If Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano could have a star player at any defensive position, what would that position be? Tackle of course. Unfortunately the big news this week isn't the team's play in a 38-6 victory on Saturday over the Villanova Wildcats, but instead the focus is on the loss of star defensive lineman Eric Foster to a knee injury, which will require surgery and will put Foster on the bench for the rest of the season.
When asked about the impact this injury would have on the team Coach Schiano said: "It's huge. Eric Foster has not only become one of the best defensive players, but he is also the emotional heartbeat of this defense."
Schiano said that the depth and inexperience on the defensive line was already a concern and due to defections every defensive player will have to pick up the slack to make up for the loss of Foster. Specifically, Fr. Ryan Blaszczyk will likely see time replacing Foster, along with Fr. Peter Tverdov, who has already seen his first collegiate action this past week. "Blaszczyk is more physically ready than fellow freshmen Gary Watts, Vantrise Studivant and Chris Dirksz," Schiano said.
He believes that the success of the defense this season will depend largely on the play of the interior defensive line.
"This is going to be a season-long deal. It's going to be a matter of how fast we get better in there."
Coach Schiano stated that for the third week in a row there are some unknowns as far as the opposing offense was concerned. In weeks 1 and 2 the Scarlet Knights faced teams playing their first game of the season. This week Rutgers faces a Buffalo Bulls team that has been shut out in its first two games by Big East opponents Connecticut and Syracuse. Coach said that Buffalo may attempt to try new things in order to get their offense going.
He indicated that if Buffalo does stick with what they have done they will come out with a 3-wide receiver set from the beginning.
"They like to throw the football and will mix in screens. The jailbreak screen, the bubble screen, the flare screen. They do a lot of things. They make you defend tip to tip as far as the field goes."
In addition Buffalo, it appears, has a couple of good, experienced players on the interior OL which could present a problem for a smaller less experienced Rutgers DL, particularly with the injury to Foster and some of the younger guys thrown into the mix.
New Jersey native true Fr. Drew Willy may see some time at QB for the Bulls, after going 5-9 for 54 yards in a shut out loss against Syracuse last week.
In other news
Senior OT John Glass has been suspended from the team for an unspecified violation of team policy. Glass will practice with the team, but will not play in Saturday's game against Buffalo. RS Fr. Mike Gilmartin will likely get the start in his place.
Schiano revealed that the staff has a plan in place to get Mike Teel into the game for the rest of the season. While Schiano would not reveal what that plan is he did say that, "As long as he gets to go in the game and we don't miss a beat then we need to do that". Teel led the Knights on an impressive 88-yard TD drive during his first collegiate game action, as part of a 38-6 home opening victory for the Scarlet Knights.
Did you know?
Sr. QB Ryan Hart is only 266 yards away from passing Scott Erney as RU's leading career passer.