Rutgers Football Notebook

Rutgers Football (5-2, 2-1) will take on its second top ten opponent in as many weeks this Saturday at noon against No. 6 West Virginia (6-1, 1-1). The Scarlet Knights are coming off a victory over South Florida 30-27, which happens to be the only team to defeat the Mountaineers all season.

West Virginia is known for rushing the ball and the Rutgers defenders will have to be ready to chase down both running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White. The dynamic duo average over 175 yards per game on the ground and their explosiveness has left defenders chasing after them for a couple of years.

"He (Slaton) and Pat are just special, rare kind of talents," RU Head Coach Greg Schiano said.

Rutgers was able to establish a good rushing attack against South Florida's defense. RU running back Ray Rice rushed for 181 yards on 39 carries. The Scarlet Knights have not lost a game all season when Rice has rushed for over 100 yards.

"I don't know where his numbers now compare to his numbers last year, it doesn't really matter to me," Coach Schiano said. "But I think he's running harder now than he has at any other point in the season, so to me that's a positive."

Rutgers will be relying on its home crowd to provide an advantage with another tough game this week. The early noon start may play a role into how loud the crowd gets, but they showed they could affect South Florida.

"I thought our crowd was a huge, huge advantage Thursday night," Coach Schiano said. USF was using hand signals exclusively, they couldn't communicate verbally with the noise level. I had the headsets on but I could still hear it, so I can't even imagine how loud it was on the field." In preparation for field conditions, WVU will be practicing by means of hand signals later this week in the event that is the means of communication they must resort to should the crowd get sufficiently rowdy.

Coach Schiano has never beaten West Virginia in all six attempts he has had against the Mountaineers in his career. He does not think that past losses carry over to the current group of players.

"We haven't beaten them," Coach Schiano said. "That's just stating a fact. Last year I thought we played very well, we were just a couple plays short of winning. When you're playing at that level, it's a very fine line."

Rutgers players did get some time off since the South Florida game. The Scarlet Knights had to prepare for the Bulls on a short week, which provided them with a couple of extra days off before preparations for West Virginia began.

"The rest was good for our guys," Coach Schiano said. "The time it gave our staff to prepare really helped because this is a very complex offense, defense, and special teams to prepare for."

The injury report looks very similar as past weeks. The only player that probably will not play this weekend is safety Ron Girault. Coach Schiano left open the possibility that Girault might play, but Girault has been questionable for multiple weeks now leaving the decision likely as game-time.

RU offensive tackle Pedro Sosa had been bothered this season by nagging injuries but did shut down the South Florida pass attack on the quarterback's blind side and earned the praise of his coach.

"He's (Sosa) been playing nicked up, he and Jeremy Zuttah have been playing nicked up, but they haven't said a word, they just went out and played," Coach Schiano said. "I think we're starting to see the old Pedro again, and I thought the coaches did an excellent job of giving him help when help was warranted and letting him go it alone when they felt he could."

Coach Schiano will not look too far forward when it comes to the Big East. Rutgers controls its own destiny as far as winning the conference now that Cincinnati has lost two straight games.

"That comes back to us doing our best," Coach Schiano said. "It's not going to matter today if we can control our fate. It just gives us a chance. We have to go out and play our best, and our best may not be good enough in any of these remaining weeks."

"This week we have a great team coming to town, and we'll see first of all if we can play our best, that's been our challenge because we haven't been able to do that yet, and then how that will stack up against what West Virginia does that day."

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