Schiano's press conference transcript

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano held his weekly press conference today. He talked about the injured players, getting ready for Texas Southern and the physical condition of offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Schiano also spoke about the offense's ability to hold onto the ball, the development of offensive lineman Desmond Wynn and much more as the Scarlet Knights come off a bye week to face Texas Southern.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano held his weekly press conference today, and here is the transcript:

On if QB Tom Savage will play:
"I hope he does. He has been practicing for two days now. I guess the only way that would preclude him from playing is if something took a turn in the other direction. Right now, he is on the way up."

On other injuries:
"George (Johnson) we will see (if he will play). I'm not sure about him yet. Caleb (Ruch) and Kiv (Patrick Kivlehan) are getting better, I just don't know if it will be this week. Charlie (Noonan) I am not sure. That will be up to the doctors. I should get a report later in the week. We practice tomorrow, we will see. Zaire (Kitchen) is going to practice tomorrow."

On whether he will play the injured athletes:
"Whoever is cleared by the doctors is going to play."

On recruiting during the bye week:
"I thought it went well. We were able to get to a lot of places, to a lot of different games. We saw a lot of players that we wanted to see. I will let you know on signing day how the recruiting went. Actually, I will let you know three years after signing day how the recruiting went. But it was productive."

On Texas Southern:
"They are interesting in that they have so many Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision) transfers. I do not know what the exact number is, but they have a bunch of guys that have not played together. They started the season out, and then had a chance to learn off game tape, and then had a week to get ready for us, just like we did.
They do a lot of things offensively, which makes it hard to match-up and know exactly what they are going to do. We are not going to know what they are going to do, so we have to be fairly generic and try to figure it out as we go. Defensively, they are an aggressive group.
They do some traditional things, but they also do some blitz things that are a little different. They will get in the bear defense. They do a bunch of different things.

Both offensively, defensively, and in the kicking game, there is a lot to get ready for. They do some unusual things. They're PAT/field goal team is a little different. We have seen it before, but it is a little different. Some of the things in the kicking game (is a little different). We have a lot of preparation to do between now and Saturday.
When you see a group of talented transfers that haven't quite meshed yet, the concern is that this is the week that it all comes together. They have a quarterback who is very athletic. He is a big kid that can throw the football, as well as run it. We need to make sure we get ready to play Rutgers football. That is our concern, it always is, but we are not exactly sure what we are going to get."

On if there will be any personnel changes:
"There is constant competition at the other corner spot. Back-ups and depth positions in the secondary. Linebackers should remain the same. Defensive line, it all depends on the health situation how we juggle the two-deep. Offensive line – I would like to go with the same group if they are well.
Tight end position is in constant competition. Running back – we have two, perhaps three guys that can be the first and second down guy, and then hopefully, Kordell (Young) will be our third down guy if he feels well. After the first two wide outs, it has been open competition.

We are still waiting for someone to take a hold of it. I think it is the same as it has been, but there is still some indecision. Not because I want there to be, we just need someone to reach up and take a hold of it."

On Desmond Wynn:
"I think he is getting better. I think he is a physical player. I think he is improving. There are still so many things that are new to him. He was a defensive lineman that just moved over not too long ago. He is getting it, but his natural ability and his willingness to work right now are what are carrying him, because he does not have a whole lot of experience to call upon."

On bye week practice:
"I think it was very good. We had two main goals. One, looking back what we have not executed very well, and to clean that up. Some of that is fundamental techniques, some of that is understanding the scheme.
Then looking forward, to the next four weeks, was there any unusual things that we had to prepare for schematically. The one that jumps out at you is Army's offense and defense. We did a little of that preparation. But last night moving forward, we are totally locked in on Texas Southern and that is all we are thinking about."
On Kordell Young:
"Kordell (Young) is doing well. His issue is that we need to keep him limited. I don't want to get into him doing more and more because I think it could turn him backward. I think right now, it is just right. He will continue to be our third down back and our substitution back and we will go from there."

On if this will be Young's permanent position:
"You don't know. I think the chance he'll have is to build some stamina by doing this and then we will take it as it comes."

On difficulty keeping Young limited:
"I think in what we are doing, like I said, is the right mix for now. He is getting plenty of work, but not too much."

On if this game matters because it doesn't count toward bowl eligibility if Rutgers wins:
"I hadn't even thought about that until you brought it up. What matters to me is that we have to get better. As I have said many times, the exams count more than the quizzes. Practices are a quiz and the games are exams. We need to make sure that we come out and prepare this week and then go out and execute on Saturday, because no matter who you are playing, it is really only about your team. You can't control the other team."

On if the squad is close to playing Rutgers football:
"No. I think we are a team that is going to take the better part of the year to come close to being what we want to be. I don't know how many teams aren't that way. There are not a lot of teams that start the year loaded and ready and are making tiny improvements, if any at all.
I think we can get a lot better. We have to do it. My reality and my vision are two different things right now. We need to get better to fulfill the vision of what the 2009 team can be. We are trying awfully hard. Our players are working their tails off, and our coaches are, so we need to just keep doing it."

On if game plan will change in third and fourth quarters:
"As a coach, you prepare and we always do computer breakdowns and those kind of things – when teams are up by 21, down by 21. We know what to expect in those situations. Other than that, we don't change."

On head coach Johnnie Cole rebuilding the Texas Southern program:
"I don't know if empathize is the right word. People who enjoy that, they enjoy it, so I think he certainly is moving that program in the right direction and they are recruiting their tails off.
I look at the tape and see guys that are really good football players. When that football team meshes, because they have a lot of guys coming from all different places, they are a very talented team.
They have made some mistakes. They have turned the ball over some, and that is what has gotten them. But when they don't turn the ball over, they are an effective team, and a talented football team. That has not gone unnoticed by me or any of the other coaching staff. Our players will be watching them starting today and it jumps off the tape pretty quickly."

On what Coach Schiano would like to see done better this weekend:
"I think in getting better, we will see things we have not seen. We will block better, if we get better. We will tackle a little bit better, if we get better. Here are the goals, here is the vision, you have to go out and do it. I'd rather not talk about it much, and go out and do it."

On any specific position:
"Just the ones that you all have been talking to me about the past couple of weeks. The wide receiver position – we would love someone to jump up. The tight end position, if we can get more productivity in the run blocking, that would be big.
The offensive line is starting to come together a little bit, but we need to be better. Defensively, we gave two big plays in the pass game against Maryland. We are trying to get that remedied – some of it is technique, some of it is scheme. There is plenty.
In the special teams, for the first time, I wasn't overly thrilled with our kickoff coverage team. They got a little more than I thought. Granted, he (Torrey Smith) is a very good returner. But when you start series outside the 30, that is not a good thing."

On if that warrants a personnel change:
"I think with anything – offensive, defense, or special teams – you have to identify is it the same guy over and over again. If it is, then you really have to consider making a personnel change. It wasn't. What we need to do is make sure that we continue to teach.
I think that is one of things, as I mentioned fundamental development, we really worked hard at that – breaking it down into smaller pieces and reteaching the little things, just to make sure. I thought we were doing quite well in the first three games and then we weren't quite as good in the fourth."

On what he needs to see from the offensive line:
"I think just play better. I know that is boring, but really that is what we need to do. We need to sustain the block for another step. We need to finish on the guy that we are assigned to block and not have him running away from us when the whistle blows, because if he is running away from us, he can be a part of the play.
When you run the football, you don't always have every guy blocked. Sometimes there is a safety, or a corner that is not blocked, and that is the running back's job. But our whole staff wants to get it to that unblocked guy and let's see what we can do. We need to just keep working on that.
Then pass protection, we need to work on that. Our quarterback has been hit too much. We need to get better. Again, I say that, but those are just statements of fact. Our guys are working their tails off to get better. If we get better, that is what you will see.
You will see the quarterback getting hit less, you will see running backs getting to that unblocked defender more often and they will have the opportunity to make them miss or run them over. If we get better, you will see."

On importance of the scout team:
"Once the season starts, the scout team is paramount. Two things, they need to be precise and in that I mean they need to run the scheme the way we are going to see it on Saturday. When you practice against a scout team that is not precise, you are really developing some bad habits because you step one way, and then on game day, it is not the way you thought it would be.
And the other thing is they have to bring great effort. In certain situations, you really have a guy that you put a star on. We need this guy. This guy is a disruptive factor defensively, or this guy is a huge playmaker offensively.

We need that guy to really shine on the scout team because that is what he has done to other teams before us. Sometimes a guy gets a big assignment that way, and we try to build that up.
The level of your scout team – how hard they practice, how hard they play – does have a direct correlation on how well you practice that week. We spend an awful lot of time educating the scout team and then trying to motivate the scout team, because it can become a little bit of drudgery when you are not running your offense or defense, you are doing someone else's.
When they do well, that means the coaches aren't happy, because that means the team that we are trying to get ready to play on Saturday isn't doing so well. I think the guys who are handling the scout team are doing a great job, and I try to do a great job of complimenting them when they do things right because it is a little bit of a thankless job.
Each week that we win we award a Scout Team Player of the Week and they are recognized. We try to make a fuss about them because they are a critical part of the whole operation."

On Rutgers' low number of turnovers in 2009:
"I think Coach (Kirk) Ciarrocca and the offensive staff are doing an excellent job of really emphasizing that. Right now, that is who we are. If we can hold on to the football, we have a chance to win. So we are taking less chances, knowing that if we do that, hopefully we will not turn the ball over. You mentioned it, that is what got us in the opening game.
You would like to see what the game would have been if we didn't turn it over three times in the first half and get it to the third or fourth quarter, where it's still a game. You look across the country – and this week I didn't get to watch a lot of games, but I watched a few and I listened to more, updates and things – it never fails.
If you are turning the ball over at this level, it makes it awfully hard. I don't believe in jinxes, but we better make sure we take care of the ball or it will happen. Defenses are so well trained right now to go after the football and you see it every week. People are ripping at the football, and not just slapping at it, they are going for the ball and grabbing it out. I think that is good coaching."

On having the mindset to not turn ball over:
"I don't know. I probably shouldn't say we haven't taken many chances – I don't know if that is 100 percent accurate. You think about some things. The more you pitch the ball around, the more opportunity there is for the ball to be on the ground.
If there is one point we emphasize, it is that. It is the football, taking care of the football. If you said, ‘what is the number one core value of your offense?' It is taking care of the football.
When we don't, we are very upset because that is it. That is the number one thing. And as I tell the players, they name the game after that thing, so it's pretty important."

On if anyone has exceeded expectations:
"I think the fact that Desmond Wynn is starting at the guard position. Not that I didn't think he could, but I am glad that he is. That means he rose up. Defensively, I like the way the young kids are playing – Eric and Scott.
They were an unproven commodity, and they are playing well, so that is good. We will figure it out. We are learning about our team. We have a lot of young guys. Guys like Duron Harmon and Steven Beauharnais and Ke'Lial Glaud. You have De'Antwan Williams at tailback and Mohamed (Sanu) at receiver.
We are learning every day about those guys. I think as we learn more about them, we will be able to do more things with them and more effectively. It is definitely, as I said in the beginning, a work in progress. But it is a fun work, I think. They are a relentless group. They work very hard.
As a coach, that is what you look for. You hopefully, for them, they do a good job. Hopefully, you can do a good job for them and give them a chance."

On Anthony Davis' progression from the first game:
"Yes. I think it's not totally his fault. I think he was villianized a little bit, maybe by me. He had an issue this summer, a freak deal. He was playing basketball and someone poked him in the eye and there wasn't a lot of time where he could go full out in training, because it is dangerous with the pressure in your eye.
So that was part of why he came in heavy and not in quite the shape he was supposed to be in. I think he has worked himself into his old shape and he is playing like it. Saturday he played like a big-time Division I tackle. We need him to continue to do that for us to be good up front."

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