Practice Notebook: Final Preparations

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — With two days until football returns to High Point Solutions Stadium, head coach Greg Schiano met with the media to discuss final preparations for the Bobcats. Schiano announced this week's game captains and discussed the status of freshmen like Savon Huggins and Gary Nova.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — If the past is any indication, running back Savon Huggins is on the right track. According to coach Greg Schiano, Huggins' work ethic and maturity remind him of two other former Scarlet Knights that are tearing up the National Football League.

"It's the maturity level with which he approaches his preparation," Schiano said of Huggins. "That's usually where freshmen don't get it because they've been able to go on ability their whole life. Then they get here and ability isn't enough.

"There's nobody more talented than Kenny, but it took Kenny eight games, I think, to get into the lineup because of his preparation. Ray came in and he was focused and he was a grinder. He was a great talent, but he was a grinder. Savon's like that, Kevin Snyder is like that. That's why Kevin is able to play as early as he has."

Huggins is expected to make his first career start against Ohio and will lead the three-headed rushing attack with Jeremy Deering and Jawan Jamison.

Snyder is in a similar position. He will get significant work behind Jamal Merrell at strongside linebacker and do his usual work on kickoff coverage.

Backup Quarterback

Schiano said the ideal situation is to play Gary Nova as the backup in every game to get him experience.

Nova did not play against North Carolina, however, because the pass rush was to aggressive to adjust a second quarterback to the speed of the game.

"It's my goal to get him in every game a little bit," Schiano said. "Things were so hot down there, and by hot I mean the pass rush, that I didn't want to get a second quarterback getting used to that speed. If we can protect better, I'd like every game to get him in a little bit. I'd like to get him some experience. Sometimes that comes by feel.

"I think he's progressing nicely. He has a lot of that natural quarterback to him. He was trained well in high school (Don Bosco Prep). He played for a coach who really knows how to coach quarterbacks. He came here with a very good foundation."

Game Captains

David Rowe, Manny Abreu, Caleb Ruch and Jawan Westerman are the four game captains this week.

"I like it," Schiano said on game captains. "Every senior will have a chance to be a captain and then we'll just go from there. If at some point, I feel like we should name captains, we'll just do it. We're getting away from all of the ‘it's got to be this. It's got to be that.'"

Harrison maturing

Mark Harrison struggled with drops in his first two games, but Schiano said he responded well during the last two weeks of practice.

"I think Mark's really matured," Schiano said. "Two years ago, I might have been walking him by the hand through the whole week. He's growing up. He's become a young man, which is neat to see."

This and that

Schiano said Joe Martinek is fine and that he will play. ... Schiano and De'Antwan Williams did not meet yesterday because of a scheduling conflict, but will meet today. Do not expect anything major from the meeting. He is not expected to return to the team. ... Betim Bujari, Antwan Lowery, Desmond Stapleton and Kaleb Johnson are all expected to see playing time against Ohio.

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