Rutgers Team Report

Another thing to build on. That's what Rutgers coach Greg Schiano took out of last week's game at North Carolina.

Another thing to build on.

That's what Rutgers coach Greg Schiano took out of last week's game at North Carolina.

Oh, and unlike what used to happen when Rutgers found positive signs in games, Schiano also took a win out of Chapel Hill.

Such is life around the NEW Rutgers football.

This week, the Scarlet Knights get to try to erase another part of their past -- and this is a recent past thing we're talking about. Last year, they went to Champaign, Illinois for their opener and led the home team, 27-7, before falling, 33-30, in overtime.

A horrible way to start the season. But Rutgers rebounded to win seven of the next 10 before losing to Arizona State in the Insight Bowl.

"The guys on this team remember that game," says Rutgers fullback Brian Leonard. "You won't have to worry about our focus."

Last week, the Knights threatened to hand another opening game away on the road. This time, though, they held off the charge by the home team - another sign of growth in Schiano's program.

Looking back at last year, Schiano says his team "earned a lesson" on how to stay focused for 60 minutes. Now, his guys get a chance to return the favor to the Big Ten team in the Rutgers home opener. "I think they have a good football team, better than the team of last year and the team last year beat us," Schiano said.

Notes and Quotes
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: North Carolina spent a lot of preparation on keeping Brian Leonard from beating them. That's fine with Rutgers, they just handed Ray Rice the ball, and all he did was run up 201 yards and all three RU touchdowns on the ground. That's the thing with this Rutgers bunch - these guys have a lot of ways to beat you, especially if quarterback Mike Teel is as steady as he was last week.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Bend but don't break? The Scarlet Knights had every chance in the world to blow that game at North Carolina last week, but defensive back Manny Collins came up with his second interception of the game to nail it down. North Carolina is anything but a powerhouse offense, but it is an athletic bunch from the ACC and scored just 16 points.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We felt like we didn't keep the level of focus necessary to win a game in that situation, whereas the game at North Carolina I thought we did." - Rutgers coach Greg Schiano on the difference between blowing last year's opener at Illinois but hanging on to win this year's opener at North Carolina.

Strategy and Personnel
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Illinois at Rutgers, Sept. 9th. After winning on the road last week, Rutgers gets to come home for its home opener owners of a 1-0 record and with bigger and better things on its mind. The Scarlet Knights blew a game opening the season at Illinois last year and don't intend to let that happen again.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Ray Rice - With the North Carolina attention focused on Brian Leonard, Ray ran wild, with 201 yards and all three touchdowns on 33 carries - sharing Big East offensive player of the week honors with West Virginia's Steve Slaton. "I had a few carries left in me," said Rice. "I really wasn't that tired." Rice is the first RU running back with three straight 100-yard games since Jacki Crooks did it in 1998.

QB Mike Teel - Taking over the offense with pressure on his shoulders, Teel was solid in the opener. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, talking on the league media call Monday, says there are no doubts about Teel.

DB Manny Collins - The senior's second interception of the game nailed down the win at North Carolina - Collins earning a league reward when he was named to the Big East's weekly honor roll.

ROSTER REPORT: The Scarlet Knights came out of the North Carolina game in good shape and should be at or close to 100 percent for this week's home opener against Illinois.

--According to Schiano, CB Jason McCourty is the only player "in jeopardy" for the game.

--North Carolina did what it had to do to limit the contributions of Rutgers stars Leonard and Clark Harris - but the pair was content to block and do what had to be done to beat the Tar Heels.


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