In addition he believed that this team was the best conditioned group that he has had so far. These two statements were borne out in camp as all of the starters have now solidified their spots, and only two – So. S Ron Girault, and Sr. LB Will Gilkison - are considered questionable for Saturday's opening game against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Making Schiano's job easier was the fact that only four first year players are on this week's depth chart – RB Ray Rice and JUCO C Darnell Stapleton will start and S Courtney Greene and Glen Lee are expected to see time as backups.
Coach was even prepared for the unexpected. When asked whether he was surprised about the performance of Rice in camp he indicated that he was only surprised that the true freshman was able to handle it so easily, noting that he knew that he had the skill and athleticism to be a starter. As for backup running backs Clarence Pittman, Justice Hairston and Markis Facyson, Schiano indicated that game situations and injuries will dictate how much playing time they get during the season, although all three will be playing on special teams.
Illinois' New Look
While putting the right personnel in place may have been rather easy this time around, preparing for the Fighting Illini has been decidedly more difficult. The Illini are beginning their first year under Head Coach Ron Zook, who had spent the previous three years as the head coach at the University of Florida. Schiano stated that the Illinois offense would be primarily a no-huddle, and would feature many looks, including a spread set similar to that run by West Virginia. He also indicated that there will be the added possibility of seeing trick plays on special teams and offense, making this game even more difficult to prepare for. Schiano ultimately came to the conclusion that preparing for Illinois gave him "a fun challenge." As for prepping his players, he compared the task of planning for such a tough offense to "having a final exam in the first week of class."
Sr. LB Brad Cunnigham
Sr. C Will Vogt
So. RB Dmitri Linton
RS. Fr DB Robert Baham
Did You Know
Rutgers returns 94% of its passing yards, 98% of its receiving yards and an incredible 99.8% of its running yards from last year's high octane offense.