Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano addressed the media at the Marco Battaglia Practice Complex on Busch campus today before the team's Saturday evening showdown with Iowa. Along with Schiano, sophomore defensive back Robert Longerbeam and senior tight end Johnny Langan spoke as well after practice.
While the Scarlet Knights (3-0, 0-0) won their game last week against Temple, the passing game was unable to get it going with sophomore quarterbacks Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt combining for 10 of 17 completions and a total of 59 yards through the air.
Schiano spoke about what adjustments he hopes to get out of the passing game against Iowa.
“Throw it a little more hopefully … We’re getting into the Big Ten season, so hopefully we have some things we can utilize,” Schiano said.
Through the first three games of the season, Rutgers running backs have combined for 682 yards on the ground. Schiano knows that this Saturday, the Knights will face their toughest challenge yet with the stout Hawkeyes (2-1, 0-0) defense.
“This is one of the finest run defenses in America, if not the finest," Schiano said. "They know how to play, they know what they want to do, so we’re really going to have our work cut out for us. But that’s why you line it up.”
For any run game to flourish, a team will need good blocking up front. This is no different with Rutgers.
“I think our offensive line is improving,” Schiano said. “It wasn’t our best outing (last) Saturday, but I see it in practice, and I saw it in (the first) two games… When you have a chance to at least run the football and make them defend the run, that’s going to open everything else up … Should be an opportunity for our offense.”
After Schiano, Longerbeam and Langan spoke to the media. Longerbeam credited his fellow cornerbacks for their play to begin the season.
“It’s a big group of corners that can all play,” Longerbeam said about a Knight defense that has allowed an average of 208 yards through the air in the teams’ first three games. “Everyone wants to do their part, and when your number's called, you just have to be prepared to do your job.”
Longerbeam also said that the team’s mindset has not changed as the program prepares to play its first primetime game of the season.
“We’re not really tense,” Longerbeam said. “We’re just really focused on us … being able to chop our job. That’s a big emphasis this week because they’re a good team. They got good players, so we just got to do our job of focusing on one play at a time and see where it takes us.”
On the offensive side, Langan has shown off his versatility in the passing, running and receiving games and will look to continue contributing in all ways for the team.
“This kind of position that I found myself in fits my skill set well,” Langan said. “Whatever (offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson) draws up for me, I’m going to out there and play to the best of my ability.”
Langan said he enjoys the later start times of games and believes it will be beneficial for the team.
“I like the extra time to get my body right, prepare. That extra 7 hours for me, as opposed to a noon game, I think is crucial for recovery and also really getting that game plan nailed down,” Langan said.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. this Saturday and will be nationally broadcasted on Fox Sports 1. The game will also be available to listen to on 88.7 WRSU-FM.
“It’s two very tough football teams going at it,” Langan said. “We’re both very disciplined, and I’m excited to see the battle that happens here this Saturday night.”
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