Rutgers Prepares For Another Great RB

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano rarely describes his opponents as the "total" package. When he described Pittsburgh that way after Thursday's practice, he understood the battle awaiting Rutgers Saturday.

"They're a good football, the total team," Schiano said of the No. 17 Panthers. "They've done well on offense, defense and in the kicking game."

Bill Stull has quarterbacked Pitt to a 5-1 record, 2-0 in the Big East. Though Stull's touchdown to interception ratio remains weak (4:5), his 1,283 pass yardage is fairly strong.

"Throw that in with a quarterback who gets better every week and who's been able to hit the shots, it's going to be a challenge, a big challenge," Schiano said.

While Rutgers (2-5, 1-2) organizes the blitz packages for Stull, it also prepares for yet another talented running back, LeSean McCoy.

In fact, the Scarlet Knights' defense has faced three of the nation's premier backs the last four games. Each time the unit held the opposing RB near or beneath his season low. Navy's Shun White ran for 85; Noel Devine of West Virginia a mere 55 yards on the ground; last week, Connecticut's Donald Brown, who entered with 181.2 rushing yards per game, left with 107 earned, only 7 after halftime.

Schiano admired McCoy, who has paced the Panthers thus far with 689 yards rushing, a 5.1 average and 10 touchdowns.

"We have tremendous running backs in this league but this guy- he's the complete package," Schiano said of McCoy.

But he also expressed praise towards the Panthers' receiving corps.

"They have very good receivers, three that are as good as there are," Schiano said, alluding to Derek Kinder, Oderick Turner and Cedric McGee. "That freshman (Jonathan Baldwin) is a very talented guy, but those are experienced football players that are playmakers.

"Yes, they have a great back (McCoy) but as we talked about, the best unit of receivers we'll face, probably the best tight end we'll face (Nate Byham)."

When asked if Pittsburgh is the most complete team in the conference, Schiano responded, "I'd say they are. Sure."

In the meantime, the Scarlet Knights earned an important win last weekend, as they defeated the Huskies 12-10.

Schiano expects few personnel changes against Pittsburgh.

"I think pretty much the same," he said. "I think more than five guys will play (offensive line). It's pretty much the same guys."

As well as defensively.

"Defensively, it's pretty much the way it's been," Schiano said.

Other than bumps and bruises suffered regularly in the physical sport, Schiano said his team is healthy and "guys are fighting through it."

After switching positions from LB to DE, Eric LeGrand saw action on the offensive side as a fullback against UConn.

"I think Eric LeGrand's done a nice job at fullback so we'll try to see if we can him in there," Schiano said of LeGrand who moved to FB prior to the UCONN contest. "He's done a good job blocking. He's a big guy so hopefully that can help us a little bit."

Can he do other things offensively?

"Well, we haven't really asked him do much of that yet," Schiano said of LeGrand. He's done a good job of what we asked."

Also expect to see tight end Shamar Graves, who started and earned his first catches of the season last week, Saturday.

"Shamar will play a lot again," Schiano said of the third-year sophomore. "We'll try to play all of the receivers again."

Notes:

On Friday night speakers who address the team:

"We have to plan them in advance," Schiano said.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick actually used the Hale Center to watch film and view his son on the lacrosse team a few weeks ago, according to Schiano.

"I knew he was coming and I wanted to visit with him and I asked him if he wouldn't mind speaking with the team," Schiano said of Belichick. "And he was awesome."

With forecasts in Pittsburgh for rain and wind, Schiano briefly addressed the element of weather.

"There's nothing you can do about it," he said. "We're both going to be playing in the same weather. It's how you handle it."

For someone who's personally experienced Heinz Field, home to the Panthers, and its natural grass, Schiano knows what can happen.

"If it rains, it can get bad," he said.


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