"Not by us," Schiano said of enrolling athletes from South Jersey. "But it took four years to build the trust, and now I think our coaches and our program are doing a great job there. You're not going to get everyone but we sure like the ones we've gotten."
The 2005 class started the trend to travel north on the Turnpike and it has yet to stop running its course. Schiano referred to an old memory with Bergen Record reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala, who has covered Rutgers sports for many years.
"I think so," Schiano said. "Standing at the podium at one of those press conferences, Aditi asked me if there is anything in the class you're not pleased with. I said, ‘Yeah, we haven't been able to crack South Jersey,' and next year the guys came here."
During that time, the man at the helm of the Scarlet Knights program has fought courageously to welcome competition from all over, including nearby Delaware, where highly-rated twins Jamil and Jamal Merrell recently committed to the University.
With less than seven days until the bowl meeting with NC State, Schiano also discussed game mode and game week.
"Yeah, I think since we started preparing, just by nature, you're preparing for someone, so you're not just playing against your own team," he said. "You go against scout teams. They mimic what the opponent's doing. You're recognizing tendencies."
Schiano said he has admired the team's focus, especially during finals, but he's ready to head to Birmingham.
"I think the focus has been good throughout (finals)," he said. "I don't think that's been an issue. It'll be good. We'll have another tomorrow and then we'll get out of here. They've been at it for a while."
One area that might concern the coaching staff: the coverage unit on special teams.
"Inconsistent—really good at times, game-changing, and the not so good," Schiano said. "A lot of that has to do with our kick coverage. Sometimes we kicked it well; other times we kicked it poorly.
Although San San Te attempts extra points and field goals, his partner Teddy Dellaganna, punter, kicks the ball off at the start of a half or after offensive or defensive scores.
"We're not hung up on the touchback as long as you have hangtime as long as you have opportunities inside the 20," Schiano said. "If you stop a team inside the 20, it's great way to start your defensive series. Don't get me wrong- if we had a kid who can kick it out of the endzone—that'd be nice. Start playing on the 20 every down."
News and Notes:
Although reserve quarterback Jabu Lovelace has returned to practice since breaking his leg, Schiano said his effectiveness remains questionable.
"We'll see," Schiano said. "I think he can play but I don't think he's going to be as effective as he can be."
Schiano on the Wildcat formation: "It's like option football. You no longer have a quarterback handling the football. You have a dangerous runner. You talk about, ‘Will it be here to stay?' It was here 60 years ago. It was the single wing. They've adapted it where instead of having everybody in tight, everybody is sideline to sideline. They snap it to a single wing…One of ours this year we missed the handoff. Nobody knew we missed a handoff. They thought it was the play…All the math of your base defense goes out the window when the guy who catches the ball is a viable runner, but it can really hurt you with the run. Will people get better at it? Sure, but it will run (its course)."
Schiano on NC State head coach Tom O'Brien, who previously coached at Boston College, a former Big East school: "Well I think everybody evolves. You see the same well-coached team. They're not beating themselves. They're good in the kicking game, all the things that Coach O'Brien is known for. He runs a disciplined football team. He probably has some more speed there than he did at BC."
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