Getting Back On Track

Faced with adversity, Mike Teel threw for 187 yards on just 11 completions. With a week to go before conference play, he led Rutgers to a 38-0 win over Morgan State.

With Morgan State coming into Piscataway, Rutgers needed its signal caller to regain his 2007 form — where he set the school record with 20 touchdown passes.

Just a week away from Big East play, Teel came through, looking like the player that was put on the Davey O'Brien Award Watch List, throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown on just 11-for-18 passing in the Knights 38-0 route.

"Mike really performed well today," Head Coach Greg Schiano said. "He really had a grasp of what we were doing. With the exception of the interception, I thought he made no bad decisions and played well.

"It was important that Mike played well today. It's so hard being a major college quarterback and you get more praise than you probably deserve when you win, and less than you deserve when you lose. I think it was a good step for him."

While picking apart the Bears defense, the former three-star recruit from Don Bosco Prep moved up in the team's record books along the way. Teel passed six-year NFL veteran Mike McMahon in two categories: career passing yards and career completions. He moved to third in school history in passing yards with 6,790 and fourth in completions with 487.

Playing without his leading receiver, Kenny Britt, and offensive tackle Anthony Davis, Teel went to work early. He was a perfect 6-for-6 for 118 yards in the first quarter, leading the offense to touchdowns on its first three possessions. His first eight passes would be completions, a new record for him.

"It was more important to each play as an independent event," he said about the offense getting off to a hot start. "I was just reading each play out and going from there."

The biggest play of the quarter came on the legs of Teel deep in Rutgers territory. Faced with a third and 20 from the 4, he was almost sacked, but was able to pull out of the pile and scamper to the first down. The 20 yard run was a career long for the Oakland, N.J., native.

"They max dropped, the rush end stepped up in the pocket and everything was covered," Teel said about how the play developed. "I seen a little green and took a stab at it and ended up getting it. I looked up at the sideline and saw the orange marker for the first down and I said ‘I got to get that' and [Tiquan Underwood] made a block and I ran beside him to get it."

With the first four touchdowns coming via the run game, the fifth year senior quarterback decided to get a score of his own. Following a Courtney Greene interception in the second quarter, Teel connected with junior Tim Brown for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Despite senior defensive back Willie Hardemon being all-over the wide out from Miami, Fl. — drawing a defensive pass interference call — he was able to throw it perfectly over the shoulder.

"I was just doing my job and focusing on the ball," said Brown, who caught four passes for 69 yards. "I wasn't worried about him holding me. Mike just threw a great ball and the end results came up good."

For the first half, Teel led the offense to scoring drives on six of eight possessions. The offensive explosion was due to proper game preparation by the coaches Teel said. This week's game plan wasn't any different than the previous three games, but what made it work was the Knight's execution of it.

"It was just how the game plan was put together," he said. "We knew what they were going to do because we saw what made them successful, and we got what we expected. Previous weeks we had the game plan, things have been there, but we just didn't execute."

It's now time to start conference play, and Rutgers will have to go against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won two out of the last three Big East Championships and are a tough way to open the season.

Now with the three game losing streak off their hands, Teel said the Knights will head into this week of practice with high morale. They still need to fix some things, but the veteran quarterback expects his crew to be ready.

"Getting the first win is important," he said. "Now we have some confidence as we head to Morgantown to play West Virginia. We have to be ready to play against them, and we'll be ready. We still have some things to work on, but with today's win, it will be a lot more fun preparing for our next game."

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