On Wednesday Rutgers held its first scrimmage of camp and the coach said it was a "decent" effort by his players in the team's first tune-up. While Schiano was impressed with certain aspects of the game, he said they're still a few steps away from where they want to be for the opener against Fresno State.
"[There was] a lot of good stuff," Schiano said. "[We're] just inches away from doing really good stuff. Offensively, on a few running plays we were just one block away. Defensively we missed a few opportunities.
"We need to get better. We need to find a way to fix those things that put us just a little off."
The positive from that is that the mistakes are small and can be fixed through more repetitions in pads. Schiano said there's just one thing on each play such as a missed block and there's no instances of a cluster of mistakes on one snap.
He also stressed preciseness in the second scrimmage. This week of practices is an important week because both sides of the ball need to get comfortable with the plays that have been installed.
"This is a big week right now," Schiano said. "We have to rehash what we put into week one and start to feel some kind of familiarity with it."
One thing that will be big as they approach the second scrimmage is establishing an identity on offense. There's been some discussion of the Knights becoming a team that sets up the run through the pass, rather than Schiano's conventional run first philosophy.
The rushing attack is expected to be down after losing the greatest running back in school history in Ray Rice and the passing game has fifth-year senior Mike Teel throwing to All-Big East wide outs Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt along with a potential all-conference tight end in Kevin Brock. What situations the offense is put in decides how they balance the pass and the run, Schiano said.
"You can't force it," he said. "Opportunities are what balance the offense, not necessarily the yardage."
Schiano likes what he's seeing from the pass-protection, but stressed that the running game will also give the quarterback more time if the backs can be effective.
Chris Paul-Etienne has distinguished himself from the other quarterbacks in the coaches' eyes and could make a jump up on the depth chart. Schiano said Etienne has worked hard and has earned the chance to take more snaps.
"We're going to give him opportunities," he said. "He's kind of set himself apart from the rest of the pack to compete, so we have to give him a chance."
Regarding the backs, Kordell Young and Mason Robinson are still tied in the race for the starter's spot. Kordell Young did make a good case for the run game with two long runs that included a 60 yard touchdown scamper.
Mason Robinson played a limited role in practice yesterday day and Schiano said he will be okay. Dennis Campbell, who didn't play in the scrimmage due to a tweaked hamstring, will be out for another day or two.