Practice Notebook: Rutgers 2nd Day in Pads

PISCATAWAY, N.J.— Several years ago, the Rutgers football program lacked enough players to fully compete in the spring practice sessions. Now, head coach Greg Schiano maintains not only enough athletes for the spring, but also several high school recruits watching from the sidelines, awaiting their opportunity to compete at this D-I program.

Schiano's current problem, on the other hand, remains finding the right combination of players on the field.

"Only 11 can play so you have to get the right 11," Schiano, a former Bucknell University linebacker, said. "That's my dilemma."

After an early Saturday morning practice, he spoke to reporters, before he welcomed recruits.

"We had a bunch of junior recruits here," Schiano said. "I'm going to go entertain them and visit with them."

Saturday became the first outdoor practice in pads, after Thursday's rainy conditions forced it indoors, in which Schiano preserved reasonable expectations.

"If we play hard the whole day and not get sloppy, that'll be a success," he said on Thursday. "I don't expect it to be real sharp the second day in pads."

What happened today?

Several quarterback snaps went awry, forcing the play-callers in an unprotected situation, diving for the loose ball.

"The CQ (center-quarterback) exchanges were sloppy, (players committed) , turnovers," Schiano said. "They played hard but were sloppy."

However, Schiano, who enters his eighth season at Rutgers, believes in his younger team, which has 15 returning starters, knowing that they're excited about the 2008 season.

"They gave efforts," Schiano said. "You start with that, and there's enthusiasm and you can build off that."

Any significant injuries?

"Some guys probably got bumped," Schiano said. "We'll check the injury report with Dave when they leave. No one I know is serious."

How did the kickers fare in the gusty winds, which Weather.com estimated between 10 and 20 miles per hour?

Place kicker San San Te missed two field goals, one wide right and the other wide left, while Teddy Dellaghana's punts landed well above the 20-yard line.

"We needed that," Schiano said of the wind. "We've had calm days when we were outside and then we were in the bubble. It was great for Teddy and San San, that severe wind."

Schiano felt "mixed" about the results, but admitted, "Teddy's been hitting the ball very well."

Mason Robinson, one of Schiano's top running backs, carried the ball in lieu of Kordell Young, who continues to rehabilitate his knee injury from last season. He seemed sharp, making a beautiful cutback move at one point.

Schiano praised his ball carriers, but also expressed some words for the defensive miscues.

"The running backs did run well, and the defense made mistakes," he said. "They did a good job of exposing those mistakes."

Overall, Schiano said the athletes seemed eager to return to the field, especially on a school-free weekend.

"They were excited," Schiano said. "It's fun early in the morning, no school, when there are no time restraints. I think they responded well."

Notes:

Schiano referred to Dave McCune, now in his seventh year as Head Football Athletic Trainer at Rutgers.

He also mentioned the team's usage of the longer play clock.

"The big things that jump out at you are the c-q exchanges and a couple of delay of games. We were working with a 40-second clock instead of a 25, which is a little different."


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