Knights Back to Practice

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Reporters, fans and critics wanted to know where this offensive explosion came from during Saturday's 54-34 win at Pittsburgh. It surely caught them by surprise.

"I'll stick to what I've been saying," Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano said after Tuesday's practice inside the Bubble. "The length of your recorder was how much we missed a few of those passes by, and for whatever reason, we didn't this time.

"Maybe it's not the pass, maybe it's the release, maybe it's the route, maybe it's the wind. I don't know. They're all little things and they happen to come together."

Not only did Mike Teel perform dutifully against the Panthers, he set passing records in the process. The Scarlet Knights fifth-year senior quarterback threw for five first-half scores and 361 yards en route to the upset win at then No. 17 Pittsburgh.

That Teel's performance earned him Big East Offensive Player of the Week and USA Today's National Player of the Week barely swayed Schiano.

"He just goes about his business," Schiano said of Teel. "That's what I love about him. He's going to prepare the same and I'm just happy for us and for him that (his big game) happened. Hopefully, it can continue to happen going forward."

The third-year starter had not thrown more than one touchdown in each of the first seven contests. Teel also had not passed for more than 300 yards this season, a feat he achieved five times in 2007.

"Oh, I think everybody needed it, right?" Schiano said. "We needed to do what we're capable of doing. It sure helps."

With the victory, Rutgers improved to 3-5, but more importantly, 2-2 in conference play, in a wide open Big East, with no clear-cut favorite.

"I don't give it a lot of thought other than the fact that it feels better to win than to lo¬se," Schiano said of the dramatic change of perception with the team's success thus far. "But no matter what, we've still got to do all of the same stuff the next week. But it does feel better.

"I'm not sitting here saying it doesn't. Does it give us a chance? Sure. It gives us a chance, until we play another game and then find out."

Defensively, defensive back Zaire Kitchen impressed the Wyckoff native coach with a timely forced fumble.

"Zaire has a knack for making plays when we need them," Schiano said. "He's the guy who intercepted that final pass in the South Florida game (last year) out of nowhere."

"There's a reason that, even when he was coming off his third knee surgery, when we were talking about depth at safety, we kept saying 'and Zaire.' He has a certain maturity about him that's different than a lot of kids his age."

Notes: Holder and backup wide receiver Andrew DePaola suffered an unknown leg injury in the last few minutes of the contest and will not practice this week.

"Yeah, the second to last play, we tried to run four-minute offense and run the clock out and somebody fell on his leg," Schiano said. "We'll see. He's not at practice this week. We'll see how it goes. I think he'll be okay."

After reviewing the game film, Schiano also liked RU's defensive adjustment on Pittsburgh's fake field goal.

"I was really pleased with our recognition on the field goal fake," Schiano said of the play that went for an incomplete pass. "I think nine of the 11 guys were pointing it out and screaming and yelling. That was really good. As a coach you like when kids are aware of what's happening."

With a bye week until a visit from last-place Syracuse, Schiano briefly addressed the issue of recruiting.

"Well, not all of them," Schiano said, indicating that not every coach on his staff will recruit during this time period. "You're only allowed seven on the road. We're going to jump back and forth. I'm going to some. I don't know how many - a bunch - but I am going to do some Friday and Saturday, actually."


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