"I love taking the team on the road for the first time because it's just you and them," Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano said in his weekly press conference Monday. "The first one is especially fun because you're traveling away from Rutgers for the first time, and then when you take the field you're the enemy."
Although he enjoys seeing the small section of Scarlet and White, which will likely be filled against Navy on Saturday, Schiano prefers the local atmosphere.
"There's that strip of red in whatever stadium we're in, but to everyone else is against us," he said. "I think that's fun. But there's nothing like playing in Rutgers Stadium.
"I think it's a great place to play and I would play 12 games here if it were allowed."
The Scarlet Knights (0-2) have failed in both contests here, but the eighth-year coach remains confident about the opportunities that await his team.
"I believe in the coaches and players we have. I don't think we're far off," Schiano said. "Football games are weird; they take on a life of their own. What we have failed to do is take advantage of our opportunities. Every game has opportunities, if you take advantage it's a close football game and you have a chance to win it…"
Especially after halftime. Well, specifically in the 31-0 third-quarter margin opponents have handed Rutgers this season.
"The second half the game has gotten away from us," Schiano said. "We were certainly in position to play competitive football against two solid football teams and we didn't do that. I believe in our guys and our coaches and I think we will do that, we'll start to do that and do it more consistently."
That also means quarterback Mike Teel must regain his confidence after two contests in which he netted one touchdown pass and five interceptions, certainly subpar numbers for a fifth-year senior and third-year starter.
Despite repeated questions about the Don Bosco Preparatory High School graduate, Schiano expressed confidence in Teel.
"Mike is the best quarterback in our program right now," Schiano said.
At least for now.
"Maybe there will be a young guy that someday will be better than Mike. You hope you keep recruiting better and better players. But today and for this season Mike Teel is our best quarterback."
Schiano believes that Teel will overcome the early season struggles.
"He is going to play great this year" he said. "He is having a tough stretch just like the entire team is having a tough stretch. The players look to him as their leader. I don't think they are rallying around him, I think they are looking to him for leadership and I think he's supplying it."
The ball remains in Teel's court against the U.S. Naval Academy next Saturday in Annapolis, against a team that allowed 317 yards in the air to hapless Duke and, more importantly, 326 to Ball State, RU's opponent in the 52-30 International Bowl win last season.
Schiano expects to rotate the running backs like last game and keep Jourdan Brooks in the mix, depending on Kordell Young's knee, but not make significant changes in the depth chart, just in "play numbers."
"I think offensively, it won't be as much changes as it will be other guys," he said. I think we will continue to play a couple guys at the tailback position; we'll have to see how Kordell Young is health-wise and how he'll do in practice. Jourdan did a nice job for us and I think he deserves to up the ante a little bit with carries.
"We won't make major changes, just changes in play numbers."
Greg Schiano Press Conference
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