Sunday morning Schiano

The day after the thrilling last-minute win at Connecticut, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano talked with reporters to review the game. He reflected on one of the craziest finishes in his coaching career, talked about the "worn down" defense and the need for the offensive line to give a better effort, and also updated the injury situation.

Given a night's sleep and 16 or so hours to digest what transpired the day before, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was still amazed about what happened in the final minute of the 28-24 win at Connecticut.

From the Huskies taking the lead on a 2-yard fourth-down touchdown run with 38 seconds left, to Scarlet Knights receiver Tim Brown's 81-yard touchdown reception with 22 seconds remaining -- all with the emotional backdrop of Brown's best friend and UConn cornerback Jasper Howard being killed two weeks ago -- Schiano was in a reflective state.

"I've been coaching 21 years,'' Schiano said Sunday morning. "I don't know if I've ever been part of a finish like that. Not just that we scored, but they scored, then we scored. It was a weird game.

"How many times do you see both teams return a kickoff for a touchdown? And the score changes in the last 40 seconds of the game. People seem to always talk about the Rutgers-Connecticut games. Well, they always seem to be right down to the last second.''

Brown admitted to riding an emotional rollercoaster since Howard's death, and was overcome by the moment.

Schiano said he spoke to Brown, but also believes his senior receiver needs time to absorb everything.

"Tim and I have talked,'' Schiano said. "I think sometimes when you make too much of it …you have to let people have their space. We talked about it, and if he needs me, he knows I'm there for him.

"But I think right now he has to deal with it in his own way, and I think yesterday will hopefully bring some closure to him as well.''

Offensive line woes
Rutgers' rushing attack netted 86 yards on 31 carries, and the biggest indictment of the stagnant running game was the decision to run the "wildcat'' package with receiver Mohamed Sanu taking snaps on the Scarlet Knights' next-to-last possession, and with them trying to protect a four-point lead.

"I don't care how we run it. If we run it with the wildcat or we run it out of the ‘I' backfield,'' Schiano said. "It really doesn't matter to me, so long as the effectiveness is there. We're not running the ball great right now, for a lot of different reasons. …We've run the ball effectively at times, but not consistently.

"We're trying to find a way, the best way, to run the ball consistently. Whatever it is, I don't really have a favorite. I just want to run the ball and gain yardage.''

As for the play of the offensive line, which committed four penalties and couldn't muster a consistent push, Schiano acknowledged more is needed.

"We need to play better. That's for sure,'' Schiano said. "Penalties are killers. One is an illegal alignment. We just can't do that. We've had better days, better efforts, but it's a good front. You have to tip your hat to Connecticut. They have a good defensive front eight.''

Wearing down defensively
Rutgers defense was on the field for 86 plays, which was 30 more than the offense ran, and that contributed greatly to the Huskies scoring 14 points and amassing 221 yards in the fourth quarter.

"We played too many plays defensively,'' Schiano said. "We got worn down. In watching the tape, we missed some tackles that we weren't missing earlier in the game. We were doing a great job on the line of scrimmage earlier in the game, and then we started to get knocked back a little bit.

"We need to make sure we look at some things and evaluate how we're going to sub, and those kinds of things, if we get into a game like that.''

Injury concerns
Schiano said he wouldn't know the extent of the injuries to free safety Zaire Kitchen (knee) and Khaseem Greene (leg) until the players reported Monday. But if both were going to miss the Nov. 12 game against South Florida, sophomore Patrick Kivlehan and freshman Duron Harmon are next in line.

"I'm concerned because I don't know what it is,'' Schiano said. "When I do know I'm going to be either really concerned, because if (Kitchen and Greene) can't play, that is certainly a big issue. But I'm going to wait and see what the doctors say, and go from there.''

Meanwhile, Schiano said expects offensive linemen Caleb Ruch (ankle) and Desmond Wynn (shoulder) to be ready to play the Bulls.

This week's schedule
Rutgers will practice Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and Schiano said Thursday "we'll do some things with maybe our young guys, but not a formal practice.''

The Scarlet Knights will begin preparing for South Florida on Saturday.

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