Sunday Schiano: Needed Time Off, Sacks, Etc.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he is giving the players three days off since the Scarlet Knights don't play against until Nov. 3 at South Florida. Schiano talked about the time needed for Rutgers to re-charge, as well as the offensive line woes in Saturday's 20-point loss to Pittsburgh. Schiano aslo gave an update on the Scarlet Knights' injury situation.

After a tragically emotional eight days, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano acknowledged during Sunday's day-after conference call it is a very good time for the Scarlet Knights to get a few days off to re-charge.

Rutgers, which doesn't play until Nov. 3 against South Florida, will take three days off, practice Wednesday and Thursday, be off Friday and then begin game-prep Saturday.

"We're not going to be totally separated from one another, but I think these guys need a little bit of time to catch their breath," Schiano said. "I was really hoping we could take this little break after a victory. …It doesn't change the situation we're in physically and emotionally. It's good for the guys to catch their breath."

Rutgers not only dealt with back-to-back fourth-quarter comeback wins to drain some emotion, but a lot of their mental and emotional energy was focused on defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury Oct. 16.

After Saturday's 41-21 loss to Pittsburgh, game, several players admitted they were physically, mentally and emotionally worn down.

Schiano was asked if the off days are needed for the players to refocus and recharge.

"I think so," he said. "In looking at what's happened, and the circumstances, I think it's a good time for our guys."

Injury update

Schiano said tight ends D.C. Jefferson and Fabian Ruiz sustained ankle injuries against Pittsburgh, but both toughed it out. He added offensive lineman Art Forst and Desmond Wynn also were dealing with injuries, and the time off would serve them well.

Reciever Mohamed Sanu, whose playing time was limited because of a foot injury, was limited to one run for a yard in the Wildcat while Jeremy Deering (5 carries, 25 yards) handled the bulk of the package.

"(Sanu) was not 100 percent, so we tried to do what we felt he could do," Schiano said. "I thought he did a good job of what we asked him to do."

Schiano added he didn't believe strong side linebacker Manny Abreu (knee) would be ready for South Florida.

"You never say never, but in what we were told, that would be too soon," Schiano said.

Protection issues again

Rutgers was sacked seven times, meaning the Scarlet Knights have yielded 15 in the last two games and 33 in seven games.

The Scarlet Knights have tried different combinations along the offensive line, kept tight ends and running backs in to help and also sent five receivers out in patterns to pressure defenses. And nothing is working consistently.

"We're struggling a little bit, obviously," Schiano said. "Some of them, we just got whooped -- I'm talking about the sacks. I thought we ran the ball better than we have all season against that level of competition. Unfortunately, we got behind in the second half and couldn't do it as much as we planned on doing.

"The pass protection is one of the big problems, big issues, that we have to get figured out right now."

At times, it appeared freshman quarterback Chas Dodd held the ball too long, and other times receivers didn't get open.

"We tried to do a few things protection-wise that redistribute you resources," Schiano said. "You have decisions to make on how many guys you're going to put out on a route. The more guys you put out on routes, the more it strains the coverage. The more guys you put out on routes, the more it strains your protection as well."

It will continue to be something Rutgers tinkers with in the play-calling department.

"Finding that balance that our guys can handle, we have to help them," Schiano said. "We have to continue to help them more than we have, and that's our job, and then they need to perform better in the techniques that they're taught. That's their job."

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