Notebook: Excitement for Pitt

Rutgers staged its last full practice before Friday's Big East tilt against Pittsburgh, and the players know it is a big game. It is the first time the nation will get to see the Scarlet Knights since they were dismantled by Cincinnati in the season opener. Players feel the excitement of the game, and also talk about the Panthers' run defense. Coach Greg Sciano also gives an injury update.

For the first time since the season opener, Rutgers hosts a game in which the outcome doesn't seem easily forecast well before the opening kick.

And the Scarlet Knights sense something is different leading up to Friday's Big East showdown against Pittsburgh at Rutgers Stadium on national television. Kickoff is 8 p.m.

"I haven't played a Friday night game since high school,'' Rutgers red-shirt sophomore running back Joe Martinek said. "So, Friday night, under the lights, a packed stadium …once you run into that tunnel it's going to be great.''

Scarlet Knights right tackle Kevin Haslam is glad to be back into the conference portion of the schedule, even if it is only for one week.

"I look at all games the same, but it's a different atmosphere and it feels different,'' Haslam said. "The crowd, the media, everyone hypes it up differently. I think it's good to play a game on Friday night.''

Running on Pitt
The Panthers defense, led by a stout front four, is 30 th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 109.5 yards per game.

"You could see how hard they work,'' Martinek said. "Their moves are on point. They don't make a lot of mistakes.''

The Panthers do it without run blitzing much. Although the Panthers don't have a history of blitzing, Haslam said it doesn't mean it is less difficult to block.

"I think it's really all the same,'' Haslam said. "Whether you're going one-on-one with the defensive end or you're picking up the blitz, there are difficulties for different reasons. It's really all the same.''

Injury update
Schiano said offensive lineman Caleb Ruch is "progressing, he's getting better,'' but did not elaborate on when he would be available. He added defensive back Patrick Kivlehan is "getting better,'' but didn't offer when he would be available, either.


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