Practice Heating Up

Nobody would know it was late September in New Jersey with the nearly 90-degree temperature that Rutgers (3-0) practiced in on Wednesday.

The players were able to go through practice in shorts as the Scarlet Knights prepare for Maryland (2-2) this Saturday. Last week's practices were described by players as a training camp atmosphere. The players are now ready to get back on the field and continue the push.

Currently, Rutgers is ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll and a game against Maryland, a BCS conference opponent, is important to keep the momentum in voters mind. But, the players look at Maryland like any other game.

"The fact that it's the first BCS conference opponent doesn't matter," Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel said. "It's college football, there are going to be good teams. Maryland is a very good team. Defensively, they are very good upfront, with two good guys on the inside of the defensive line. A linebacker that is as good as anyone and a very physical secondary."

Teel will have to be smart in using his weapons against Maryland. Scarlet Knight receiver Tiquan Underwood and sophomore Kenny Britt rank fourth and 21st in the nation in receiving yards per game respectively. As a combo, the two receivers average 260 yards per game.

The tight end position has been a question all through training camp and none of the players involved in the battle have provided a real answer.

"It is improving every week, which it has to," Rutgers Head Coach said. "So at least we are moving in the right direction."

Players on the Mend
The bye week has allowed certain players to heal and get back on the field. Linebacker Ryan D'Imperio saw some limited playing time at the end of the Norfolk State game, but he is now in a position where he is under consideration to see more significant playing time.

However, the most important player that is back is defensive tackle Peter Tverdov who has not played a down of football all season. Tverdov is expected is start this weekend against Maryland. Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano said that Tverdov was the starter all spring and he will go back to his spot on the depth chart.

"It has been a gradual return," Coach Schiano said. "The bye week helped (Tverdov) edge his way in there as far as feeling comfortable. He went full bore this week and he was the starter when he went down."

Defensive Minded
The Scarlet Knight defense has only allowed nine points a game so far this season and will look to exploit a weak passing game by Maryland. Terrapin's quarterback Jordan Steffy has been sacked 15 times on the season. Rutgers will look to add to the seven that they have racked up on the season. Overall, Maryland ranks 108th out of 119 schools in passing yards per game and 98th in total offense with 321 yards per game.

The biggest strength for Maryland will be rushing the ball. The Terrapins have a significant weight advantage on the offensive line and will likely try to exploit this match up. Maryland's offensive line features five men that all weigh over 300 pounds with left guard Jaimie Thomas being the biggest guy at 6-4 and 339 pounds.

Coach Schiano understands that his defensive line is smaller but does not worry about the weight difference between Maryland's offensive and Rutgers' defensive line.

"That is pretty much every week," Coach Schiano said. "I don't know if it is 60 (pounds) every week, but it is 40 or 50. So when you start getting up in the half a hundreds, I don't know if it matters that much."

The players on the defensive line for Rutgers are ready for the uphill battle that they will face on the field against Maryland.

"We are getting ourselves ready for an all out battle, but we see that everyday," defensive tackle Eric Foster said. "We have Mike Fladell, Jeremy Zuttah, Pedro Sosa, we see the best everyday."

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