Thursday Practice report

The weather was a hot 98 degrees at ankle level for Thursday's practice, just the way Head Coach Greg Schiano likes it. After what he considered a good practice, Schiano addressed the competitions at quarterback, linebacker, running back and strong safety.

Head Coach Greg Schiano was upset about the cool conditions of the field on Tuesday. There was a big smile on his face Thursday after a field temperature of 98 degrees.

To the coach, the hot temperature hardens his players and toughens them up for the season. Rutgers also strapped on the shoulder pads yesterday, which also pleased Schiano.

"The spacing is different because it makes each guy wider," he said about the pads. "It's a compound effect [and] things get tighter. The contact is there and it's a collision sport."

The team is still a step away from going in full pads and positions won't be determined until then. That was Schiano's main point when the backup quarterback situation was brought up. Redshirt junior Jabu Lovelace has the most in-game experience of the quarterbacks and appeared to have locked up the No. 2 spot after the spring, but Schiano said "absolutely" when asked if there's a competition for the job.

"It's too early to tell, especially at that position," he said. "They need more repetitions. In the end it depends on who can do it in a game situation and who can take their team down the field."

Who the quarterback will hand the ball off to is also being fought on the field. Redshirt sophomore Kordell Young, redshirt freshmen Joe Martinek and Jourdan Brooks, and sophomore Mason Robinson are all battling to be first on the depth chart, but there also close with each other and looking to help each other improve. There togetherness is seen as a positive that doesn't deter from there competitive edge by Schiano.

"The whole group is together," he said. "The big thing is there number one concern is this team and the family here at Rutgers. Obviously there great competitors so they want personal success as well."

To the defense, redshirt junior Damaso Munoz, who was third on the team with 67 tackles last year, has been splitting time with junior Ryan D'Imperio who's returning from a leg injury sustained in the spring. Schiano said each guy has been taking turns and getting an even amount of time on the field. He also noted that D'Imperio looks "better, bigger, stronger and faster" after the injury.

"[Munoz] played 13 games as a starter at the mike last year," he said. "Ryan came back after being out in the spring and the competition is great. That's what it's all about."

Action is also heating up at the strong safety position. Junior Zaire Kitchen, sophomore Joe Lefeged and redshirt junior Davon Smart are all competing to compliment Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watchlist senior Courtney Greene in the defensive backfield.

"Zaire and Joe are doing well and there's definitely a competition," Schiano said. "Smart's also doing well and those three guys are really battling."

Smart joined the hunt after winning the Douglas A. Smith Award for most improved defensive player in the spring. Schiano said he's starting to make more plays and play with consistency.

One of the last thing's Schiano addressed was the new rule with the play clock.

"It's not much different," he said about the change. "The difference is there's no inconsistency when we play. There won't be an ACC crew one week, who ref at a different tempo than a Big East crew.

"Mike's handling it well," he said about how his offense can handle the new rule. "We run multiple shifts as a team. We use a lot of clock and aren't just a get-it-and-go type offense. We just have to make sure we have one eye on the clock."

Notes

- Greene was out for a few plays after hurting his left wrist breaking up a pass. He did return to action and Schiano said they will have an x-ray to make sure everything is alright.

- Senior wide receiver Tiquan Underwood was nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his tremendous work and volunteer time away from the football field. "He's a father's dream, a coach's dream and everything you want in a young man," Schiano said.


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