Underwood makes ready for Bowl

The days continue to dwindle before Rutgers packs its bags and heads north to Toronto for the International Bowl. Players like wide receiver Kenny Britt and quarterback Mike Teel have used the extended break from the end of the regular season until the bowl game to heal from injuries. Others, like Tiquan Underwood, are simply excited at the prospect of getting back on to the field.

Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is excited to have both players fully healthy for the bowl game, as Teel and Britt are vital to the team and his individual success.

While the media can only watch the last 25 minutes of practice, Underwood said that Teel looks to be back in rare form.

"Teel has been lights out," Underwood said. "It looked like it was the summer again, before the injury. He is just out there, taking lead of the offense. He can make every throw and he looks real good out there."

Britt has only been practicing since the end of last week and is still working back into the groove of the offense. However, Underwood is just happy to see him back on the field and sees him coming along well.

"Kenny is doing well," Underwood said. "This is his first real week out here. It is taking time, but he is going to be fine."

Underwood (junior) and Britt (sophomore) have been the headline receivers this season and both will be coming back next season. Because both men caught over 1,000 yards this season, some of the other receivers did not have many chances to make plays during games. In recent practices, Underwood has been very impressed by his receiver and kick return buddy Dennis Campbell.

"The last couple practices, I think we had about eight or nine, Dennis Campbell has played out of this world," Underwood said.

Rutgers uses many different players to return kicks. Campbell was being used in that role earlier in the season but saw less time as the season went progressed due to his 12.6 yards per return average.

The best option down the stretch of the season became Underwood who gained 25.3 yards per return, which led all Scarlet Knights besides Kordell Young, who hurt his knee earlier this season.

"When you're playing, you just want the opportunity to touch the ball," Underwood said. "Kickoff and punt return is just another opportunity to touch it."

However, despite all of the solid numbers receiving and on kick returns, Underwood was not happy with the entirety of his performance this season. At times, he had trouble with drops and those mistakes were a part of the reason his high level of production tailed off as the season went along.

The junior receiver gained over 100 yards five times - four of those were in a row to begin the season.

"We have been having a lot of talks with Coach Jackson [receiving coach] and Coach McNulty," Underwood said. "It is all about confidence, that is all it is. Now I have it back and I am just trying to play at a high level every time I go out there."

The final match up of the season for Rutgers is in the International Bowl against Ball State. The Cardinals have an opportunistic defense that will take advantage of an opposing team's mistakes.

Both cornerbacks for Ball St. have recorded at least four interceptions this season and Underwood understands that the Scarlet Knights will have to play their best game to come away with a win.

"We know that they have a pretty good defense," Underwood said. "The secondary for sure are ball hawks. You can't have a lot of tipped balls and you got to be precise on your routes. We can't make mistakes. It is all about protecting the ball."

Underwood is excited to get back on the field and play the final game of the season.

"Personally, I am just looking forward to the game," Underwood said. "Coach [Schiano] always tells us ‘don't wish away time.'

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