Saturday Schiano; coach discusses loss

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano talked to the media Saturday, a day after the Scarlet Knights lost to Pittsburgh 24-17 at Rutgers Stadium. Schiano addressed the state of the Scarlet Knights, the play of quarterback Tom Savage, what is holding back the offense and the problems with the kick return game. He also gave an injury update, explaining why one of the starters didn't play against the Panthers.

Even in the face of a second Big East conference loss in two tries, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano remains optimistic about the direction of the season.

The Scarlet Knights (4-2, 0-2 Big East) need to win three of its final six games to be bowl eligible for a fifth straight season, but have only two homes games remaining.

"Our goals all along is every game is a one-game season,'' Schiano said Saturday, a day after a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh. "As far as the overall picture goes, you never say never, but it will be difficult to win the league with two losses.''

Schiano said he isn't worried about becoming bowl eligible.

"I like this team,'' Schiano said. "The way they prepare is what's given us a chance to win games. I think it will get us over the top here if we keep doing it, and doing it a little bit better. That's going to be the challenge week-in and week-out.

"As far as a handle on them, I feel very comfortable with them. I think they're the kind of guys that fit in very well here.

Offensive improvement?
The difficulty of replacing the school's all-time leading passer (Mike Teel), the Big East's all-time leading receiver (Kenny Britt) and another NFL draft pick (receiver Tiquan Underwood) continues to show as Rutgers managed 17 points, although seven came after the Scarlet Knights recovered a fumble on Pittsburgh's 11-yard line. Still, Schiano is optimistic about the direction of the quarterback Tom Savage-led offense.

"I think we're getting better,'' he said. "There's still the same issues, when they rear their head, gives us problems. We protected real well at times and then at other times we got beat in one-on-one situations. Running the football …our plan was to throw more than we have. Could we have run it more? Maybe.

"Offensively, we're a work in progress. I thought there were opportunities.''

Lauding Savage
Savage was asked to do markedly more than he did in previous weeks as Rutgers game-planned to throw more than run the football.

Savage was 23 of 39 for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception, showed better pocket presence than in the last few games but also forced a few throws into coverage.

"It was a very different coverage scheme that he faced, and in a week's time he was able to capture a majority of points that need to be understood to be able to throw effectively,'' Schiano said. "Some of the things when he didn't hit routes were mechanical, which we can fix pretty quickly. ‘'

Wynn's achin' shoulder
Schiano said Howard Barbieri started at right guard because Desmond Wynn is bothered by a sore shoulder.

"We'll see,'' Schiano said. "I think he's getting better.''

Schiano did not have injury updates on other players yet, but acknowledged the physicalness of the game. "I'm sure there will be some guys that will be somewhat limited at the beginning of the practice week,'' Schiano said. "Hopefully, that will be all it is and we'll be able to get everybody (ready for Army).''

Re-visiting kick retuns
Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged had an early gaffe when he fielded a second-quarter kickoff with his knee down, which put the ball on the Scarlet Knights' 1-yard line. Lefeged also had trouble catching a kickoff earlier in the game.

Eventually, Lefeged and speedy receiver Tim Brown switched sides, and cornerback Devin McCourty also was deep to field kickoffs. "We'll evaluate and see who gives us the best chance,'' Schiano said. "Certainly, that's an area that we need to improve on.''

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