Greg Schiano Big East Teleconference

Head Coach Greg Schiano held his first Big East Teleconference of the season on Monday and addressed the Week 1 challenge against No. 25 Fresno State. With the season just seven days away, he discussed what his plans are for the running back position.

It was April and Rutgers needed a 12th game. At a coaching function, Head Coach Greg Schiano was on the phone with Scarlet Knights' people trying to figure out who he could play to get out of this dilemma.

Fresno St.'s Head Coach Pat Hill was at the same function and after a cancellation; he was in the same mess. The two coaches discussed their shared problem and decided to fix it by playing each other.

"It's not exactly what I was looking to do right out of the gate because I knew he had a very good football team coming back," Schiano said in his Big East Teleconference on Monday. "But at that point, we were trying to find a Division-I opponent and there weren't many out there. One thing led to another, they had a cancellation, and sure enough it worked out."

Now, with the season just a week away, the Knights will kick off the 2008 year against the Bulldogs in New Jersey on Labor Day. Fresno St. will come into Rutgers Stadium ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll and is coming from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), which has had Boise St. and Hawaii represent it in BCS Bowls the last two years.

"I think everybody in the country knows about Fresno State and what they've done over the years," Schiano said. "From people I've talked to that are familiar with west coast football, they say this is Pat's best team in the last 10 years so I'm not worried about making statements. I'm just worried about playing our best. I don't even know if our best will be good enough, but we'll find that out.

"I know one thing; we need to play our best to have a chance."

The Bulldogs are coming off a 9-4 season where they beat Georgia Tech, 40-28, in the Humanitarian Bowl. A.J. Jefferson is back and regarded as one of the best kick returners in the country after returning two kicks for scores and leading the NCAA averaging 35.8 per return.

Quarterback Tom Brandstater­, coming off a 2007 season where he completed nearly 63 percent of his passes and threw for 2,654 yards will lead an offense returning 10 starters. Leading rusher Ryan Mathews is back as well as Fresno St.'s top three receivers from last season where they averaged just under 33 points per game.

"Fresno is a very talented football team," Schiano said. "They have their quarterback returning and he's an excellent player; their really skilled athletes. I know their excited about their team and it's going to be a great game on opening day."

Before Rutgers is ready to get things started, they need to figure out the running back situation. After camp, Schiano said he decided to use Mason Robinson and Kordell Young as a "one-two punch" while Jourdan Brooks and Joe Martinek get some carries as well. How they will all fit into the game plan won't be decided until the players return to practice this week.

"Right now we haven't locked into what are going to be Mason's plays and what are going to be Kordell's," he said. "We're going to do that in the next couple of days and when our guys get back from their little rest they'll be dialed in for what plays are for who."

Preseason camp went well in Schiano's eyes and after a few days off, he will have his guys back on the field getting ready for the September 1 matchup.

"We were able to stay relatively healthy and the players and coaches worked very hard," he said. "Now we have a day or two here where they can regroup and then we're right in the thick of the Fresno preparation."


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