Rutgers Travel to WVU for Big East opener

This weekend Rutgers (1-3) will open up the Big East schedule against the defending conference champions, West Virginia (2-2).

Rutgers opens up its conference schedule this weekend against the defending Big East Champions, West Virginia.

The Mountaineers come into the game with a 29-4-2 career record against the Scarlet Knights, including a 15-0 mark at home.

Despite WVU already posting two losses, Head Coach Greg Schiano knows his team will have their hands full playing in Morgantown.
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"They're a very talented football team," he said during Monday's Big East Teleconference. "Pat White is obviously a spectacular player and he's surrounded by very good athletes. It's going to be a challenge trying to slow them down. Defensively, they've got some guys who seem like they've been playing forever, and they certainly do a great job."

What will make the week of practice more fun for Rutgers is the 38-0 shutout over McNeese State last week. The defense allowed just eight first downs and only 105 yards of total offense. After failing to create a turnover for three weeks, the Knights were able to force four, all leading to points.

"It was a good win," Schiano said. "Anytime you can keep someone else from scoring points, it's an even better win. We were pleased with that. We moved the ball well, which is good, but there are a lot of things we need to work on.

Offensively, the Garden State group received a big jolt from running back Jourdan Brooks. In just his second career start, he rushed for three touchdowns - putting the game out of reach early. Schiano is looking forward to seeing Brooks in action more because he said the back from Germantown, Md. hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential yet.

"Jourdan's getting better," he said. "He's a very talented young man. He's a redshirt freshman, so he's got a lot of upside in front of him. He's starting to understand the runs a little bit better and he's starting to read things better. I think there's still a long way to go there, which is exciting."

Fifth-year quarterback Mike Teel also was solid, throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown in over two quarters of action. This game brought the senior signal-caller back on track to what many expected him to be as a player.

"Mike's struggled a bit with turning the ball over, but he made a big step this week," Schiano said. "He made good decisions and he threw the ball better. We're just trying to give him as much help as we can. He's been highly successful and highly productive at Rutgers in the past. He's hit a little slump and he's playing his way out of it right now."

WVU is also coming off a win, beating Marshall 27-3. Mountaineers Head Coach Bill Stewart is very impressed with the Scarlet team coming in this weekend, saying they could create some problems for his group.

"They have team speed they have on offense with Britt, Underwood, and the fifth-year senior Brock," he said about the offense. "I've always been a Mike Teel fan, and I always will be. He's a heck of a player, heck of a competitor. They've got skills. Their line has done a terrific job, they look a lot like ours, they started off slower than they wanted to.

"The Morgan State film was very impressive. I worry very much about them; they have great talent, their size, and their big, big men."

Stewart was also impressed with what he's seen from the Knights defense. They're returning eight starters on defense, and from what he's seen from them the past few years as the WVU offensive coordinator, he knows they can throw a wrench in his offense.

"Their defense is a big defense," he said. "They have some veterans up front; they have a line with two seniors. I like their linebackers. Kevin Malast has always been a problem against us, and D'Imperio is a tough kid and really good player. I remember them because I've been on the offensive side of the ball here forever. I have great respect for the Rutgers defense. I think their secondary is playing well. I think they have a fine strong safety, Joe [Lefeged] is a good guy, and their corners are good."

The beginning of the season was rough for Rutgers, but they got the bounce back win they needed before they started playing the games that count. In Schiano's opinion, that's just what they needed.

"When you lost three consecutive games, a victory gives the guys the feeling in their belly that you need," he said.


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