Rutgers Football Trying to Stop Slide

Rutgers (5-4) will once again play during a short week. The Scarlet Knights are 3-0 when playing on Thursday or Friday night game this season. This time, Rutgers Football travels to West Point to face Army (3-6).

Coach Schiano could not explain why Rutgers has struggled this season. The Scarlet Knights have lost two straight and four of the last six games. Rutgers has to win one of its last three games in order to become bowl-eligible, a quandary that seemed near impossible just three games into the 2007 campaign.

"I have a feeling that's all going to get straightened out," Coach Schiano said. "We've just been a little bit off. It's not a single guy, otherwise you remedy that by making an adjustment on depth."

"I don't think it's a big schematic issue, although every game you come out saying I wish we had done this or I wish we had done that, really it's more just being a little bit off, different guys being a little bit off at different times. And when you're playing the best teams, being a little bit off can be exposed sometimes."

Coach Schiano added that improvement needs to happen nearly across the board. He has said at different times this season that he thinks the team is close, but it seems as though the coaching staff is not getting everything out of their players. It's a characteristic that may be attributed to youth and a lack of experience in some cases.

"Some of it is youth," Coach Schiano said. "Young players who don't know the urgency it takes to win at the highest level of college football. You are as much a psychologist as you are a football coach. Trying to figure out what is most important for this year's team. Every year the team is different."

Rutgers will now prepare for Army, who has lost three straight games. The Black Knights have struggled running the ball this season, averaging 75 yards rushing per game. Meanwhile, opponents are gaining 213 yards on the ground per game.

In addition, Black Knights have thrown 15 interceptions as a team compared to only 10 touchdown passes. In fact, Army has scored 14 touchdowns on offense and turned the ball over 23 times. Rutgers will likely look to pound the ball with running back Ray Rice to avoid turnovers, which has been the Achilles Heel of Army this season.

"Army definitely presents a challenge," Coach Schiano said. "They are an improved football team. They have won some tight games. You know they have won two overtime games. I think, as you watch their tape, you see them getting better."

RU quarterback Mike Teel has been battling an injury to his throwing hand for the past month and will continue to be monitored by the coaching staff. Teel's thumb was sore on Monday and Coach Schiano will try and bring Teel along as the week goes.

Rutgers backup quarterback Jabu Lovelace has seen more action in recent weeks and is becoming a staple of the Scarlet Knights offense. He will be on call if Teel has any issues that should have him miss game time.

"If he [Teel] practices and we feel he gives us the best chance to win, then Mike is going to be the guy who plays," Coach Schiano said. "Jabu's role keeps continuing to grow, and that's not going to change, he's doing a great job."

Coach Schiano put a lot of pressure on his team by saying that he thinks his team will turn it around this week. He sees this game versus Army as a point in the season that may mark the turnaround that he, the staff, and fans have been hopeful for.

"It's going to be a tough challenge, going up there on a short week, on Friday night, at their home," Coach Schiano said. "It's going to be a challenge, but one that we are excited about. Really it's about us."

"No disrespect to anyone, but we have to get ourselves right. If we do that, we have a chance against anyone in the country. And we're going to."

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