The 2020 season was a strange one and because of this, it is taking Greg Schiano a bit longer to accomplish all firsts back at Rutgers.
In a 61-14 victory over Temple in Week 1, Schiano was able to check off a few boxes. It was not only his first game coaching in front of fans in his second tenure, it was his first victory back in SHI Stadium. The Scarlet Knights went 0-5 at home last season but finished 3-1 on the road.
This is important as the Scarlet Knights prepare to hit the road for the first time this season and will be back in front of opposing fans.
“It’s not only a real road environment but it’s one of the loudest road environments you can have,” Greg Schiano said during game week press conference on Monday. “I believe that it’s the only dome in division one right? So it’s going to be loud. I remember, obviously we played there several years. It’s gonna be loud so we have to get ready for that noise. We practice with crowd noise all the time but that noise that you pipe in through speakers and that noise that you’re going to face in a dome are two different things.”
“We’re gonna be prepared for it but until you go through it, you’re not sure how your team is gonna respond.”
It has not been the easiest time for Syracuse over the years but the Orange were able to start 2021 with a victory. It was a hard-fought 29-9 victory that saw them rush for 283 yards and gain 6.4 yards per carry.
Sean Tucker finished with 181 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries while Tommy DeVito continued to act as a dual-threat. This is something that Schiano and his coaching staff will have to prepare for.
“They have a very complex run game. It’s triple-option football by another name,” Schiano said.” They’re reading it, they’re throwing it. DeVito can beat you with his arm and his feet. He extends the plays — they’ll run the zone read and then carry it all the way out and then throw it to the receiver so you have to account for all of it. It’s not the traditional wise-bone triple option but it’s got all the elements of it. They’re running RPO’s. They’re doing everything that can challenge you defensively. Not only in the math of the quarterback running the ball but spreading you and making you cover 53 1/3.”
On paper, the Scarlet Knights will come into this game as the more-talented team and will be a slight favorite on the road. We have seen many times in college football that a home crowd can change the fortune of a game really quickly.
This is something that the Scarlet Knights cannot look past.
“In college football, you don’t have preseason games,” Schiano said. “You line up and you play for 20 or 30 whatever days but you never go, other than scrimmage yourself. Now after a game, you get to see the things that don’t come up in training camp because you weren't in a game. Responding to the crowd, responding to the celebrations...All of those things, I think we’re going to improve on just how you run a game as a player.”
“That’s probably the biggest thing just the operation of the game. Sure, we gotta throw and catch better, we have to run better, tackle better, run better but now that we have one under our belt, it’s how we’re gonna become a smoother, more efficient operation on game day.”
It has been 651 days since Syracuse played a home game in front of a crowd. The Carrier Dome holds close to 50,000 seats and it will be as loud as ever on Saturday. If Rutgers can come away with a victory, it will check off yet another first for Schiano by picking up a road victory in front of fans.