"Getting ready to go on the road to West Virginia," Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano said at his weekly press conference Monday. "Our first Big East game and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
After three straight home games, the latest of which ended favorably for the Knights (1-3), they finally head to the road. This week they prepare for conference rival West Virginia (2-2), which has never lost at home to Rutgers. But the Mountaineers defend their turf with new coach, Bill Stewart, who replaced Rich Rodriguez.
"I think very similar," Schiano said, when asked to compare the Mountaineers under Stewart, the former WV offensive coordinator, and Rodriguez. "Their offense is a little bit different with a new coordinator and some new coaching, but still doing a lot of the same things, utilizing Pat's talents.
"Defensively they're very much the same because the coordinator remained the same. I think it's very much a similar operation with a couple of tweaks here and there."
When reminded that he was 0-7 lifetime against West Virginia, Schiano tried not to overanalyze the drought.
"It's disappointing, right?" he said. "You'd like to have somebody not have your number. Again, not to over-utilize it, but it is what it is. Nothing you can do about it except Saturday."
In addition to the coaching changes, which Rutgers also dealt with in the off season, both programs lost key personnel, including Ray Rice, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmidt.
Yet both programs recruited talented athletes, who have already contributed to their success. Speedy West Virginia tailback Noel Devine, who averages 6.5 yards per carry thus far, really impressed Schiano on film.
"Noel Devine reminds me of a guy that I had the opportunity to coach against in the National Football League and that's Barry Sanders," Schiano said. "He starts and starts with that kind of quickness and he makes people miss. I was just watching tape before I came in here and he had a run against Marshall where he had to make six people miss, and it covered the entire field width-wise.
"He is a phenomenal athlete."
In the meantime, redshirt freshman Jourdan Brooks leads the Knights in rushing attempts, yards and touchdown runs. Joe Martinek, another second-year rookie has also contributed, gaining 61 yards on 8 carries in his collegiate debut.
But Schiano focuses on defending against Mountaineers the versatile Pat Brown, a mobile quarterback who throws and runs in stride.
"You get more looks at it on tape and you get more off-season study on it," Schiano said of West Virginia's offensive schemes. "But I don't think it's the spread so much as Pat White and Noel Devine. Pat White has been a premier player in this country for quite a few years in college football."
He also addressed the Mountaineers' defensive approach.
"Defensively, they know what they want to do," Schiano said. "They run a little different scheme in the 3-3-5. They've been good for a lot of years on defense."
With three more practices left on schedule until Saturday's conference opener, Schiano said his team is improving and making strides.
"Are we getting better? I've said it all along, we're getting better," he said. "You just keep striving to get better. We'll get better this week. We've got four practices, one we already did. We've got three more left. We'll get ready."
Schiano Looking To Correct Miscues
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