Greg Schiano Talks about Fresno State

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Facing several, large changes in the offseason, Rutgers football program watched Ray Rice, a 2000-yard ball carrier, proceed to the next level. But, it also welcomed back veteran quarterback Mike Teel from a lingering thumb injury.

"We have a senior quarterback, so we're certainly more apt to throw the ball this year than Mike's first year as a starter," head coach Greg Schiano said during his weekly press conference. "But as I said before, having an experienced quarterback, it's not just about throwing the ball. It's about running the offense, getting in and out of the right plays."

While Teel has steadied the Scarlet Knights' offense, starting every game dating back to 2006, Fresno State has maintained its own explosive arsenal, beginning with Tom Brandstater, himself an experienced signal caller.

Like Teel, a fifth-year senior QB, who completed 16 passes for 303 yards in a bowl win, Brandstater directed his team to a bowl victory with 285 yards and two scores (the latter of which he scampered 24 yards into the endzone).

"He's very comfortable in what he's doing. Look at his stats from last year, 63 percent completion rating, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. Those are all very telling statistics," Schiano said of Brandstater's 2007 statistics.

Despite a 6-foot-5 225-pound frame, Brandstater gained 118 yards on the ground last season, produced a 39-yard run and scored three times.

"He's mobile, to the extent that he can get out of trouble very well," Schiano said. "They don't ask him to be an option quarterback or a run-read quarterback… But when he is under pressure, he's got a great feel in the pocket and he can escape."

Moreover, when both teams compete at Rutgers Stadium on Labor Day, expect to see high-scoring, high-powered operations between the similar programs, which rarely allow sacks. (They both averaged 32.8 points per game last season).

Schiano also said the Bulldogs may attempt ‘unconventional things,' but will run the football.

"They are multiple in their schemes offensively," he said. "They shift in motion and move a ton, they do some unconventional things. But make no mistake they are going to bloody your nose and run the football, so we better match toughness play for play."

Meanwhile, Knights' tailbacks Mason Robinson and Kordell Young face the daunting task of replacing Rice, a former 2000-yard carrier, in the backfield.

"I think Mason Robinson and Kordell Young are going to be the first two guys, not necessarily in any order, just see what plays we're running," Schiano said. "Our offensive coaches do a good job of knowing this is what he does best and this is what he does best, and then try to fit that."

Schiano believes in the backs' ability to break open a tackle or burst outside with their blazing speed.

"I think they can run outside, but I think they can run inside as well," Schiano said. "They both have a good sense of inside running. I think it will be a mix, and I think it may even be a better mix than it was because we are more capable of going outside."

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, return all four leading rushers from last season, Ryan Mathews, Clifton Smith, Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding (five if you include Brandstater). This group totaled more than 2,500 yards, 30 touchdowns and disrupted defenses.

Between Brandstater and the running game, Schiano said, the Bulldogs remain well-balanced offensively.

"You talk about balance, they're balanced. Over 200 from both sides, over the course of 13 games, that's balance," Schiano said. "From knowing Pat, they're going to do what he does. He was an offensive line coach before he became a head coach, so he believes in what he believes.

"I know that they are going to come and lead up with that fullback and try to smash you, and that's what we're going to see and they are going to see that from us."

Although 2,883 miles separate the two state universities, Schiano, in his eighth season, manages to maintain a professional relationship with Hill, in his 11th.

"We've known each other," Schiano said of Hill. "He's a very good football coach and a good person. He'll bring a team here that's ready to play and is tough. I see a team there that's similar to us, schematically and the way they play."

Both systems will intervene in less than one week.

Just, Rutgers passes on its Olympic torch from Ray Rice to Mike Teel.

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