Thursday Notebook: Preparations for Cincy

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers is 48 hours away from kicking off its biggest home game in five years. Speaking to the media for the final time before the Cincinnati game, head coach Greg Schiano discussed the mental preparations for the Bearcats, limiting turnovers and injury updates.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — On both sides of the ball, turnovers can decide the result between Cincinnati and Rutgers Saturday with first place on the line.

For the Rutgers defense, which is first in the conference in total defense, turnovers gained and interceptions, turning over backup quarterback Munchie Legaux is a key to victory.

But for the struggling Rutgers offense, head coach Greg Schiano said quarterback Chas Dodd needs to limit turnovers.

"We have to do a better job there," Schiano said. "You never want to make your quarterback afraid, but these haven't been those kinds of throws. They haven't been ones where ‘I thought I could sneak it in there.'"

On the season, 19 of the team's 22 turnovers this season involved quarterbacks in some capacity.

"Like anything in life, sometimes your strengths are your weaknesses," Schiano said. "Their strength is that these guys are such intense competitors, but that becomes a weakness when you can't let a play die. When you think about the interceptions that we've thrown, they've all been interceptions that, ‘I thought I could get it in there. I want to make it happen.' Several of them, in Gary's case, he didn't want to leave the field. He loves to play quarterback. He wants to stay on the field.

"It's not the end of the world if you throw an interception if you're trying to stick it in a window and the window closes. It's when you let a bad play get worse that I don't like."

Staying Fresh

Playing games week-after-week, Schiano said one of his focuses this week is keeping the team rested. Not having a week off since North Carolina, players have spent less time on the field and more time in the film room this week, he said.

"When you like we have, the ninth straight week, you have to be careful," Schiano said. "We've had to cut plays. Otherwise you won't have them ready to go on Saturday. What we try to do is spend a little extra time in the film room. Not really extra, more time than normal and then less time on the field."

Noon Start

Though fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:40 for Senior Day, the game kicks off at noon. Schiano discussed the significance of a noon start vs. a night start like South Florida last time at home.

"You can't get to Friday and be like, ‘oh … this is a 12 noon game,'" Schiano said. "Everything gets pushed forward. And then a night game, everything gets pushed back. If you have a routine getting ready for a one o'clock game and then it's an eight o'clock game at night."

Rutgers has not had a noon game since Syracuse to start the Big East slate. Preparing from a timing standpoint, Schiano said, is crucial.

"I actually had one of our players tell me that and I was really frustrated about our play at Louisville," Schiano said. "He said, ‘that was the first time we'd played at night in a long time and I just couldn't get myself ready for that eight o'clock start.' I never think of that. Since then, I talk a lot to our players about our players about not only having a plan in execution, but having a plan in the timing and getting yourself prepared."

Team Captains

Juniors Mohamed Sanu, D.C. Jefferson, Steve Beauharnais and Khaseem Greene will be Saturday's team captains with the seniors being honored separately before the game.

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