Rutgers Football Looking for Win No. 3

No. 13 Rutgers (2-0) meets the Norfolk State Spartans (1-0) this Saturday. With the weekly deviation from regular practice that comes from preparing for Navy, the Scarlet Knights have resumed more of a normal schedule as they await this week's foe from the Division formally known as 1-AA.

The Rutgers offense has looked solid throughout the season, but the defense has not executed in the same manner that made the Rutgers "D" so dominating in 2006. Unlike normal early season situations, where the defense is typically ahead by a step or two, it is the defense that has needed a bit of a push in practice.

"Right now we're behind," said defensive tackle Eric Foster. "We have to pick ourselves up. Today guys tried to give a little more effort, but it wasn't good enough."

The Scarlet Knights have apparently lost some focus for perhaps a few reasons. It could have something to do with how different of an opponent Navy was from any other team that RU will face this year or it could be the fact that Norfolk St. is coming to town and have not garnered the entire attention of the Rutgers players.

"I don't know if it was Navy and we went to a whole different defense," Foster said. "And now we're back to the basic that guys are having a tough time adjusting. But it all boils down to focusing and getting your job done."

Foster, who is a captain and a leader on defense is focused on getting his teammates up the level that he knows they need to be for the rest of the season. He also knows what they need to fix in order to get there.

"Minor errors," Foster said. "Guys have to be mentally focused. You have to come with the attitude of getting your job done everyday. From the time that you beat Navy, your mind has to shift to Norfolk."

The younger players are having a tough time adjusting to the college lifestyle and making enough time to study, practice, and enjoy college.

"It's just such a time crunch," Coach Schiano said. "Between classes, study hall, supplemental instruction, tutors, meals, lifts and practice, to trying to have any kind of social life. You really have to stick to the work week as the work week and have some time after the game."

With the bye week coming up next week, it appears as though the Scarlet Knight players will get a well-deserved break towards the end of the week.

Quarterback Casey Hansen leads Norfolk St. offensively. Hansen is 22-42 with 245 yard passing in one game this season against Virginia St. The Spartans had a bye week before this week's game.

"He's a big rangy guy with a big arm," Coach Schiano said. "What got him in trouble last year was that he threw some interceptions. He's got the arm that can really hurt you and he has the receivers that can run."

On the injury front, linebacker Ryan D'Imperio is questionable for this weekend. He has continued to do more everyday, but Coach Schiano was hesitant to say that D'Imperio would play.

Freshman defensive back Al-Majid Hutchins might need surgery on a shoulder injury that he has come away with. It is now likely that Hutchins will take a redshirt this season.

Brandon Renkart practiced today and is doing alright. Peter Tverdov is still not likely to play on Satuday.

After practice on Thursday, Coach Schiano plans to watch the West Virginia and Maryland game that is on ESPN. Both teams are opponents for Rutgers later this season. "I really try and force myself to watch it as a fan," Coach Schiano said. "Because if you don't, you will pull a piece of paper out and start writing things down."

On Tuesday, Rutgers University sent a letter to the United State Naval Academy to apologize for the actions of certain people in attendance during the game between Rutgers and Navy last week, including booing and allegedly making obscene comments and gestures. The body of the letter read:

Dear Vice Admiral Fowler:
Let me offer my apologies on behalf of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, for the disrespectful and disgraceful behavior exhibited by some of our fans at the Rutgers-Navy game last Friday. I was at the game but did not hear the offensive chants, which came from a relatively small number of fans, and I learned about them only later. What I witnessed was actually quite the opposite: a large number of Rutgers supporters standing to applaud the Navy players as they left the field at halftime.

No student-athlete should ever be subject to profane language directed at them from the crowd, and certainly not the young men of the Naval Academy who have made a commitment to serve our nation in a time of war. Your Midshipmen conducted themselves with dignity throughout the game and have my admiration.

You have my best wishes and, again, my apologies.
Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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