"We weren't able to crack South Jersey," Schiano said after Thursday's practice, recalling disappointment from the 2005 season.
But Schiano continued.
"And then it started. And now, for the last three years, I think we've got the best players in South Jersey, which tends to be key because there's such good football down there."
Ryan Blaszczyk, fourth-year center, leads the group of starters from that region which encompasses eight counties.
Jack Corcoran, fullback, and Ryan D'Imperio, middle linebacker, natives of Atlantic City and Sewell, respectively, have also joined the Scarlet Knights' organization within the last few years.
"I think his whole game's gotten better," Schiano said of Corcoran, a junior. "I think his understanding of our offense; physically, he's improved; being consistent."
Meanwhile, Thursday's condensed practice reminded Schiano of the grueling training camp.
"Guys went through a long camp," Schiano said. "They got bumps and bruises, but now and from here on out, it's not gonna be very physical. It's gonna be more speed, and try to get more precise and do as much mental preparation as we can."
As the clock ticks Schiano urges his players to remain calm yet focused for week one's difficult task, Fresno State, ranked No. 25 by The USA TODAY coaches' poll.
"Yeah, we practiced today with a little more urgency, but I don't want them getting tight right now," Schiano said. "We'll have plenty of time. It's really only Tuesday of game week right now, so on a regular, traditional game week, this would be the first practice for preparation. Now, it's certainly not a traditional game week, we've had forever and a day, but I just wanna keep it smoldering."
Tackles Kevin Haslam and Anthony Davis returned and reunited the starting offensive line, which rotated some second-team reserves in their brief absence.
"Anthony's feeling better," Schiano said of Davis' health. "Kevin's now put a couple under his belt which is good. I think pretty decent. Guys are beat."
When asked about carrying his image, Schiano mentioned fight and competitor.
"Certain things I do and other things I don't," he said. "I think competitor and fight."
But, Schiano immediately offered serious advice about scholarships and balanced personality structure within the organization.
"I am the one in the program who we do decide to offer scholarships to," he said. "I think the important thing in any program is that you have a great mix of people and personalities. But when it comes to hard work and fight and competition, that's what I hope we have in common."
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