Big East Call: More UConn Aftermath

Rutgers enters its first week off since September and coach Greg Schiano is ready to begin bowl preparations. With the team returning to practice late this week, Schiano discussed reaction to the bad UConn loss potential NFL departures today on the weekly Big East conference call.

One of the toughest parts of Saturday's 40-22 loss for Rutgers is that there is no game next week to help flush the embarrassing performance at Rentschler Field.

Instead of a quick turnaround like other losses, Rutgers does not have another game for at least a month and will have the loss to Connecticut to dwell upon.

"As a competitor, I'm not really looking back at the whole season and what an 8-4 record and going to another bowl game [means]," said coach Greg Schiano. "Although I'm very proud for Rutgers to be going to its sixth bowl game in seven years. I think that's a big accomplishment. Right now, I'm just disappointed in the opportunity we had and we didn't perform the way I thought we were capable. Usually right now, we're well into game-planning the next opponent and that is always the best medicine to get over a loss. You have to get back on the horse and get ready."

Though let down because of what could have been against Connecticut, Rutgers (8-4, 4-3) has twice as many regular-season wins as last season and returns to the bowl picture.

"It was very disappointing, with everything that was on the line up at UConn, to play the way we did," Schiano said. "My hat's off to Connecticut. I thought they played extremely well. They coached well and we didn't. Now we'll direct our focus to recruiting and bowl preparation."

Big East Stars

Unlike last season, Rutgers has a legitimate candidate, if not outright leader, for the conference player of the year awards on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, junior Mohamed Sanu set a Big East single-season record with 109 catches to go along with 1,144 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, junior linebacker Khaseem Greene leads the Big East with 127 total tackles. He also has three sacks and two forced fumbles.

"I thought they both had very, very productive seasons," Schiano said. "Mohamed made some spectacular plays while being very consistent all along, 109 catches is a lot of catches.

"Khaseem, I thought, really really adapted to the position very well and just was so productive. [He] made plays all over the field, forcing fumbles, making tackles, forcing fumbles, playing in pass defense. I thought he was a complete player."

Both older than the average junior, Sanu and Greene are both possibilities to declare for the NFL Draft after the season.

"I talk to the players all along about their lives and that's a big part of their lives," Schiano said. "... We just talk. That's the kind of relationships we have. In all of those decisions, I want them to do what's best for them and best for their family because certainly they've made great sacrifices for Rutgers. I do want to make sure that they're making the decisions based on accurate information. There's a lot of inaccurate information out there."

Quarterbacks

Freshman quarterback Gary Nova did a lot well, but had three turnovers in mop-up duty for Chas Dodd Saturday. Schiano, who said the quarterback battle remains open, has a month to review the season and watch bowl practices to pick an official starter for the bowl game.

"He made some plays and he did some freshman-esqu stuff," Schiano said. "The one scramble and throw it, we just can't do that. You cannot make a bad play worse. In the overall tone of the game, we turned the ball over six times, which is not Rutgers football. It's not anybody football. It's not winning football, that's for sure. So, there were some good things, but certainly nobody did anything that was winning football."

Reaction to Meyer.

Schiano and new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer have been close since working together as assistants in the NFL. Schiano said he is "happy for Urban" and his new coaching job.

"I think this is something that he wants to do and I know he'll do a good job," Schiano said. "I'm happy as a friend. I'm happy that this is what he wants to do and he's getting to do it."


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