Program Building

Head coach Rich Rodriguez believes that Rutgers and head coach Greg Schiano are building the Scarlet Knight football program in the right way.

"They have a good plan on how to build a program and they have recruited well," Rodriguez said of this week's opponent. "They have guys on their team that we tried to get to visit and couldn't. "They've also gotten a tremendous amount of support from their administration - their new facilities look first class." Of course, phrases like "sleeping giant" and "world of potential" and "if they can just keep their instate players at home" have been uttered a number of times over the past 30 years in regard to Rutgers. However, a parade of 1-10, 2-9 and 3-8 seasons had many observers convinced that the Knights would never move out of the conference cellar or become competitive.

However, in Schiano's short time at Rutgers, the team has made a number of improvements. Rodriguez believes that the Rutgers squad is more athletic than at any time in the past several years, and that another key element has come into play to allow the program to improve.

"They have a great plan from the ground up, but the important thing is that they have the support of their administration. If you are given time and money you can do it," Rodriguez said, with an emphasis on the latter. It takes a commitment from the school to get all the things the top Division 1 programs have."

In addition to the long-term view, Rodriguez also sees an improved team from the one that fought tooth and nail against his team last year. Only the gaffe of leaving wide receiver Chris Henry uncovered on the last play of the first half allowed the Mountaineers some breathing room against the Scarlet Knights.

"Rutgers is a talented team – they played us very tough last year, and we were in a battle with them at our place the entire game. They are a bit of a wounded animal because the lost their last game, so I'm sure they will be fired up to play a ranked team," Rodriguez said. "They are more athletic than they have been in many, many years. That is a concern of ours. They have guys that can run on defense and some of the best players in the league on offense."

One of those players is fullback/tailback Brian Leonard, who has a website pimping his All-American candidacy. And in truth, he probably deserves the hype, as he is a true triple threat coming out of the backfield.

"He does everything well," Rodriguez said. "He's one of the better skill players in our league. He has great hands, runs well, and is a physical blocker. Every coach in our league would love to have a Brian Leonard."


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