Mike Teel gets ready to return back to action

Mike Teel's thumb is fully healed after the long layoff from the end of the regular season, until the International Bowl game against Ball State (7-5). The Rutgers quarterback has battled the injury for most of the season and but can finally put all of that behind him.

With one week left until the bowl game, Teel is now focused on playing against a Ball St. team that is known for creating turnovers. "The thumb is feeling great," Teel said. "I am getting reps and looks I need to get. It is all going really well." Despite having a few days off for the holiday to help heal, Teel was happy to get back on the field and get back to practicing for the bowl game. The Scarlet Knights have been working on the practice field the past two days and are getting back into the swing of things. "It (practice) has not been as crisp as you want it to be," Teel said. "The effort is there. The enthusiasm is there. We need to keep going through the game plan and keep working on the stuff we need to work on so that by the time we go to the game, we will be in good shape."

The junior out of Oakland, NJ did not have as good of a season as he would have liked. He threw 17 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. The signature moment of his season came when after leaving the game against Pittsburg early with the nagging injury to his thumb and he would return in the second half to help secure the victory. Ball St. has a very aggressive defense that can take advantage of the smallest mistakes on the field. The Cardinals average over two takeaways a game and Teel is going to have to play his best in order to prevent any miscues. "They are such an opportunistic team," Teel said. "Their defense, when they have an opportunity to catch an interception, they catch it. When they have a chance to scoop up and fumble or force a fumble they force it and scoop it up. "They're a team you can't make mistakes against, because if you give them the ball, their offense obviously scores points."

The Cardinals have scored 30 or more points in seven of their 12 games this season, exploding for a high of 49 points against Buffalo on Sept. 29. Ball St. has shown that it can score and the Scarlet Knights do not want to give them any extra chances. "We have to help our defense as much as we can by giving them good field position and taking care of the football," Teel said. The long layoff has an impact on how players prepare for a game. Rutgers will be off over a month and getting ready to play a bowl game is completely different then the week-to-week preparations that a team goes through during the season.

Especially early in a bowl game, defenses can have the advantage because offenses are not as in rhythm as they would be earlier in the season.

It will be extra important for Rutgers to have the defense advantage because field position can be shifted by Ball St. punter Chris Miller. He was voted All-Mid-American Conference First Team and ranks third in the nation with a 45.8 yards per punt average. "The bowl game is a lot like the first game of the year," Teel said. "Defense, turnovers, and special teams are going to win the game. We need to take care of the ball and have sound special teams. "We can't have any special team's play that is going to end up costing us the football game. We need to go out and tackle, and obviously score points."


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