Preparing for Pitt's Panthers

Rutgers (6-4, 2-3) quarterback Mike Teel said earlier in the week that he was going play this Saturday against Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-2). Backup QB Jabu Lovelace will be ready, just as he was last week, in case he is needed to replace Teel if he cannot continue at any point during the game.

Mike Teel has been battling a right thumb injury for what seems now the majority of the year. The injury has been lingering as Teel initially hit the embattled finger on an opponent's helmet on an attempted pass play after the initial injury.

Lovelace has only attempted 15 passes this season and there are questions as to whether he can handle the load of a full game. Most of those questions were answered last week, however, as Lovelace spelled Teel for the majority of the game and led RU with a pair of TD runs.

The offensive players and coaching staff are confident Lovelace can handle the pressure if called upon once again, but realize that they need to be cognizant of the nerves that come with playing a high pressure position like quarterback.

"I think Jabu gets enough reps during practice that he can be his own leader," Rutgers running back Ray Rice said. "As far as calming him down and getting him into a pace, I can do a little bit of that. Quarterback is a tough position."

"I can imagine what he sees behind the ball. He just has to come in and be confident and once he is confident, it boosts the confidence of the whole offense."

Pittsburgh has a good freshman running back in LeSean McCoy. McCoy is perhaps the next great 'back out of the Big East conference, following in the footsteps of Rice and Steve Slaton. He has averaged 118 yards per game this season and has provided Pitt's offense with a playmaking ability that other teams have to game-plan around.

The Scarlet Knights defense understands that McCoy will get his yards, but they must not allow him to get too many in single rushes.

"Our defense is designed to set an edge, press the ball, and not give big plays," Rutgers linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "He (McCoy) is definitely a shifty guy. He is a very good back. We will have to play our best defense to beat them."

The subplot of the game will be the ongoing festivities of Senior Day, as many players will put the scarlet uniforms on one more time and play before the home crowd for the last time.

However, while this year's senior class may be small, a significant number of this year's incoming freshman class are redshirting allowing Rutgers to bolster its depth in the years to come.

"I think 12 to 15 of our freshman this year are redshirting," Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano said. "Now do they stay for all five is the question, but we will have more of them here."

Speculation is that if Rutgers can win the final two games of the season, then the Scarlet Knights will still have a chance to play in the Sun Bowl. Officials from the Sun Bowl have recently expressed interest in having Rutgers if they can get to eight wins.

Rutgers will host Pittsburgh this weekend and go on the road in two weeks to play Louisville. If the Scarlet Knights are going to make a bid for the Sun Bowl, then they must start with a victory over the Panthers this Saturday.

"I know one thing, we need to win in order for us to do what we want to do," Coach Schiano said. "So we need to take care of that first. There is a time and place for that and now is not it."


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