A preseason interview with Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano - Part 1 of 2
Scout: Your current roster includes 29 seniors and 23 juniors along with 5 all league candidates and 3 all-American candidates. Does this team now have the experience and the talent necessary to have a winning season and attain a bowl bid?
Greg Schiano: I think we have it. For the first time since we've been at Rutgers, we have experienced leadership. Which isn't always one and the same. Now I think our guys that are playmakers are experienced and they are the leadership of this team. I think at some point they were the playmakers but not necessarily the leadership of the team because they were young. In many instances, the same guys that make the plays now, have made them two- three years ago. So they've now been in the program and grown up and become men and are the leaders of the program. I think that's what's important. That, plus everything that's going on around here from the academic success that this program has learned to achieve, because each semester is a new ball game being able to keep our kids eligible and keep them playing and keep them in school. That coupled with our experienced leadership with the guys that are the playmakers. Those two things are probably the biggest things that have arrows pointing towards where we should be going and that's to be successful. Our goal, and a very obtainable one, we have to go out and do it. Talking about it is one thing, we have to go out and do it this year. Do I think we're capable of doing it? Yes. Now we have to go out and do it.
Scout: Over the last two years, Hart has been among the nations leaders in passing. However, he has also been among the nation's leaders in interceptions. Many of which have adversely effected the fortunes of the team. If Hart throws interceptions early in the year will you go with another quarter back for the rest of the season?
Greg Schiano: Ryan's been an incredibly productive quarterback for us in a lot of ways. Interceptions, is something that he fully understands has to decrease and he will do that this year. Ryan will have a great football season this year, and will be a great quarter back for Rutgers. God willing he stays healthy, he'll break probably almost every conceivable record there is as a quarter back at this school and he will defiantly get it done. He will not turn the ball over like he has done in the past.
Scout: Can you expand on some of the measures that you are taking to actually improve him not throwing interceptions?
Greg Schiano: We certainly have made it a point of emphasis but I think it's Ryan embracing the fact that this is what is going to make us win football games because I think that this team has finally come to the realization that no matter what doing things nearly right in the league we play in and the competition level we play in isn't good enough. To win it's a fine line between winning and losing and you have to do it 100% right. I think that no one grasps that better then him right now and I think that he's going to have a tremendous season. If god willing he stays healthy.
Scout: Ryan Hart is the only quarterback that has taken a snap who is returning to the team. You have a true freshman joining the team and a redshirt freshman. Can you comment on the quarterback situation, particularly Mike Teel? Since he was a valued recruit coming in and he seems to be Hart's successor.
Greg Schiano: I'm very excited about Mike (Teel). I think Mike has worked incredibly hard to become a better quarter back. In the classroom he is a student of the game and physically he has changed his body. Those two things are going to lead to great success for Mike Teel. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I look at it fortunately, he turned his ankle at the end of spring but, it was a chronic issue and finally that's what forced us to get the surgery and now he's better for it. I think Mike has a very bright future here. I think that depending on what he does now when he really becomes good enough to feel like we will win football games with Mike Teel as quarter back that will depend on how we will do it. Certainly I'd like to get him some snaps so he gets some experience but, first and foremost I don't know when football begins this season, this team, deserves that so I think most of that will rely on what Mike does. He certainly is encouraging all the arrows again for him are pointing straight up. I think he'll be a great quarter back here somewhere in the future.
Scout: Obviously you have great credentials on the defensive side of the ball. However, you have a great deal of responsibility as the head coach. Since there are only a few head coaches in the country who take on this dual duty, can you comment on why you took on this additional responsibility and the benefits of doing so?
Greg Schiano: You know there's more than you think. There are not as many defensive coordinators that are head coaches, a lot of the guys that run their offenses are head coaches. I think the key is you need a few things to be able to do that effectively. Number one, is that you need to be in a situation where you feel comfortable with the structure of your program, which I do. That's everything from your video people to your academic support, and training room. We have a group of people now finally, that have been put in place that are some of the best in their fields. The second thing I think is that you have to feel really good with the person who runs your administrative operation. Max Bowman, is the guy that has been around. He's been in the NFL, he's been in major colleges, and he's been a head coach and started his own program. So he's a huge asset and someone that allows me to do what I'm doing and that's one of the reasons that I hired him. Then the third thing, and probably as important or most important is we have a very, I think a good defensive staff that guys have had responsibility in different places in their career, different roles that is not me doing it, its us doing it. You throw all that together and it gets what's best for the program at this time. Is it going to always be like this? I'm not going try and predict that. For right now its best for us and that's why I choose to do it. I'm excited about doing it. It's fun, its something I love to do. It definitely is a lot of work but, like I said with other things being taken off my plate I think it's doable for me now.
Scout: Did you actually see some improvement in the defensive play after the spring or June to spring and with the additions to the program with the incoming freshman. Can we expect an improvement in the defense?
Greg Schiano: Yes, I think we'll get better as we go along on defense. I think that losing hurts. He was the guy we were counting on unfortunately we have some debts at that position. We have a mix, I think we have a mix of experience in youth. I think we have a group of guys that are going to work very hard to get better, and we certainly have to. The strength of our football team obviously is our offense and our defense has to get better and the defense needs to hold their weight and allow our offense to win football games for us. That's what the plan is.
Scout: Can you comment on the loss to your interior line? Because I would say, that seems to cause some concern from the fans.
Greg Schiano: I think rightfully so I mean one of the things about football is that guys graduate and move on. We have some young players in the program that are going to have to step up now and they are good football players but they have never played. So they have to step up and do it. When you lose three guys to NFL training camps, they're 3 pretty good players and not easy to replace. That's our job as college football coaches.
Scout: The offensive line was an area of concern last year. How do you feel this group will improve in 2005?
Greg Schiano: We'll be better upfront and we'll run the football better. I think it's the players understanding and the players' attributes that the guys bring to the offensive line that maybe they didn't bring a year ago.
Scout: Now you technically only lost two guys on the offensive line. Is it more that they've gotten better physically, better technique wise, or a year older.
Greg Schiano: All of these things. I think that they've just gotten better. I think that Coach Flood has done a very good job with them. There just seems to be a different feeling among the group and I have had a different feeling about the group.
Scout: We have heard a lot about Kyle Flood and his approach and how much the offensive line and the players and the recruits take to him. Can you comment on Kyle Flood and what he brings to not only the offensive line, but to the program?
Greg Schiano: Kyle is an excellent coach. More important he's and excellent person. I think those two things usually go hand in hand. Not always, but usually and I was impressed with the job he did this spring. I was impressed with the way he recruits and impressed with him as a coach and I'm glad he's here with us at Rutgers.
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