its defensive philosophy Saturday at bring a variety of blitzes.

"There's no doubt it will present a challenge," Schiano said after Thursday's practice. "They come from every angle and they do man blitzes, zone blitzes and zero blitzes, which is no help. We've got to be ready for everything, and I would assume that's what we're going to get.

"Pretty much in the last eight ballgames, we haven't been a great blitz pickup team. I think they're going to bring it. Let's see if we can pick it up."

And the Green Wave don't just blitz in passing situations. They mix in plenty of run blitzes as well, which means communication along Rutgers' offensive line must be very good.

"In pass, it's knowing your assignments," Schiano said. "You don't have a lot of margin for errors, so you better move quickly. In the run game, you have to make them pay, especially zero blitzing, because there's no second level of defense."

Dodd is different
Tom Savage injured his ribs last week against North Carolina, and while the sophomore said Wednesday he expects to play and Schiano said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the quarterback's status, Schiano continues to say he really likes what Chas Dodd brings to the position, particularly if he must be used.

"He's got a football maturity about him that I think comes as a result of growing up in a football family," Schiano said. "His stepfather is a football coach. He grew up around football."

Toeing the line
Schiano isn't ready to say what the starting offensive line will look like, but after talking up tackle Devon Watkis the last few days, it is possible a change could be made.

"We have all these different scenarios," Schiano said. "We can mix it up. I don't know what it will look like, but we'll probably play more than just five."

Physical safeties
A consistent during Schiano's tenure has been the physical play of Rutgers' safeties, and that continues to be the case this year with strong safety Joe Lefeged and free safety Khaseem Greene.

Schiano was asked about the benefit of both players bringing a linebacker's mentality to the secondary.

"As long as they do the pass responsibility there's a benefit," Schiano said. "If they play their pass responsibility like linebackers, we're in big trouble. …They hit. They're not afraid to bring the wood, and that's something we talk about a lot, being physical.

"When you have safeties that will come down and tackle, in the run game and the pass game, there's usually not a blocker from them …when there's not a blocker for our safeties, they're going to hit somebody. They've made some big hits over the years, created some takeaways."

Punting prowess
Teddy Dellanganna had a 69-yard punt and dropped another inside North Carolina's 20-yard line last week, and that comes after a strong performance at Florida International.

"I think Teddy, right now, is doing a good job," Schiano said. "We're asking him to do some different things. They had that tremendous punt returner (T.Y. Hilton) down at FU, and we asked him to do some directional punting, and he did a very good job of it. He truly frustrated them.

"Then we asked him to bombs away, and he did that the other day. You win the game, and you go back and say that was a critical play in the game. If you lose, that kind of gets lost in the shuffle."

Student support
Like many others, Schiano notices the support the student section provides at game. More than 10,000 students showed up for North Carolina game, and the south end zone is always jammed.

"I notice it. It's unbelievable, great," Schiano said. "I think it truly is what makes the home …this is nothing against the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s crowd, but that college crowd is loud, and they're crazy.

"That's their guys. Those are their fellow students out there, and they do a tremendous job. It really was very loud, maybe the loudest since '06 the other day. It was really good. My hat's off to them, and we really need them. We're a team that needs every advantage we can get right now."

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