Rutgers has been able to go through a regular practice schedule this month to prepare for the season and that means scrimmages as well. On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights took the field for their second and final scrimmage before the season begins. This scrimmage served as a chance for Greg Schiano and his coaching staff to get a good look at the team in order to build the two-deep depth chart.
“There are some decisions that are going to be made off tonight for sure,” Schiano said. “It’s not always starting decisions. Is he a 2, a 2 1/2, or a 3? When I say 2 1⁄2 we have a two-deep (with a) 1 and 2 at each position and then a fifth guy (at a position) that builds the depth. And those battles are very important because during a game you can get to that in a heartbeat. And now that’s the guy that’s in there to win the game.”
The Scarlet Knights have a little over a week before they open the 2021 season. At this point, Schiano is pleased with where the team is but made it clear that there are some improvements that need to be made.
“I’m really layered with the way these guys are working — that gives you a chance,” Schiano said. “And they work really hard, and they’re really good people. So that’s all you can ask for form your team. We have to coach better. That’s a for sure. We need to clean stuff up in a hurry and we need to make sure they understand what we’re saying. So that’s on us.”
The Scarlet Knights did not feature some of their top players as much and this was done on purpose. The coaching staff used this time to have a look at their team as a whole — and they did so in some poor conditions.
The scrimmage took place on a rainy Saturday but that is an important element for the team to be comfortable with, especially in the area they play in.
“I think (bad weather conditions) is always good if you can get it,” Schiano said. “We play the game in the elements, whether its the cold last year when we played late, or the rain, (or) lightning. We've have plans for all that, and operationally you need to be able to do that. Tonight we were ready to do that. there was some good stuff from a football standpoint as well as a dealing-with-circumstance (standpoint).”
Poor weather could make for some poor decisions and style of play. There were some mistakes made but scrimmages can be a tough time to judge. Even Schiano expressed how a turnover by the offense is a takeaway for the defense so there is still some positivity. Penalties were a problem last season and that is the main area that needs to be cleaned up.
It is important for a team to continue to take steps forward. That is what happened with Rutgers despite some mistakes.
“If we played the game today, we did enough things to lost the game,” Schiano said following the first scrimmage. “When you’re playing against yourself a turnover is a takeaway for your team, too. so that’s a positive but you can’t make those penalty mistakes we made.”
The Scarlet Knights will host Temple at SHI Stadium in Piscataway on Sept. 2. There are expectations for Rutgers to take another step in 2021 in Schiano’s second year and a normal offseason will certainly go a long way in accomplishing that goal.
“It was a good opportunity for everybody — coaches, players, staff — to be on their toes and execute,” Schiano said. “So I’m anxious to watch technically how we did. But I thought as an organization we handled the day and then the scrimmage well tonight.”