Natale Adds A Spark To Rutgers' Offense

Chris Paul-Etienne got a chance against Morgan State, and now Domenic Natale saw some action against Connecticut. Head coach Greg Schiano said he was just trying to find a way to shake things up and turn things around on offense.

"We just weren't scoring points on offense," Schiano said on the move. "We were just trying to do some things: Shamar played a bunch, we were playing a bunch of receivers, and the offensive line's moved around."

There was no set time on when the move would be made. Natale was just told to have his helmet on and ready to go in at any time.

"I didn't know the exact time," Natale said. "He just told me to be ready. There was no specific, set time. You always have to be ready. Anything can happen during any game. I was ready for it."

Nerves were present, but Natale said he was happy to be out there and finally feel the rush of playing in a game again. He didn't say he went out there without being a little nervous, but through all the preparation he had done during the week, the nerves were more subdued.

"You try not to think of the butterflies," he said. "You just go out there prepared, so when you're out there you're not panicked, it's just relaxed. You're out there the past six days working hard, so [during the game] you're just out there playing.

"Obiviously there were some nerves out there, but you need to play through them."

He heard the boos sent in the direction of Mike Teel, but Natale said he has the upmost confidence in the fifth-year senior quarterback and his ability to lead.

"Obviously I hear it," he said. "He goes out there, and for the last few years, he's done what he's had to get done. I respect what the guy's done, he's been our leader, but I guess it's their decision to do that."

They would talk with each other during the game to spot out things that maybe the other quarterback might not have seen from the sideline, or vice versa.

"He'll come back and ask me what kind of coverage I saw, or what he thinks he saw," Natale said. "Sometimes you can't see everything, so we try to help each other out."

Natale is in the situation every other backup quarterback in the history of football has been in when the starter has struggled, he's become the fan favorite. When fans aren't booing the only coach to win a bowl game in school history, they're booing Teel. He said the sentiments are nice, but knows as is always the case, if he doesn't do well they will boo him too.

"But you have to go out there and do your job because if you don't, it could be you who they're booing," he said. "It's nice to hear, but I don't look at it past that. I just go and do my job."

His biggest play when he converted on a fourth-and-two. He scrambled to the left and dove, beating a lunging UCONN defender, to the marker.

"I knew if Jack [Corcoran] wasn't there immediately, I was going to have to get it somehow," Natale said on the play that was originally a pass. "The pass wasn't there immediately, so I pulled it down to see what they were going to do, so I just put my head down and ran."

Overall, Natale wanted to show his teammates that he could go out and play if given a chance.

"The one throw I would like to stay back was the deep out to Dennis," he said. "But I just wanted to show the guys that they haven't seen me play in the last two years, and I wanted to show them that they can trust me to do the right stuff."

When asked if Teel should still be the starter, Natale said he's the leader and should be the man running the ship.

"He's the leader of our football team right now," he said. "He's our offensive captain, he's doing everything to get a win for us."

He doesn't know how much playing time he's earned for next week's game against Pittsburgh, but if his number is called, Natale said he will be ready.

"We'll see," "I'll come in tomorrow, watch this [game on tape], and start working on next week and if the game plan calls for it, I'll be ready."

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