Spring Practice #7 Notebook

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Preparation for the upcoming football season requires due diligence and confidence. But, a swagger? Maybe not. Not even after a rather inconsistent 2007 campaign, in which Rutgers' program recorded eight wins and five losses?

Nope.

Just ask Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.

"I think that's overrated," Schiano told reporters after Thursday afternoon's practice. "When you have a swagger, you're confident because you're prepared."

The Wyckoff, N.J. native appreciates eagerness and confidence for that matter.

"It's up to them really," Schiano said. "There's a difference between losing a game and getting beat. When you get beat, a lot of times it's because you're not prepared."

The Knights lost seven starters plus their kicker after '07, but return several players with potential for career years.

Mason Robinson remains one of those competitors with the speed and agility to break down defenses.

"He had a great off-season and (he's) a very mature guy," Schiano said of Robinson, one of several running backs battling for significant time. "He's working very hard and getting better every day."

What does the true sophomore ball carrier need to work on the most?

"Overall development," Schiano said. "He came here and he's a fine football player."

What about pass blocking, by no means an easy task?

"Mason's a real conscientious guy," Schiano said. "So much of pass blocking is want to and the willingness to learn and he has both of those."

Meanwhile, the performance on special teams left a reminder in the minds of coaches and players alike that spring drills are specifically intended to correct these sort of issues.

"We didn't perform our responsibilities well," Schiano said of his special teams units, "and the flip side is that it's your team blocking it. It's saying they did the job well."

Despite the loss of Ron Girault in the secondary, Schiano holds high expectations for the defensive backs.

"Yeah, when you have experience and experience that has played well, as I told them, you need to get better," Schiano said. "If you don't get better, you get worse. The challenge has been laid there."

"Quite frankly, they lost their leader Ron Girault, the leader back there," Schiano added. "I'm anxious to see who takes control of the secondary."

Play of the Day:
I tipped my hat to Mason Robinson, whose 56-yard acceleration downfield amplified the Knights potential rushing game. No Ray Rice, no worries.

In Case You Missed It:
Wideout Kenny Britt, who joined the 2000-yard receiving club last year, returned punts Thursday afternoon.

"He's been doing that since the middle of last year," Schiano said. "We haven't done it in a game yet. He's a very good returner. Maybe, (we'll do it in games this year), because he catches them. We lost a couple of games because we didn't catch them. I want to secure the football so we can get on offense."


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