Day-After: Starting QB, Abreu hurt, Harrison

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he thinks Gary Nova will start Saturday against West Virginia, that Mark Harrison's drops may be the result of thinking too much and there is concern over a hand injury to starting defensive end Manny Abreu.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he thinks Gary Nova will start Saturday against West Virginia, that Mark Harrison's drops may be the result of thinking too much and there is concern over a hand injury to starting defensive end Manny Abreu.

In talking with the media Saturday morning, Schiano addressed a number of the key issues from Friday's 16-14 loss at Louisville, and it began with the play of Nova, Rutgers' freshman quarterback.

Nova threw three interception, including two in the opening minutes of the game, and finished 18 of 33 for 207 yards and a touchdown.

"I felt he was sailing the ball," Schiano said. "That's something that we just have to do a better job on to correct."

Schiano said not all of Nova's issues, which included another illegal forward pass for being across the line of scrimmage, are a result of inexperience.

"I think seniors throw interceptions …freshman do," Schiano said. "When you sail a ball like what happened, that may be where you're too amped up (and) seeing something and maybe not having gone through that feeling. Maybe it's a different coverage thing, maybe it's the timing was off a little bit.

"The more times you go through anything the better off you're going to be at it. But the thing I think he does so well is he feels the pocket, moves up in the pocket, and delivers the ball down the field. That's some big receptions. He could've had more."

Schiano said he expected Nova to start against the Mountaineers, and mentioned some of the things Nova is doing well.

"We're converting on third down at a much higher rate than we did in the past, which that's a tribute to your quarterback," Schiano said. "Especially on third-down, when you get the exotic coverages, and you get the exotic blitzes. We're doing a much better job of it.

"We just need to make sure, as we move forward, we eliminate opportunities for bad plays and continue to make the good ones that we're making."

Schiano also talked about Nova's ability to sense pressure.

"Gary has a very good feel in the pocket," he said. "When you see him hard slide up in the pocket, that helps you quite a bit."

Missing the Mark
Junior receiver Mark Harrison's latest big drop came in the fourth quarter with the Scarlet Knights down two points. He was behind the defense and Nova found him after moving around in the pocket.

However, Nova's pin-point pass went through Harrison's hands, and led to Rutgers punting two plays later. It wasn't an isolated incident as Harrison has dropped a number of passes this season.

"You can't get inside somebody's head, but I think probably the more time (Harrison has) to think about it, thinking about the result — thinking ‘I got it, here's a touchdown, here we go.'– rather than just sticking to fundamentals," Schiano said, "catching it, looking it in, sealing the ball high and tight and then scoring …We just have to continue to work, and probably need to continue to stress deep balls because we have the ability to get behind people."

Staying with Te
Rutgers placekicker San San missed two field goals and has missed four kicks in the last two games.

However, not all were his fault since holder J.T. Tartacoff dropped a snap last week and this week's holder, Patrick Kivlehan, may not have had a clean hold on Te's second miss."

"I think we just need to get him back this week," Schiano said. "Not making excuses because they kick with all the holders, but his holder a week ago was dealing with an injury and there are some things … at the end of the day he has to make those kicks.

"We just need to get back to swinging his leg the way he's capable. Because he's made some big kicks as well. It's not where he's just not had a good season, it's just been inconsistent. He's been better than he's been his whole career between 40 and 50, which are big kicks, and these (under 40) have been the ones he's made in the past.

"We just need to gain consistency and keep the long-ball ability that he's had. Again, down the stretch we need him to be a productive player."

Abreu ailing
Starting defensive end Manny Abreu missed much of the game because of a hand injury.

"He hurt his hand," Schiano said. "I don't know to what extent. We're going to have to visit with the doctors later today — it's not broken. Preliminary x-rays said that so it's going to be a matter of what it is. That hurt not having him out there."

Poor tackling
Rutgers was a very good tackling team the first half of the season, but that was not the case against the Cardinals.

"We have a certain way that we teach tackling and we didn't follow that method consistently," Schiano said. "The other thing is we didn't do our job all the time in front seven. When you don't do that, now you leave bigger gaps of daylight. So what are usually phone booth tackles now became garage door tackles.

"It's a lot hard to make a tackle in a garage door than it is to make a tackle in a phone booth. It was a combination of both things, but if we could restrict it to daylight the way we have through six games, we would've made a lot of those tackles. When you're running the ball to an edge that never really sets itself, then you got problems. We need to improve there."

Getting Shuler involved Freshman receiver Miles Shuler played sparingly, and was open on a go route but the ball was underthrown.

Schiano said because Shuler won't be red-shirting, the Scarlet Knights will look to get him more opportunities down the stretch.

"He's played. He's used his year of eligibility so there were certain things that we were going to try to do with Miles," Schiano said. "He's practicing and as he gets more comfortable we're going to try to get him in the game and see what way he can help us.

"Again, it's a deep (receiver) group. I think Miles is a little different kind of guy as far as body structure goes so I think he can be a good complement for the second part of the season as he feels more comfortable."

Scarlet Report Top Stories