Thurs. Notes: Run Game, LeGrand, WVU offense

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers moved inside the Bubble for Thursday's practice because of the rain, and afterward coach Greg Schiano met with the media to talk about the worst run offense and worst run defense meeting in the Big East meeting, the emotions of Eric LeGrand leading the team on the field, West Virginia's offense and much, much more.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – West Virginia brings the worst rushing defense in the Big East into Saturday's game against Rutgers, which counters with the worst rushing offense in the league.

However, despite Rutgers' struggles, both in the run game and scoring, coach Greg Schiano believes the Scarlet Knights are close to breaking out.

"I don't know when it is. I hope it's Saturday," Schiano said after Thursday's practice. "I think we're going to break out. We have talented guys at the skill positions, and we're protecting better …you catch a few of those deep balls and your numbers look totally different. Your record might look a little different, too.

Yes, Schiano was talking about the passing game hitting for bigger plays down the field, but success there could translate into a better running attack because it forces defenses to honor the deep pass.

Rutgers leading receiver Mohamed Sanu, who has 65 catches, has a long of 32 yards. Mark Harrison's long catch is 37 yards and Brandon Coleman's 44-yard touchdown catch is the longest play by a receiver on the season.

"When we had Kenny (Britt), we had a lot of two deep (coverage) to one side," Schiano said. "You might get quarters on the other side but they were going to have two deep on the other side. You get a little bit of that with (Sanu), but that's not the same thing where Mo moves all over the place."

Rutgers is averaging 91.7 rushing yards per game (2.5 per carry) while West Virginia is allowing 130.4 rushing yards per game (3.8 per carry.)

LeGrand entrance

Eric LeGrand will lead the Scarlet Knights onto the field, his first game-day appearance on the High Point Solutions Stadium turf since he was paralyzed from the shoulders down more than a year ago against Army. And he will do so regardless of the weather conditions.

It will be emotional, but Schiano said the Scarlet Knights are prepared to handle it.

"I think our guys are very focused," Schiano said. "We know what's at stake. We know how we can play. It's part of our family. Eric's been with us all along. He's here. I think it's going to be very emotional, but I don't think it's going to be a distraction.

"I'm glad this is going to happen Saturday and I know he's excited."

Defending the Mountaineers

West Virginia is struggling in areas on defense, but offensively it is still scoring aplenty.

The Mountaineers are second in the Big East in scoring (38.3 ppg) and first in total offense (489.9 ypg) thanks to a potent passing attack that is led by quarterback Geno Smith. He has thrown for 2,497 yards and 18 touchdowns (five interceptions) and is completing 63.2 percent of his passes.

"No one has stopped them," Schiano said. "Syracuse did the best job, but I think Syracuse is set up to do that. We aren't set up like the. We pressure, but we're different from them. Syracuse is set up differently.

"You could see why (coach Dana Holgorsen) had success everywhere he's been. They know what they want to do. It's not overly complicated. It's well executed. I think the genius in it is the teaching and coaching. You can see the kids know exactly what to do. They do it at a high speed. When you have good players that are fast, and you give them a system that allows them to play fast, I think that's what they do. When you get the right trigger man, which I think they have, it's quite a thing to watch."

Dodd ready

Schiano said backup quarterback Chas Dodd continues to look sharp in practice.

"I think he practiced well this week," Schiano said. "It's a trade-off, right? When someone comes back from being injured, or someone is demoted, they look fresher and faster. And they are because they're not taking as many reps in practice.

"I think his arm looks like it's just popping. I think if he goes in he'll do a good job."

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