The countdown for the season opener for Rutgers football is now in single digits, as they host Temple nine days from now on September 2. The Scarlet Knights are three weeks into training camp and after holding its second and final scrimmage this past Saturday, the focus has officially shifted to getting ready for the first game of the 2021 season.
After Monday’s practice, head coach Greg Schiano said, “I think we’ve really got to lock in now on Temple. There’s a lot of football out right now there scheme-wise, a year’s worth of what we want to do. Today, this was it. Now we’ve got to lock in and begin our preparation for Temple. I’m excited, and I think our whole team is excited, to finally be doing that.”
Schiano stated he thought “there was a lot of good stuff” after watching film of Saturday’s scrimmage. In regard to the health of the team heading into game week, “I think we got out of it pretty clean, which is a positive,” said Schiano. “Certainly you go through a hard training camp, guys have bumps and bruises.”
When asked about captains for this season, Schiano commented, “We have a game, so we better name them pretty soon.” In regard to the leadership on the team, he added, “I like our leadership. I think we have several leaders. We have some older guys who have played a lot of football. I think that way we are fine.”
The position group that has the most questions heading into this season is the offensive line. After exceeding expectations last year, another step forward from this group is needed for the Rutgers offense to build off of the progress made last season.
Asked about the current status of the offensive line, Schiano stated, “Improved for sure. I’m not sure we’re 100% set on who the first five are going to be. I think there’s some back and forth right now on the staff. But we have to shore that up here pretty soon.”
While multi-year starters Raiqwon O’Neal and Nick Krimin are the anchors of the line, one player who can make a big difference this season is Cedrice Paillant. The former JUCO transfer played in all nine games last season at left guard, starting seven. His development would help solidify a group needing as many reliable starters as possible.
“He’s actually performed pretty well at times,” said Schiano. “The consistency is the issue with Cedrice, but I think he’s more consistent than he’s ever been. That’s a positive. If he can just build on that, I think he can have a really productive year.”
Those comments echo the entire Rutgers team heading into the 2021 season. The preparation for the opening game against Temple has begun. Nine more days....