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Taking offense

Mike Teel is not close to losing his starting job. Ever since Teel has stepped foot on campus, for whatever reason, he has been a favorite of Greg Schiano. In 2005, Teel reportedly was outplaying Ryan Hart in practice, and Schiano was quick to yank his senior starter for the ineffective Teel, before a reinvigorated Hart earned his job back.

Another reason why Teel is unlikely to lose his job is because there isn't a legitimate candidate to take it. Schiano and OC John McNulty do not seem to trust backup Jabulani Lovelace to do anything but run the football; for good reason, as he is not very accurate despite his strong arm. Dom Natale had the most accolades of any of the upper classmen coming out of high school, but he suffered a serious arm injury last year, and the coaching staff seems unwilling to give him a chance despite a strong showing in the spring game. The best bet to challenge for the starting job if Teel continues to falter is Chris Paul-Etienne. With my ardent belief that D.C. Jefferson (and Steve Shimko) are far too raw to be realistic options in the near future, CPE may be the best alternative this year, and the best option to start in 2009. The two-deep as a whole is still very young. Anyone writing off the future because of the last two games isn't taking that into account, or the fact that the team is still bringing in better athletes every year.

I don't think the team is close to that point though. Teel has been up and down in the past, which conceivably means that he may have bottomed out and can't keep playing this poorly forever. Until that happens though, I have another proposal.

In 2006, with a very green Teel, and a WR corps decimated by injury, the offense relied on Ray Rice, Brian Leonard, a great offensive line, and checkdowns to TEs Clark Harris and Sam Johnson. Rice has moved on, and the offensive line is very young this year, but in all honesty, it's not a bad group of backs at all. Jourdan Brooks moves very well for a man of his size, and can replace Rice as a chains mover. Kordell Young or Mason Robinson bring speed to the table, and the capacity to cut and break for a huge gain if they get some key blocks.

Relying more on the running game will lure opposing safeties into the box, which will free things up downfield for RU's receivers. It will give some juice to the threat of a play action pass, which will help receivers get open down field for Teel. If successful, a running game will help control the game clock and limit the amount of possessions that opponents receive, which will help keep RU's defense fresh. UConn doesn't have much of a passing game, and they've had their down years (in 2005 and 2006), but this is largely how they do it. Of course, this strategy does require functioning special teams.

This strategy may not help Rutgers score in the red zone. The team's problem this year (on offense at least) is that it doesn't have a lot of trouble moving the ball between the twenties, but can't seem to move the football past that point. I think that's the point where you have to get the ball to the team's playmakers - throw a fade to Britt in the end zone, send Brock over the middle, a shovel pass to an advancing Young or Robinson. At least by playing ball control, the team will do a better job of controlling the clock, and Teel will have less opportunities to make mistakes.