Tverdov Helps Anchor Middle

It was a tough Monday practice for Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) as players and coaches alike continue with their short week preparations. Mentally and physically, a short week is draining by itself, but on top of all this, the game is against the No. 2 South Florida Bulls (6-0, 1-0), and as expected, it is drawing a lot of buzz both locally and nationally.

RU defensively tackle Pete Tverdov did extra work after practice and was the last player to leave the field on Monday. This game is reminiscent of last year's battle against Top 5 Louisville and seems to actually be getting more buzz in comparison to last year's contest.

The only important thing for the Scarlet Knights, and Tverdov, is winning. However, until the game against Syracuse this past weekend, he had not been on the field for a Rutgers win this season as he missed RU's initial trio of games with an ankle injury.

"Feels good to win," Tverdov said. "It can cure a lot of problems. When you're losing, everything just seems chaotic. When you're winning, it makes everything feel better, with all that hard work you put in and you get the win at least."

Through three games this season, Tverdov has recorded 17 tackles, including three and a half for a loss. The defensive line is coming along and is almost where it needs to be. One of the reasons for the improvement is having Tverdov back in the lineup every week.

"We aren't where we need to be, but we sure are working on it," RU defensive tackle and captain Eric Foster said. "It is coming together. I can say that, it is really coming together. We are really going to prepare out butts off this week with the time we have left for Thursday and put on a good show."

It was tough for Tverdov to sit on the sidelines and to not be a part of the early season action. He is very competitive and wants to help out his teammates on the field.

"It was tough and depressing not being out there," Tverdov said. "You worked with everyone and had a lot of confidence leading up to the opening game. Then when I got hurt it stunk, but I am passed that now."

Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano is happy to have Tverdov up the middle to go alongside senior standout Foster. Along with defensive end Jamaal Westerman who has seven tackles for a loss and George Johnson, the Scarlet Knights have put together a strong front four.

"Coming out of springtime, Pete (Tverdov) was the starter," Coach Schiano said. "Unfortunately he got hurt right out here during our practice. We were just waiting for him to get back and assume his role again. Pete is an incredibly hard worker."

"What you see out here in one thing, but he is probably one of the top five film study guys. When you see his notes, his notebook is impeccable. Everything he does is with a purpose. He came in here at 212 pounds and now he is 260 something. He is a football player."

Winning is the most important thing for Tverdov and he is solely focused on beating South Florida on Thursday. USF's early season victories have captured the attention of not only their Big East brethren, but the entire nation. Tverdov is well aware of the daunting task ahead.

"They are fast, athletic, and a good football team," Tverdov said. "They are number two in the country for a reason. We are just going to have to do as good of a job as we can to execute the scheme. Hopefully we will beat them."

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