Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
This much is clear after today’s Rutgers football scrimmage.
The Scarlet Knights have a lot of work to do on their ground game.
“Obviously, we need to run the football better,” senior QB Mike Teel said.
“I didn’t think we did as good as we’d like to do,” added sophomore RB Kordell Young of West Deptford, N.J., who managed 8 yards on 9 carries. “There were a lot of opportunities missed out there, and we just definitely need to get better. We just have to break one more tackle, make one more block.”
“I don’t know if we missed blocks or if we defended well early on,” said head coach Greg Schiano, whose team opens the season Sept. 1 at home againt Fresno State on ESPN. “We need to run the football better, but let me watch (the tape) and see why.”
Sophomore RB Mason Robinson had 9 carries for 21 yards, freshman Jourdan Brooks rushed 7 times for 17 yards and redshirt freshman Joe Martinek carried 4 times for 37 yards (including 1 for 29). That’s a total of 29 rushes for 83 yards. Such is life in the Post-Ray Rice Era so far.
“I think our passing game is really good right now, but we just have to get the running game going,” Young said.
Asked if any of the running backs — Young, Robinson, Martinek or Jourdan Brooks — stood out, Schiano paused and said, “Um, Jabu did.” Jabu Lovelace is the backup QB, so that doesn’t bode well.
Schiano mitigated the situation by pointing out that the players “are a little tired, a little leg weary.”
“But that’s OK, we’re not playing for 12 days,” he added.
The Knights were playing without senior left guard Kevin Haslam, out with an ankle injury. Sophomore Howard Barbieri has been playing in his place.
Haslam had been part of the starting unit all summer along with Anthony Davis at left tackle, Ryan Blaszczyk at center, Caleb Ruch at right guard and Mike Gilmartin at right tackle.
“It’s tough when one of your starters goes down in practice,” Teel said. “You have to bring a new guy in, and try to shuffle him around a little bit.
“But we need to get better running the football.”
Sounding a little frustrated, Teel said his team needed to get more 2- and 3-yard gains early on.
“You don’t need to get it all on first down,” he said. “You go from 1st-and-10 to second-and-7 to third-and-five, then it’s manageable, where you can usually have a good chance of getting a first down. When you get into third-and-seven-plus, it makes it tough. Coming out, I need to be smarter with the ball.”
The QB finished 11-of-16 for 194 yards, one touchdown and one INT. The TD was caught for a short gain by Kenny Britt, who turned it into a 70-yard score. Teel’s one INT was returned 10 yards for a TD by Courtney Greene after the offense was backed up deep in the end zone.
SCHIANO ON LOVELACE AND SO. QB CHRIS-PAUL ETIENNE:
“They’re both getting better. I think Jabu brings some different things to the table with his running ability.” Schiano added that “Jabu’s the guy” as far as the No. 2 QB spot.
TEEL ON LOVELANCE AND ETIENNE
“I think Chris Paul has gotten better and better. He’s gotten more reps. He’s kind of developing as a quarterback. He’s starting to get it and know what he needs to. Jabu’s been doing some things he’s doing for three years now. He’s steady, he knows what he needs to do.”
SCHIANO ON THE 3RD WIDE RECEIVER SPOT“Timmy (Brown) keeps building equity by the way he works and he keeps his mouth shut. He’s working his way back. Hopefully we have more depth now at wide receiver than we did before.”
Schiano said he plans to institute the Fresno State game plan on Saturday, and will announce the starters on Monday.
Robinson “is playing with pain,” Schiano said. Jr. WR Dennis Campbell is also not 100 percent…Schiano said it was unclear when Haslam would return. “I think he’s going to be OK,” the coach said…Jr. WR Kenny Britt was held out of the scrimmage late. “Something’s going on,” Schiano said. “He got hit and we’ve got to see if it’s a stomach ache or what it is. We’re just checking on it.”…Redshirt freshman LB Al-Ghaffaar Lane, who played at Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, sustained an injury to his left leg and was on crutches. Schiano said he didn’t know what was wrong.
A limited number of tickets for the Sept. 27 game against Morgan State have become available after Morgan State returned some of their ticketsto Rutgers. Log on to ScarletKnights.com to purchase tickets….Schiano will do a conference call with Big East reporters on Monday…The coach’s radio show returns Aug. 27 and will air every Wednesday night from 9-10 p.m. It can be found on 710 and 1450 on your AM dial.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.