Schiano Says LeGrand's in 'Good Spirits' | Zagsblog
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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.
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Saturday / September 19.
  • Schiano Says LeGrand’s in ‘Good Spirits’

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    Here are video and quotes from Greg Schiano’s press conference Tuesday, in which he said injured defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who is paralyzed from the neck down after getting injured in Saturday’s win over Army, is in “good spirits.”

    Opening Statement:

    “Thanks for coming out. I am willing to answer any questions that I am allowed to. I will try and help you anyway I can.”

    Any update on Eric LeGrand?

    “I have seen him every day. He is in good spirits. There is nothing I can give you one way or another. We are really going to avoid getting into daily updates. When there is an appropriate update, Jason [Baum] and the media relations office will put that out. He is very aware of what is going on.”

    They said there is usually a 72-hour window with this injury to find out more, is there any information?

    “The media relations department is going to take over the disbursement of information. I have read the same thing. Between doing everything we are doing, I have also had people researching for me and getting me information so I have read the same stuff and talked to people as well. In the end, it really boils down to nobody really knows. To use this opportunity and anybody that is listening or hearing is that I do know this… your prayers matter and all our prayers matter and that we believe that Eric is going to recover. That is our approach and that is his approach. We are going to take it one step at a time. We are not naïve to the fact that it is a long road. One step at a time we are going to do this thing and we are going to do it as a family… the LeGrand family and the Rutgers football family and that is the way we are going to approach it.”

    Some former players said you didn’t handle the incident in 2004 the way you would’ve liked, what are you going to change this time?

    “It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but anytime you have been through an experience you have learned and you are better for it. There is things I would’ve liked to have differently about Saturday so hopefully I am better for that. Dating back to 2004, there is some things I would’ve done differently and hopefully I have learned from them. I will keep them private. We have a bunch of young men that have made a huge commitment and a university and a state that have made a huge commitment. One of the things that we really talk to our players about all the time is being accountable to all the people in your life that you’re accountable to. That group is going to grow when you get older. You are going to have a wife and children and now that accountability group gets larger. You are going to have a job and you are going to have people you are accountable to. I think as sad as it is in this instance; there is an opportunity to continue to show the young men that you have to stay accountable to everyone. I have talked to them a lot about our prayers are with Eric. We are going to do everything we can to encourage him. We have a lot of things going on internally that people in this organization thought of that I think are great. Whether it is writing notes, doing videos that they are sending up to the hospital each day of the guys talking to him. What we don’t want to do is have a bunch of people there that can’t get into see him because he needs his rest. What we do want is when Mrs. LeGrand feels when he is awake and wants to put on a DVD and let him listen and watch. We have been trying to do things to make the hospital room and waiting room more ‘homey’ because it is going to be a long process. That part I think everybody is doing a tremendous job of. We have a great support network here with all the administrators and all the people in this building. Everybody is working together and Eric has a great family. We have all been communicating very well. Doctor Monaco is kind of the central point in making sure we tie all the medical ends together. I really think everybody has joined together to do the best we can in a bad situation.”

    Is Eric responsive to seeing the DVDs and talking to people?

    “He goes through different periods. There is medications that have to be administered and there is those kind of things. He has been very responsive at times and very aware. It has only been, it feels like a number of days, but is has only been a few days. I have tried to keep him informed on what is going on here. I have seen him each day. I have said ‘hey this is what is happening with the guys’ he understands.”

    What has the response been like from his family for the outpouring of support?

    “Just really grateful… overwhelmed and grateful. Karen LeGrand is a special lady. She and I have talked about that. You looking at the number of emails. Hackensack University Medical Center has been unbelievable at helping us and accommodating the family and accommodating all the visitors. I went later last night but they said there had to be 50 people there. You can’t get in to see him in ICU but they are just there for the family supporting them. It says a lot about Eric. I have met a lot of his high school friends and they are not football players. I read one of the quotes from our players that said ‘Eric has that electric personality and big smile. He is a big teddy bear and people like being around him’ and you can see that by the outpouring. Certainly the Rutgers fans have been unbelievable with their response.”

    With everything that has happened, can you sense this team is ready to play a football game?

    “We are not ready yet but we will be. It is Tuesday. We implemented the game plan. I think our coaching staff has done a tremendous job of staying focused on the job. The players have done a great job. Yesterday was the player’s day off and they were all over the building watching video and doing the things that a team that is going to be prepared does early in the week. Today’s practice I thought was good. There is a lot of kinks to work out when you introduce the new game plan. They worked extremely hard and were extremely focused. It has been a weird season with all the different byes and Fridays and different days. This is an old fashion game week. You get a Tuesday, you get a Wednesday and you get a Thursday and you go play. You are talking about maybe 80 plays in the whole week to get ready and then you go play. The guys understand the urgency that is involved and well certainly Eric is on the front of everybody’s mind, they have been able to focus on the task at hand while we have been involved in football activities. It is one of the things we talked a great deal about… Eric LeGrand is a guy that comes to this facility and is locked in. he loves everything about it. We talked a lot about it as a team… he can’t do that now but you can and that is what he wants.”

    What about Ka’Lial Glaud stepping in for Manny [Abreu] and can you give us an update on Manny’s condition?

    “Manny injured his knee but it is not season ending. He will be back, when we are not sure. Ka’Lial is going to be the starter at SAM and he is ready. Ka’Lial has been ready and I am very confident that he is going to come in and play the way that a starter plays. Where I am a little more concerned in is our depth. We have lost now four linebackers. It is crazy… all to knees. Marcus Thompson has moved up to the second team linebacker after moving back to linebacker. Al-Ghaffaar Lane, Marvin Booker… those guys are working their tails off to get ready but they don’t have cumulative reps to call upon. We are little bit in a depth situation there. Certainly at the defensive line, some guys now get the call. Isaac Holmes gets the call inside and Michael Larrow now gets put into the mix. There it will be a little different.”

    How is Desmond Stapleton doing?

    “Desmond practiced today which was encouraging. I was concerned that he wouldn’t. He did some good things. Mo [Sanu] is banged up but I think Mo will be ok. It is a very physical game and as always Mo is carrying the ball so many times in different ways he puts himself out there. He needed a day here today to kind of mentally go through it and hopefully tomorrow he will feel better. I know he will feel better, we just needed to do like what we did with Ray [Rice] sometimes.”

    How is healthy Tom [Savage] and is he available to play?

    “Yes, Tom is available. Tom was available to play Saturday. Tom will be available to play. I go back to the same thing… we have two really good quarterbacks and whatever gives us the best chance to win is what I am going to do. That is where we leave it.”

    Will it be a week-to-week thing on quarterbacks?

    “Like I just said whatever gives us the best chance to win. I was very impressed; again it was a tough, tough game, but the ability to do what we did offensively in the fourth quarter. The ability to do it in the second half with Chas [Dodd]. Chas stepped up. I am just not judging anything, we are just going. We are going and we will look at it as we go and we will make decisions as we go and try not to think too much past today.”

    Are you out of options with the offensive line, I know you were frustrated with them at the end of the game last week?

    “I don’t know if I am frustrated with them. We just need to perform better. It is not a good thing to get your quarterback hit that much. We are not out of options… heck no. We have options. I don’t know if we will implement them if they are not what we believe to be the best option. The options are not only personnel they are scheme related. Maybe we need to change some things scheme-wise that can help them a little bit. Maybe we are not doing a good enough job helping them. We are examining everything under the sun to try and be more proficient in our pass protection.”

    Do you prefer the way Pitt plays with their defensive line as opposed to what Army did?

    “Pitt is a little more traditional. Pitt has blitzed a little more than they have in the past. Dave [Wannstedt] is a guy if you can get after him with four and have effectiveness than that is what he wants to do. I understand that totally. They have done a little more blitzing this year. You take the two pieces… they have done a little bit more and we haven’t been very effective in stopping it… I would anticipate we are going to see more of that, especially if we have some success moving the football early. If it is not step one, than it will be step two I am sure.

    So Chas [Dodd] will start this week?

    “Right now yeah. I am not going… I thought Tom [Savage] for the first time looked like his old self again today in practice. But, in my mind right now, Chas is taking the first team reps and he will be our starter but I am not going to get locked into anything. We are going to do what is best.”

    What are the differences in Pitt’s running game from last year to this year?

    “Like every college football team, the lost some players. They lost their tight ends, they lost a couple lineman. They are working new guys into the package. I thought Billy Stull played at a high level as a senior. Anytime you have to replace players, people forget that is hard to do. I think now what has happened is their offense has really found their stride. I think they started out… they had a really tough opening opponent who played very good defense and has played very good defense. I think they really have gotten better and better and I see it on tape. They made a couple personnel changes in the offensive line. They are playing much better and they still have the two great tailbacks and probably the best fullback in America in Henry Hynoski and that goes unnoticed because the great tailbacks they have. Henry is athletic, he is big, he can carry the ball, he can block, he can do it all. They flex him out, he is all over the field… motioning into the back field, staying out there. I really am impressed; they have been very creative with their offense. It looks like Sunseri is really starting to feel comfortable in that offense. Unfortunately for us, it kind of times up right when we are playing them. Hey, you play them as they come.”

    How does the move with Ka’Lial affect his role on special teams?

    “Actually, his role became bigger when Jimmy Dumont went down. He is the personal protector so yeah. Ka’Lial is that kind of guy, he wants the responsibility. He wants it. He has been yearning for it. He just hasn’t been able to crack the lineup. He is not happy the way it came about but he is ready to do it and I believe he is ready. He has really improved as a player. I am anxious to see him play in a game.”

    Is Khaseem Greene looking forward to facing Ray Graham [his brother] this year as they are both prominent on their team?

    “That will be interesting. I am sure it is always a little bit weird but once you start playing, it is football.”

    How is Joe Martinek progressing?

    “I think Joe has looked better the last two weeks. Today, in practice, I thought he looked better yet. I am hoping we can get him back… he is not 100 percent but he is getting closer.”

    What kind of challenges does Jonathan Baldwin present?

    “It is not just Baldwin. The three of those guys are the biggest receiving crew we will go against all year… 6-5, 6-5, 6-4. They are really good. Like I said, now it looks like the quarterback has gotten more comfortable with what they are doing. That is a fun group of receivers to throw to. There will be some really good receivers on that field Saturday on both teams.”

    Will San San [Te] be doing kickoffs again?

    “I don’t know. That was brought about because something happened in Teddy’s [Dellaganna] leg in pregame. He just felt something go. Kicking off is a much more violent act than punting. Kicking off is probable the most abusive on the leg. You really whip that thing when it hits. He felt he could punt but he couldn’t kick off. I was really pleased, San San did a nice job for not having done it all year. I thought he did a good job. I don’t know where we will go this week. We will see how it plays out. It is good to know that we have two kickers for the kickoff duties.”

    A couple of Eric’s teammates said that Eric was never on the LOS list and that is something they are never on, is that something you like to hear?

    “It stands for ‘Lack of Swarm’ and that is the big thing around here is that you swarm the football. Each day there is an accountability before we start the meeting these guys had LOSes. It is true, you didn’t find 52 on that list. It is another way they can kind of honor him and they can try to up their game.”



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    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.