Thursday notes: Emotion, Sanu, Williams, Etc.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- After a highly emotional week as Rutgers deals with the devastating neck injury to defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, the Scarlet Knights must get ready to play Saturday at Pittsburgh. After Thursday's practice, coach Greg Schiano spoke about the emotional state of the team, talked about Mohamed Sanu's injury and also updated a few other personnel issues relating to Rutgers.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – During an emotional week surrounding Rutgers' football program, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said the team's focus remained intact and its mission clear heading to Pittsburgh for Saturday's Big East clash.

Schiano talked after Thursday's practice, and acknowledged a difference in practice this week, and how different it will be taking the field a week after defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down making a play against Army.

"I'm sure it's going to be very emotional in the beginning but that burns up very quickly, and then you have a whole football game to play," Schiano said. "So, what I've tried to communicate to the team is there's nothing wrong with that. I'm sure I'm going to feel emotional, but we have a job to do and that job hasn't changed one bit. So you have to stay in the moment."

Practice didn't have the same decibel level as most weeks, but Schiano said it didn't mean the concentration level or work rate wasn't just as good as normal.

"I think it's been a pretty good, actually," Schiano said of the week of practice. "Maybe just a little more quiet, maybe not quite as silly when it's stretching and all that stuff. Although I told them, Eric doesn't want us and I don't want you to have a mope on. That isn't him, and that isn't us.

"It is human nature and I think it has been a little more quiet, but as far as focus and practicing, I think they've worked very hard. They're laughing and they're enjoying each other, but probably not at the level that it's been some other weeks."

Sanu likely available

Rutgers leading receiver and rusher Mohamed Sanu, who is slowed by an ankle injury, could be available against the Panthers after he was able to do some work in practice.

"He did a little more," Schiano said. "I'm hoping he can do something. He won't be 100 percent, but I'm hopeful he can do some stuff."

He is officially listed as questionable on the injury report.

Rocket to blast off?

With the Scarlet Knights looking for any production from their running game, Schiano said sophomore De'Antwan Williams could get some carries.

"I think De'Antwan is in that mix," Schiano said. "He's taking reps in practice, so whenever you're taking those reps, you have the potential to get in the game. I wouldn't be shocked if he played some Saturday."

Glaud ready

Sophomore Ka'Lial Glaud played backup middle linebacker and backup weakside linebacker, but with the knee injury to Manny Abreu, Glaud will start against Pittsburgh at strong side linebacker. It means Glaud lines up over the tight end in most defensive sets.

"His plate sure got full quickly, but I think he can handle it," Schiano said. "He's a very good athlete and he's a tough guy and he's a smart guy. Trust me, there will be growing pains his first start, but he's a guy that can handle it. He'll make mistakes, but who won't?"

Young's role to remain limited

Running back Kordell Young caught a 3-yard touchdown pass against Army and has played a key role as Rutgers' third-down running back, but an assortment of knee injuries will keep his role limited.

"We have a very valuable guy right there in third-down. It's very tempting (to play him more) but when you do that, then you lose him totally, I believe," Schiano said. "We're going to keep (with) the plan."

OL issues

Rutgers tackle Devon Watkis had difficulties with false starts against Army, and Schiano said he addressed it with the sophomore.

"I think it is a little bit of an edginess with a great pass rusher in (Josh McNary) out there," Schiano said. "It can't happen. There's no excuse for it, and he's got another great pass rusher out there in (Jabaal Sheard) this week. We'll see how much we've developed in a week's time."

Schiano said he expected guards Caleb Ruch and Antwan Lowery to play against the Panthers, and didn't rule out converted defensive lineman Andre Civil from playing.

"Civil has gotten more work this week," Schiano said. "I don't know if we'll see him in the game or not."

Thompson's adjustment

Freshman Marcus Thompson began the season at linebacker and moved to defensive end, but the injuries to Jim Dumont, David Milewski and Manny Abreu forced the Scarlet Knights to shift Thompson to linebacker.

In fact, he moved there last week but because of Army's option offense, he wasn't part of the game plan. However, he is in the mix as a backup against the Panthers.

"He's actually had a very focused week of practice," Schiano said. "We actually started working him at this last week, with no idea that what would happen to Manny, would happen. We just started teaching him to see how he would grasp it and we were encouraged. If he gets the in the game, who knows? But he's very talented. Very talented."

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