Day-After Notes: OL, Protecting Savage, etc.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano held his day-after-the-game teleconference, and was on it to get his thoughts after watching the film of Thursday's 31-0 win against Norfolk State. Schiano talks about whether changes are coming on the offensive line, the running game, fielding punts, the freshmen, Kordell Young's future and much, much more.

Less than 12 hours after Rutgers opened the season with a 31-0 victory against Norfolk State, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano already reviewed the game film and gave more thoughts about what transpired.

One important aspect is Rutgers didn't get beaten up during it, prompting Schiano to say "We came out of it pretty good. It was a physical game, but nothing major."

Looking offensive

The offensive line's play was a big factor in the game, especially since Rutgers could not run the ball consistently in the first half and led only 6-0 at intermission.

That Rutgers finished with 268 rushing yards was misleading since it accounted for 84 yards on 23 carries in the first half, and opened the second half by getting stopped on a fourth-and-1 Joe Martinek run.

Right tackle Art Forst
"We need to run the ball more efficiently early in the game when we want to run the ball," Schiano said. "We didn't do that. At the end of the day, I don't worry a ton about the numbers if I feel we can run the ball when we wanted to, and I didn't feel that way early on."

Schiano said it may be too early to start looking at changes along the offensive line.

"We have some young guys that I think are going to get better and better with (Antwan) Lowery and Betim (Bujari) and guys like that. Devon Watkis is coming on. I just mean that we'll have some depth and the best will play.

"In watching the tape, it's too early to say if we're going to make personnel changes. We have to give them a chance to correct this and slow ourselves down a little bit."

Another factor was Norfolk State's 3-4 defense, which Rutgers didn't spent a lot of time on in training camp because few teams early in the season will play that formation.

"We had run-through linebackers that we didn't pick up, and you can't allow that to happen," Schiano said. "Regardless of what happens, we have to get our pads down and run through the tackle as well. So, it's a combination."

Schiano added Rutgers played too fast along the offensive line. "I think we were a little ahead of ourselves," he said. "We tripped once when we were pulling. We were rushing. …It almost looked as if guys were a little hesitant at times to not miss somebody instead of being physical and knocking them off the ball.

"At times I didn't think we played physical enough, and then at other times we did. I thought we had some really physical line play."

Protecting Savage

Although quarterback Tom Savage was sacked three times, a few of them came when he held the ball looking for an open receiver. The inability for him to find an open receiver also caused him to run a few times, and absorb some hits, a dicey proposition given the only other healthy scholarship quarterback is true freshman Chas Dodd.

Quarterback Tom Savage
"(Savage) did get hit a little more than we'd like, for sure, because I don't want him to get hit at all," Schiano said. "One time we made a mistake. It was an assignment error, where he got walloped. Other than that, there were some times people were covered and he decided to run.

"We just have to be smart when we run. He got walloped one time on the sideline there. I don't know. It's close, but let him play if it's close, is what I think."

Special moments

Fans weren't the only ones who noticed too many punts hitting the ground rather than being fielded. Troy Muenzer punted 10 times, one was blocked, one was deflected and two were returned by Mason Robinson.

"I don't ever question decision making during a game because you don't want guys out there, second-guessing," Schiano said. "When we watch it on tape, we'll talk about, ‘What were you thinking?' and hopefully next week we'll be better.

"Unless it is really a misdirected punt, your goal is to really field them all. Now, not at the cost of turning the ball over, but we have to get a little better at that."

Kordell Young's future

Senior running back Kordell Young was in attendance but not dressed for the game as he sorts out personal issues and decides whether he will play this season.

"We'll talk later this weekend and we'll see," Schiano said. "I love the (guy). I just want him to do what's best for him, and the people that count on him. We'll see where that goes."

Freshmen Five

Rutgers played five true freshmen – quarterback Chas Dodd, defensive end Marcus Thompson, receiver Jeremy Deering, running back Jordan Thomas and Burjar – and that was the plan.

DE Marcus Thompson
"Those are the guys we planned on getting in the game," Schiano said.

The most interesting one to play was Thompson, who was moved from linebacker a week ago and made two tackles in limited duty.

"Marcus has got a lot to learn, but we want to get him on the field some place where he can help us," Schiano said. "Not sure where that is yet, but we're going to keep working on that."

Looking For Improvement

Time and again coaches talk about the biggest leap improvement a team makes comes between the first and second game, and with a young team, Schiano thinks that is the case even more with the Scarlet Knights.

"You're able to show them where we didn't do the things that we planned to do and why that happened," he said. "Then you go out on the practice field and try to get it corrected."

Rutgers returns to action Sept. 11 at Florida International. Kickoff is 8 p.m.

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