Rain Impacts Preparation for both Squads

With RU and Kansas State having arrived on Saturday, both teams had plenty of time to become acclimated to the surroundings. However, Christmas day's rainy forecast forced a bit of a change of pace and the Rutgers Football team and their adversary, Kansas State, were forced indoors. Rutgers Football Coach Greg Schiano and members of the Scarlet Knights met with media after their Monday session.

Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano

(on the number of Florida players on the roster)  "I think it was an opportunity for them to better themselves, and I think that's what they saw it as, and thank God they did, because a lot of those kids were what helped us get over the hump during some tough times."


(on what the Florida players' connection to the Northeast was)  "I think the connection initially was my time at the University of Miami, but that lasts for a year.  You go 2-9 your first year and they don't care if you're from Mars.  I think our players, the experience that they had, the first eight of them that came up to Rutgers, then they went home and they were our best recruiters from that point on."


(on the sense of urgency in today's practice)  "I think it was a good practice because at yesterday's, we had no helmets on and there was no shoulder pads, so really it's been a couple of days, and I think they know this is it.  Tomorrow, we'll be in spiders again, so it was one day of pads and they did as I hoped they would.  They practiced well."


(on the status of WR Willie Foster)  "He looks better."


(on the status of OL Dan Mazan)  "Dan had a reoccurring shoulder that finally, he just said he didn't feel like he could play effectively.  It's been all season, he's just been fighting through it.  He had surgery before he got to us and then he did it again here.  This one, there was—we can't pinpoint what the acute happening was that made it occur; maybe Dan can, but they're not sure, the doctors."


(on whether S Glen Lee will be able to play)  "I don't know.  We'll have to see.  I think the next 48 hours are critical for him.  It's a freakish thing.  He just went up to get a ball and when he got hit, his arm went back.  I hope he can, but if not, someone else will step up."


(on who he expects to return punts if WR Willie Foster can't play)  "By committee.  (WR) Timmy (Brown), (WR) Dennis (Campbell), (WR) James (Townsend), they all do it, so we'll see."


(on the layoff between the regular season and the bowl)  "I don't even think about it because it's the way the bowls work, but it was a long season for us.  We went from August 6 all the way through championship Saturday.  Our break wasn't as long as some.  Some of those teams that finished in midseason and aren't playing until the first week of January, that's a heck of a break.  Ours, I think, is pretty good, actually."


(on practicing on field turf and the game being played on real grass)  "We're not sure where we'll be tomorrow.  Hopefully we can get outside on the real grass, but again, we'll see.  We were fortunate that the weather was good back home, so we were on real grass all that time in our preparation.  I don't know if we even went in the bubble twice during that time, so I might be a little more concerned if we hadn't been on the real grass back home."


(on why they moved from the University of Houston to Methodist Training Center)  "No, actually, we planned to go out there (to UH), but the rain has made that not possible."


(on whether they had the option to practice at Methodist Training Center)  "We had the opportunity to train here.  It was just that they had the (Houston Texans) game here yesterday and we were going to be unable to practice.  My thing is you don't want to set up camp at one place one day and then pick it all up and move it all the next day.  Football players and coaches and managers are creatures of habit.  If we can just create a little habit while we're here, I thought that would be helpful."


(on the improvement of DT Ramel Meekins)  "He is a great story.  He is a hard-playing overachiever who doesn't see himself as an overachiever; he sees himself as just an achiever.  He came to us his freshman year and we didn't even really know who he was.  One of our coaches that recruits that area, the high school coach told him, ‘This kid's a really good player,' but he was 5-11 and you sit there and say, ‘Is he going to make it?'"


(on Meekins earning a scholarship)  "What he did his freshman year was worked his way into playing 100 plays, and then turned around and went and wrestled as a walk-on and was one of the top 12 heavyweights in the country.  Not bad for a guy who wasn't supposed to be able to do it."


(on having a player like Meekins on the team)  "I've loved having him.  He's a hard worker and he sets the tempo for our entire defense.  He's kind of that quiet leader.  He doesn't say a lot, but he shows and demonstrates by example, and not to mention all that, he's very productive.  He makes a lot of plays.  He had nine sacks as a nose guard last year and, I don't know, what did he have this year?  Six or seven?  As a nose guard, that's pretty hard.  You're usually getting double teamed."


(on if Rutgers has several players who could be considered overachievers)  "We have some.  Our starting middle linebacker, we were his only Division I offer, (LB) Devraun Thompson.  I sure am glad he's here.  He started since game six his freshman year on and hasn't missed a game or a practice.  He's a pretty special guy."


(on DT Eric Foster)  "Eric's one of those special, dominant players that can take over a game when he's really playing.  And when he's not playing at that level, he's awful darn good.  There's a reason he's an All-American, there's a reason that he's captain as a junior.  Those are all things, he's not only a good player, but he really does things the way that we expect Rutgers guys to do it."


Rutgers QB Mike Teel


(on the team's success this season)  "We've been playing good football for a lot of the year.  We came out and we worked hard throughout the weeks in practices and the coaches gave us great game plans and we went out and were able to play good, hard football and execute.  It's a lot of credit to a lot of different people.  A lot to the coaching staff for the game plans they put together, a lot for the guys going out and executing and putting it all together and just playing good football."


(on the team's emotions coming into the Texas Bowl)  "It's the way it goes.  You can't control some things sometimes.  It's done and over with and we're happy to be here.  We're happy to have another opportunity to play in a bowl game—the second in two years and that's something that hasn't been done much at Rutgers before.  We're excited about the opportunity."


(on the layoff between the regular season and the bowl)  "Everyone has layoffs when bowl season comes around.  It's good in a way because it gets a lot of the younger guys reps again in practice almost as another spring ball, and it gives you a while to really prepare and really get ready to play your opponent.  We've had some time to look at Kansas State and really get ready and prepared to play a very good football team."


Rutgers DT Ramel Meekins


(on why he decided to attend Rutgers)  "It's my home state, not too far away from home.  I had the opportunity to play football and wrestle.  Pretty much I was just going on a leap of faith."


(on when he realized he could play Division I football)  "I think when I started moving up the depth chart during that first camp my freshman year.  I was doing well, I was making plays in the scrimmages, and my technique was pretty good.  I had a very good high school coach who taught me a lot of defensive technique.  My high school coach was a former NFL player (J.T. Turner).  He knew a lot of technique and he taught me that in high school and helped me do well in high school, and that propelled me over the guys that I came in with and some of the guys who were here currently."


Rutgers DT Eric Foster


(on whether he believed he'd be playing in bowl games when he first came to Rutgers)  "That's why I came to Rutgers because I knew that we would be the first to ever turn this program around and the first to make history."


(on what he has seen from Kansas State on film)  "They're explosive on offense, they've got some deadly receivers, their quarterback is good and athletic.  They've got a great team."


Rutgers FB Brian Leonard


(on today being the last practice of the season in pads)  "It is my last day in pads, and I felt it, too.  I got a lot of reps today.  I think it was definitely intentional.  I've got to get ready for the game.  Yesterday, we couldn't get in pads because we had to practice (indoors at UH), so we definitely needed to get out here and just bang all day.  It was definitely intentional."


(on being excited about playing in an NFL stadium and practicing at an NFL training facility)  "When I was at the (Houston Texans) game the other day, I was picturing that maybe someday I could be playing here, and I thought it was pretty neat.  You're not really focusing on that right now, but that is in the future and you've got to think about that a little bit, though.  It was neat seeing their facilities and comparing them to ours and what they have."


Rutgers RB Ray Rice


(on where the team is right now)  "I think the team is where we need to be at right now.  What happened with West Virginia is gone now and we're here at this bowl game and we're trying to accomplish something that we've never accomplished before."


(on being motivated to be the first Rutgers team to win a bowl game)  "I think it's motivation that we've never won a bowl game, and the fact that we've got seniors who came in through the tough times at Rutgers, and now we're here.  Two bowl games back to back, and we've got to send them off with one victory."


(on the Kansas State defense)  "Their defense is probably one of the best defenses that we're going to see all year.  They have a lot of things where they move a lot.  They can run as fast as anyone, and they've got the Big 12 player of the year on their defense, so that speaks for itself."


(on what stands out from this season)  "I just think we kind of hit our peak obviously after the Louisville game, but I think this team was destined to be great in our offseason.  Our offseason was pretty tough.  All the work we put in, and we feel like we're finally getting paid; that hard work paid off.  I would give credit to our offseason.  The height of our season was probably our offseason because it felt like we were doing the right things that put us under pressure.  Now you see the (crowd noise) during practice and different stuff.  I can't speak for what other teams do, but I know what we were doing was pretty intense."


(on what it would mean to the program to win the bowl game)  "It would be history for our program, and then coming into next year, we would be 11-2 coming into next year.  It would look pretty good coming into next year and we would probably be up in the rankings."

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