Quarterback Questions Linger

The status of Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel was the main topic for RU Head Coach Greg Schiano at his Monday press conference. Teel was unable to finish the game against Army after re-aggravating a thumb injury to his throwing hand.

Backup quarterback Jabu Lovelace had to finish the game for starting QB Mike Teel and ran for two touchdowns in the 41-6 win over the Black Knights. Lovelace may be called upon to start if Teel is not ready to play against Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-2) this Saturday.

"I don't have a preconceived way that we are going to do things. I just want to see how it unfolds," Coach Schiano said. "I think we are prepared to do both in the practice repetitions, that's what we have to take care of. Other than that, it's not important when I make the decision, as long as we're preparing the guys to take the reps."

Lovelace was asked to continue a strong rushing attack that gained 404 yards against Army. Lovelace ran for 81 yards on 23 carries and continued to feed RU running back Ray Rice who gained 243 yards for the game, a new personal best and a new all-time single game record for Rutgers.

However, Lovelace has only attempted 15 passes this season and if Teel cannot go on Saturday, there will be questions as to whether Lovelace can throw the ball enough to lead Rutgers to a win.

"On Friday, the goal was to win the game. There was no reason to risk losing the game by throwing it, when we could run it the way we did," Coach Schiano said. "I had never been a part of a 400 plus rushing effort, so we were going to keep running the ball until they stopped us, and that didn't happen."

"That was a mandate from me. The dig Jabu threw to Kenny was a rope, the ball to Tim Brown was right on the money, hit him on stride, unfortunately Timmy's strides took him out of bounds. He had one ill-advised throw, like any young quarterback, he forced one in there, and we were fortunate it wasn't intercepted."

Punt returns continued to be an issue for Rutgers against Army and the Scarlet Knights have not found a consistent answer to return punts and kicks this season. Coach Schiano is still trying to figure out the right answer at the position.

"We are always evaluating," Coach Schiano said. "There are other guys that do it, so we will evaluate in relation to Dennis Campbell, and we will put out there the guy who gives us the best chance to win. I can't tell you right now, we'll see how the week plays out, but you just can't put the ball on the ground."

Despite the issues at quarterback and in the return game, Coach Schiano must focus on playing Pittsburg this Saturday, a pivotal conference game for both programs with much at stake. The Panthers feature the second leading rusher [behind Rice] in the Big East with running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy has gained 118 yards per game and is only two touchdowns away from Tony Dorsett's Pittsburgh freshman record of 13.

"He is a big-time back," Coach Schiano said. "He's the next great back in this league, that jumps out at you right away. He's big, he's strong, he's very fast, and he's very elusive. He can be going full speed one way, jump cut, and be going full speed another way without much time."

Saturday is the last home game for Rutgers this season, which also makes it senior day. Scarlet Knights like offensive lineman Pedro Sosa and defensive tackle Eric Foster will play their last game in Rutgers Stadium.

Players can feel a wide range of emotions when playing their last game at home and Coach Schiano just wants to make sure that they remained focused on the task at hand.

"I'm not going to get into too much other than to warn them to not let it become an emotional issue," Coach Schiano said. "You don't want your last game to be remembered as the game you played poorly."


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