Defense Looking For First Turnover

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The early schedule clearly diverged from tradition: Monday, Thursday and, finally, Saturday in a span of 19 days. That changes this weekend as Rutgers football begins a stretch of five consecutive Saturdays.

"Pretty good," RU football head coach Greg Schiano said of Tuesday's practice. "Today's the first real Tuesday we've had, where you don't have extra time, an extra day to prepare and go over stuff. This is it. You got one Tuesday, one Wednesday, one Thursday and you go play."

The Scarlet Knights have taken this opportunity to adjust.

"I think there's an adjustment for sure on the program's part, reinstalling some things that we've done in the past," Schiano said. "But that's the way it is during the week. You have to build it as the week goes. You're not gonna have it right at the beginning.

"It was good enthusiasm. Guys worked hard."

After they hosted Fresno State (2-1) on Labor Day, the Knights (0-3) waited ten days before a visit from North Carolina (2-1, 0-1 ACC). Both contests also confronted nationally-televised audiences and sold-out, raucous crowds.

Nine days later, RU addressed the U.S. Naval Academy (2-2) on the road, again disrupting any potential routine.

Yet, Morgan State makes the trip to Rutgers Stadium this weekend, before the Knights open the Big East Schedule, every game to occur on Saturday, until another bye week in early November.

Meanwhile, the defensive units continued to practice their respective methods for forcing turnovers, something that has beleaguered them this season.

"We go to an extreme," Schiano said of the defensive struggles. "We keep track of strip opportunities and opportunities missed. To me if you continue to go after the football it'll come out eventually. We've had less lack of swarms than we've had at any time so they're playing hard and going after the football. It's just not coming out."

In addition, Navy, UNC and Fresno State quarterbacks have not miscommunicated with their linemen, backfield or wide receivers.

"We haven't had those (balls thrown to defensive players)," Schiano said. "We haven't even had the opportunity to drop some."

The optimistic eighth-year coach said to persist and positive things will result.

"You just keep going," Schiano said. "It's a good lesson for everybody. I've already been through it. I think it's a good lesson for kids- if they keep doing it, it'll turn."

Notes: Kordell Young (knee) and Pete Tverdov (ankle) are improving, according to Schiano, who also said sophomore Jonathan Freeny replaced an injured George Johnson on the D-line.

"He's a little behind them (Young and Tverdov)," Schiano said of Johnson.


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