Sunday Notes: Play-calling, QBs, OLs and More

Much of the talk after Rutgers' loss to Syracuse centered around the play calling late in the fourth quarter, the quarterbacks and the use of the Wildcat. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano spoke about those issues, and a few other things with the media on Sunday. Check out what he had to say.

A day after Rutgers' disappointing 13-10 loss to Syracuse on a late field goal, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano discussed a few of the key aspects of the game.

No topic is hotter right now than the play-calling at the end of the fourth quarter, when Rutgers had a first-and-10 from the 17-yard and wound up missing a 45-yard field goal attempt.

At issue was a sweep to running back Kordell Young, which resulted in an 8-yard loss on first down, and the decision to throw the ball on a third-and-12, which led to quarterback Tom Savage taking an 8-yard sack.

Offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca calls the plays, and Schiano was asked Sunday if he would like the play calls back.

"In retrospect, yeah, but you don't have that information at the time," he said. "We thought at the time those were two good plays. As it turns out, they weren't. But you have to go with what you thought at that time."

Schiano also commented on his ability to change offensive play calls during a game, and how that process works.

"Certainly, I can do what I want to do, I'm the head coach," Schiano said. "We game plan together, go through situations together, and during the game there's constant conversation. Certainly, there's playcallers, that's why you can't have a conversation over every play because there is not time to do that. But it's a group effort."

Quarterback talk

The question of whether Chas Dodd or Savage would start at quarterback will be handled the way it has for the last few weeks, and that is with Schiano making an announcement during the week.

"We'll work through it as we have," Schiano said. "I'll make a decision, along with the help of the staff on who we think gives us the best chance to win. He'll start the game knowing that the other guy is a good quarterback, and if need be we can go to him."

However, for the first time in his Rutgers career, Dodd looked inexperienced and unsure in the pocket. He was 3 of 11 for 30 yards against Syracuse's multiple-look and blitzing defense.

"He's only played 4 1/2 college games, so there's going to be some ups and downs," Schiano said. "He had some big ups. Last night he wasn't doing real well and that's why we made a change. But Chas is a competitor. He was there to help and cheer and work with Tommy (Savage) just as Tommy has done with him.

"I'm proud of both of those guys sticking together and working for one cause, and that's to give us the best chance to win. And we'll just work with that whole situation as we have."

Bowl chances

Rutgers needs to win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible for a sixth straight season. With games at Cincinnati and West Virginia sandwiching a home game with Louisville, the prospects remain very real the Scarlet Knight can win two of them and get to a bowl, but Schiano is not looking at that.

"No. 1, you don't look at it as winning two of the final three," he said. "You look at it as winning one of one, and as as long as I'm the head coach, you won't see us hitting the panic button here. We have a way of doing things. At times it's worked very well, at other times medium and then other times not so well, but but that's the way we do it. And we do it one-game-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time.

"Our program will keep doing that, our players will, our coaches will. I hope, I really do hope, that in doing that that'll help us be successful against Cincinnati. As we've seen there are no guarantees, but I know one thing, if we try any other way it won't work."

Offensive line critique

Rutgers' running game worked better than at any point of the season, with 48 attempts accounting for 169 yards. But 166 yards came from receiver Jeremy Deering and another 24 from receiver Mohamed Sanu in the Wildcat.

"I thought we ran the ball more effectively than we have all season," Schiano said. "Sometimes people say the Wildcat doesn't count. But if that's how you choose to run the ball then that is your run-game. Yesterday, that's how we chose to run it."

However, Dodd was sacked twice in the first half and Savaage was sacked twice in the fourth quarter, and the four sacks continued to highlight the pass protection issues of the offensive line.

"We gave up four sacks. That's not acceptable," Schiano said. "And that's been an issue we've had all season. We've tried to make strides. We've tried to do some things to help schematically, but at the end of the day you still need to throw the ball down the field, and to do that you need to protect. And we didn't do a good enough job in that area."

Different looks

Rutgers used offensive guard Antwan Lowery in the backfield, had a formation with 6-foot-8 offensive lineman Art Forst at tight end next to D.C. Jefferson and also used a pair of running backs to help in pass protection.

"What it was was trying to find the most effective way to run the football, and we felt that that would give us an advantage," Schiano said. "That's what we try to do; we try to look at within the schemes that we have.

"How you window dress it, and by that I mean how you formate it, and how you choose to do it, the key is that the schemes, if it's a gap scheme, which is a power-scheme, or if it's a zone-scheme, that those remain the same. Because that's where you need cumulative repetitions to get better at it.

""How you formate it …what it does is it makes it a little more difficult on the defense then to recognize, and certainly the personnel you use — not at the center, guard, tackle positions — to do it whether you use a tight end or you use Art. Art just gave us a little bigger body to do it."

Sanu's injury

Schiano did not have any more information on the leg injury that kept Sanu out in the second half. But it is unrelated to the foot injury that limited him the last few games.

"Like I said last night, he had a leg injury and we'll see where he stands," Schiano said. "I don't think we'll know much more until tomorrow sometime."

Defensive improvement

Rutgers didn't experience the tackling issues or busted assignments it experienced in the last two weeks, but in the end Schiano believes a enough points were scored to get the Scarlet Knights a win.

"I was impressed with certain things but at the end of the game there you have to be able to stop them," Schiano said. "It doesn't matter …we scored 10 points. Ten 10 points is enough to win the game. That's the way I look at it from a defensive perspective. We were unable to stop them.

"Certainly great improvement in that we got after the passer better than we have. We did some good things but at the end of the day it wasn't good enough. So, we don't negate those things that we did better because our whole thing is we're trying to get better as a team, but still at the end of the day it wasn't good enough so we still have improvement to make."

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