Tying up loose ends before kickoff

With the confidence level and subsequent letdown going into last season's opener on Labor Day against Fresno State, it's understandable that some fans may be nervous about Cincinnati.

With the confidence level this year so similar, with a strong corps of returning players and impressive play from select newcomers, the parallels are similar enough to make anyone nervous.

But if there's one thing that head coach Greg Schiano knows, parallels or no parallels, it's impossible to predict how a team will come out for the first game of the season.

"What I've learned over the years — I used to think I'd know how we were going to play and then I read a book by Bear Bryant," Schiano said. "He said — don't quote me on it — but 20 years into it, he figured that he never could tell no matter what he thought. So he stopped trying to figure it out.

"I'm kind of like that. We just prepare as hard as we can right through the game. And I mean through the game. And how we play, that's how we're going to play. I wish I could tell you how we're going to play."

After battling throughout the spring, training camp and Cincinnati game week, it appears that junior Antonio Lowery and sophomore Manny Abreu will split time at the weakside linebacker position come Monday.

Schiano, although he said that he has decided how he will use them against Cincinnati, does not want to reveal specifics, but said that both will play.

"They'll both play, obviously," Schiano said. "It's not like Cincinnati is sitting up at night trying to figure out who our WILL linebacker is. They'll both play."

At the end of today's practice, the Scarlet Knights gathered around the 50-yard line of the grass field for a speech delivered by Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick.

"That was great," Schiano said. "He does that each year and I really appreciate it, especially with everything that he and his staff have done to elevate this program, which in turn elevates our whole university."

McCormick ended his speech with a passionate "go RU!" and a standing ovation from the Scarlet Knights.

"I'm sure he's going to take a lot of pride in Monday, when we come running out to 55,000 fans," Schiano said. "As I've said many times, if we go out and play well, that makes it all the better."

Schiano, who will likely turn to two or three quarterbacks for Monday, said that he believes teams can be extremely successful with a mix at quarterback, citing the 2006 Florida Gators.

"I think people have shown [it can be done]," Schiano said. "I mean, look at Florida. They did it with [Tim} Tebow and Chris Leak. It's been done, sure. I think as long as you have a plan and you know what you're doing and don't be reactionary toward it."


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