As the Rutgers football team prepares for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-shortened season, head football coach Greg Schiano began to answer some questions about it in a media conference call held on Monday morning.
Schiano, who recently began his second term as head of the Scarlet Knights, met with members of the media to field questions about the upcoming season and the team.
One of the main questions asked was about how the student-athletes and staff were adjusting to the protocols put into place due to the pandemic. Schiano commented on their efforts and seemed to understand that the virus could impact the season.
“I think the guys have done a good job,” Schiano said. “It’s definitely an adjustment and takes all of us holding each other accountable... So that is going to be key because it only takes one, as we’ve seen, and it spreads. We really have to stay on top of it and be diligent.”
Schiano was also asked to address if all the student-athletes had returned from their COVID-19 isolation period after an outbreak this summer affected more than 25 student-athletes and staff. The coach responded by saying the full roster would be released on Monday.
He also said the depth chart would be released on Oct. 19, with Rutgers having an official starting lineup just six days before its game against Michigan State.
“There are a lot of moving parts, always with a football team,” Schiano said. “Then, throw COVID in there and training camp while you are in school and then a new staff. There are a lot of variables that go there.”
With the Knights not releasing any official roster, Schiano was asked if his decision to not release one until Monday could help them against their opponents. The coach responded by saying he wasn’t trying to keep information to himself, and that the same type of confusion is there with Rutgers' opponents.
“I’m not trying to be evasive in any way,” Schiano said. “There are a couple of little things that, you know, could help us maybe ... with our opponents not knowing who to study or what to study. But, you know, we have the same thing with our opener. You know what? What’s the offense going to be? What’s the defense going to be? What are their special teams?”
Another media member asked the coach about how he has been working with his staff. Schiano brought back some staff members from his first term with the Knights, with defensive coordinator Robb Smith and linebackers coach Bob Fraser returning to Piscataway, and also brought in new coaches, including former Oklahoma State coach, offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson.
“I love our staff. The staff is a work in progress as well,” Schiano said. “The staff is a work in progress as well. Some of us have worked together, some of us haven't. I have changed so even if we worked together, I am not the same coach and neither are they. So definitely been a feeling-out process. But they bring great energy, they bring great knowledge and I think they're really good role models and mentors for our players. So, to me, that's what it's about..”
One of the last questions asked of the coach was if the Big Ten and Rutgers specifically would be able to play this season without any stoppages or missed games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Seeing the NFL's postponement of games calls into question what the Big Ten would be able to do in an already shortened season.
"Our biggest challenge, COVID-19, they’ve been doing a really good job at battling that," Schiano said. "I’ve told our team: That’s our number one opponent right now. It’s not anybody on our schedule. If you get on that plane and you don’t have your best players, it’s going to be tough. We really, really are working hard to stay healthy and stay clean of the virus. But it’s a huge challenge."
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.