Getting Focused on Army

Rutgers players are looking for reasons to rally around with only three regular season games remaining. The Scarlet Knights (5-4) will take on Army (3-6) this Friday night at West Point.

Rutgers has lost four of its last six games and the players are looking to turn that misfortune around and attempt to work their way into postseason and the bowl game award that comes with it.

"The guys have been focused the last two days" RU quarterback Mike Teel said.

"Guys have been flying around with great intensity, great focus, and that is what you need, especially when you are on a short week."

Playing for the seniors on the team like offensive linemen Jeremy Zuttah and Pedro Sosa, along with defensive tackle Eric Foster and linebacker Brandon Renkart is one of the main motivations left for this year's team.

"Every year you want to do that," Rutgers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood said. "You want to send your seniors out the right way and that is what we are going to try and do. We are basically playing for each other and that is what is driving us right now."

Army allowed a 275-yard rusher in its 30-10 loss to Air Force. Rutgers running back Ray Rice has 1257 yards this season and a strong game for the Junior running back of that magnitude may be in the offing.

Army has not won the battle at the line of scrimmage this season allowing an average of 213 yards per game compared to only gaining 77 yards per game on the ground.

On the other side of the field, the Scarlet Knight players do not have answers for why Rutgers has not played to the level that they should be playing at.

"The bottom line is, we can't change anything that has happened," RU quarterback Mike Teel said. "It has been disappointing and frustrating at times, but we have to keep pressing forward and keep trying to get ourself better."

Coach Schiano has stressed that his focus, unlike that of the message board community, is on the continued improvement of the football team.

"I am honest with our recruits about everything," Coach Schiano said. "Again, I don't want to trick anyone into coming to Rutgers, because then they will get here and they won't want to be here and they will want to leave. My deal is shoot them straight, tell them where we are."

Despite the fact that the actions of the fans during the game against Navy had nothing to do with the Scarlet Knight players, questions did come up about playing Army this Friday and whether the RU players understand the importance of showing respect to the Black Knights.

"Our kids get it," Coach Schiano said. "They get it. When you're playing them, you better not respect them too much, you better play them. But they understand that all 51 other weeks of the year, these guys make a huge sacrifice for our country."

One of the issues that Rutgers has dealt with at different times this season is losing the special teams battle. Early in the season, the Scarlet Knights struggled covering kickoffs, different players have fumbled punts, and last weekend, Connecticut blocked a Rutgers punt resulting in a safety.

"We are going to try and improve our kicking game obviously, that is what hurt us," Coach Schiano said. "I think we actually improved it in the second half and made some changes in personnell, but that is not the answer, that is the short term answer."

Perhaps the most important thing is for the Scarlet Knight players to keep a good frame of mind and to not allow the negative play of past weeks impact their play this week.

"I think we had two great practices yesterday and today," Underwood said. "You can just feel the urgency in the atmosphere around here. Guys are just doing their job and having fun and I think it is all coming together."

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