Tate will be cause for concern for RU

When Head Coach Greg Schiano addressed the media after practice on Monday, the focus was on the return game since Rutgers will be tested by North Carolina's game-breaker Brandon Tate.

Rutgers' season didn't get off to the start it was looking for against Fresno State, but Head Coach Greg Schiano said the team is moving forward and preparing for North Carolina.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't a tough loss because it was," he said. "But we're shaking that off. There getting ready to play."

To prepare for UNC, the Knights need to prepare for Brandon Tate. The senior wide receiver opened some eyes in Week 1, when he pretty much single-handily pushed the Tar Heels past upset minded McNeese State in Week 1.

It could be argued that Tate had one of the best games in UNC history. He tallied a school record 397 all-purpose yards, racking up yards in almost every way, except for throwing the ball. He rushed for over 100 yards on just three attempts, and had four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. On special teams, he took three punts for 142 yards, including an 82-yard score in the first quarter, and had a 56-yard kick off return.

Having to face a player that's so multi-faceted will pose a serious challenge to the Scarlet Knights on Thursday.

"He's a great athlete," Schiano said about Tate. "Certain kids have a feel for [returning punts]. He has the strength to break arm tackles, so you're going to have to tackle him. If the guys are off-balance and try to reach around, he'll be strong enough to run through them. Definitely a big, big challenge in the return game."

With the discussion on the all-purpose threat Tate, Schiano discussed the difficulty in returning both punts and kick-offs. In his view, punts are a lot harder because the returner has to make more snap decision.

"It takes a great athlete to return punts, not so much kickoffs," he said when distinguishing between the two. "It's just a totally different scenario. On punts, everybody is ready to hit you when you're about to catch it. The ball has a spiraling action, so it's much more unpredictable than the end-over-end action."

A punt returner needs the quickness to make the first defender miss, but they also need to project where the kick is going through a slew of players on the line.

"You need that judgement to get the jump off the punter's foot - where you can't see the punter," Schiano said. "No one is blocking the kicker and you see that thing coming right off his foot, you can get a gauge on it. Where as a punter, a lot of time you'll have a rush in the protection, catch that ball coming over the horizon and you have to judge right now. There's some guys that have a great feel for it and others that you think would, but don't."

Because it's such a hard aspect of the game to be successful at, Schiano said the first thing he does every preseason is ask the team, who has long-snapped and who's returned punts before.

NOTES
Who will kick the ball off will be the same as the first game, Coach Schiano said.


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