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RUTGERS UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 7, 2011
COACH SCHIANO: Two days into this, things are going very well. I think we had a great winter program, a great spring, and I think the guys this summer, you know, they took it upon themselves to really work hard. You could see it physically and the way they are conditioned, and you can also see it in the knowledge they have of the game.
We kind of picked up at a point that's a little further along; at least with the first team kids, than we left off at the end of spring. And the only way that happens is if they work very, very hard, whether it's film study or meeting amongst themselves. NCAA rules prohibit us doing that as coaches. So it really puts a lot of the responsibility on the players, and I think our guys did a tremendous job.
So now it's two days in. We are on day three. We have probably moved as quickly as we ever have with our installation because our guys can handle it. And today we'll put the shoulder pads on and crack a little bit and see where we are in respect to that.
So, excited about what's coming forward this season and believe in this team and the staff, and couldn't wait to get started. Can't wait for the season to get here. We need this time right now to get to where we want to be; to be the team we want to be. This is the only time in the year that we have their full attention. And when training camp ends, school, girlfriends, families, all that stuff this is our time as a football team to grow and grow together and to really grow as football players.
So I love this time of year. It's rough on families. It's rough on girlfriends, it's rough on everything else, fathers and mothers, but it's the one time when your football team really comes together. And I'm enjoying this group. They are a very, very fun group to be around.
So with that, I will open it up for questions and try to answer it the best I can.
Q. The pro-style offense, why do you think it fits your personnel?
COACH SCHIANO: Well, I think it fits our personnel but most importantly it fits our personality. We are going to take chances and we are going to have big plays in the pass game but at the heart of the matter is you have to be able to run the football and that's who we are.
That's the region we live in. It's a tough-guy area. It's a working man's area, and if you play football that way, I think the kids grow up that way around here. So the kids you recruit come in and expect that. I think it fits who we are. And when you look at our personnel, I think we have good players on offense that can run it, they can catch it, they can throw it. We are getting better up front, and that's what we should be able to do in this region of the country.
I believe it plays to your whole football team. You know, your defense becomes better because of it. It allows to you really emphasize the kicking game, which we do, and that's our formula.
Q. What do you think Joe Martin's role will be on your football team? He had some injury problems recently but how confident are you he's going to play a significant role in your team this year?
COACH SCHIANO: I'm very confident. Joe is a senior. Joe's a man. He's not a young kid. He knows exactly what's expected of him. First two days he's been very impressive and you know, it's fun to watch a guy like Joe grow up. When Joe came in here, you couldn't get him to say two words and now he is really a confident, sure of himself and a team guy and he'll do whatever we need as a football team.
So he's a great player to have on our team.
Q. Has anything changed -- the contact on Tuesday, how do you see things change, especially as a freshman?
COACH SCHIANO: There's not much different between full pads and shells. The reality is you do everything in shells that you do in full pads other than go to the ground, and we try to avoid going to the ground unless we are scrimmaging as much as possible; stay off the ground, stay on your feet.
Today it will be good. We'll start all the principles of contact. We drill the principles of contact with no pads on: Body position, finishing. But until you actually do it, and the one thing I stress to team every year, it is not a natural act to strike somebody.
You don't come out of the womb wanting to or knowing how to do that. That's a learned skill. And certain people have more of a desire to do it than others, and that's what makes this game I think unique. Swinging a baseball bat, shooting a jumper, those are challenging, but you're not getting smacked in the face. This is what makes football different.
Q. The shifts down at Pittsburgh, were you surprised when you had that chance to go and get him?
COACH SCHIANO: Certainly surprised that we had a chance. When I made a decision that we were making the change, I had approval of candidates. And Dave is a good friend; so I knew before it happened, that it was happening; not much before but a little bit and immediately the wheels started to churn.
I've coached against Frank before but I worked with him. But people that I really trust have worked with him. And that's been a good formula for us as a staff and staffs that I've been a part of.
You know, you spend so much time with these guys. The X & O part is hugely important and finding a guy that's on the same philosophical wavelength, but the reality is, you live together for six months. I mean, basically you see a lot more of them than do you anyone else. So you'd better have people that you really think are good people and that care; care about the players; care about the staff.
Frank is one of those guys. He's deeply, deeply passionate about the offense that he runs. That's something that I love about him. It's fun. It's been a fun spring and a fun camp so far, because I think both sides of the ball are really excelling and competing, and that's good. It rises the level of everything.
Q. Problems putting the offense -- you have three receivers. How will the offense work both guys --
COACH SCHIANO: We do. I think one thing that Frank has shown me coaching against him is -- very much. He spent a lot of time in the National Football League and the National Football League is a match-up league. In coaching against Frank, and his staff, you know, Brian Angelichio is here with him; they did an excellent job of utilizing and highlighting the guys, the talented guys that they had. And I think that's critical.
We actually have, you know, four or five really big receivers. You're talking about 6-3 plus guys, 215-plus, some 230 playing the wide-out position. So I love what we are doing right now.
It is, like you said, Keith, professional-style football. But it doesn't mean that it's going to be all two-back, two receiver, one tight end. We have a lot of four-wide stuff, three-wide stuff, two-wide stuff and no-wide stuff. I think the diversity of moving around from personnel group to personnel group and utilizing the talent of your players.
At end of the day it's about players not plays. And you just have to, as coaches, you have to put them in position to use their talents. So the focus has to be the talent of the player, the gift of the player.
Q. You're coming off your first losing season, first non-Bowl season in quite a while. Does that give the veterans a little more added hunger because they knew what it was like and saw what it was like to miss out on it?
COACH SCHIANO: We go into every year obviously with a burning desire to be great. But I would be lying to you if what happened last year doesn't affect each and every one of us. We fully expect to be back to and beyond where we have been in this program. I think our fans expects that. I think everybody involved with Rutgers football expect that, and you should. That's the expectation levels that we have created here.
Look, when we got here ten years ago there were no expectation levels. So I don't ever shy away and I actually embrace the expectation levels, and we are going to get to where we set out to get to and beyond, there's no doubt in my mind.
So yes, do I think it adds an extra little bit of juice to things? Sure it does.
Q. What have you seen from Savon Huggins in two practices?
COACH SCHIANO: Two practices? Seen some things. He's got a chance. (Laughter).
Q. Do you come in with a plan for him in terms of how you want to integrate him or just see how he progresses?
COACH SCHIANO: We have a plan for everything in personnel. Now, we are not always right so we have to be ready to be adjust the plan and turn on the fly. But so far, we are getting repetitions, he's learning the offense.
Our players did an incredible job this summer incorporating the freshmen into the program, because as we step foot on to the field, the things that some of these freshmen are aware of, we haven't had that in the past. So they are starting at a little bit more of an understanding. They are still miles away, trust me. I mean, there's just so much information. Even the veterans, just getting all of the details.
But as I said, as a program and as a team, we are further area long than we have ever been, so that's good.
Q. How quickly do you have to make a decision on a backup quarterback?
COACH SCHIANO: You know, I think pretty quickly, Brian. I think we have a scrimmage a week from yesterday and I think coming out of there, I think we'd better have the guys -- the two guys. You can really only rep three guys and preferably you rep two, so the third guy gets some reps. It's awfully hard.
You know, a couple of years ago, remember we had all those senior quarterbacks and we were trying to rep -- it's almost impossible. So the first five days, you can rep three or four guys, that's not a problem. But once you get past that fifth day and you really start honing in off the initial installation, we need to narrow it down.
And you know, the one thing that's been an advantage for Chase, is that he got every snap in the spring. You know, so it's a disadvantage maybe that we don't have any depth, but it's truly an advantage for him learning the new system and he's getting the lion's share of the reps now.
Now we have the ability because of our depth and I think the trust that I have in the coaching staff, you'll notice when we practice we have two drills going on at the same time. We split the staff and we split the players so, everybody is getting representations, which is critical during installation. Because as you learn it in the classroom and you walk through it on the practice field; but still, that's not the same as doing it against another guy.
And as Tom mentioned earlier, now we are going to do it where you are actually going to hit the other guy. So it steps up a notch this afternoon.
Q. Do you have an idea when each freshman might be ready to contribute?
COACH SCHIANO: Got a feeling but not ready to share that. I always feel that's unfair to the player because the pressure that it puts on.
Obviously, look, I'm not naïve. Everyone can say Savon (ph), I'm not naïve to that, but there are some guys that I think maybe not everybody expects will help us.
Now, what's help? Help might be 25 carries in a game and help might be ten plays. But if a guy contributes, whether it's offense, defense or kicking teams, all of the little pieces add up to the big puzzle.
Q. What have you seen out of Shuler since he's making the move to the receiver?
COACH SCHIANO: Miles is learning. He wasn't a full-time receiver in high school. Matter of fact he played quarterback most of the time. But it's always interesting to see those guys. He's such a good athlete and when you can run, everything is easier. So that part makes it doable for him.
Q. Doing some different things -- can you highlight that a little bit more --
COACH SCHIANO: Well, I think getting rid of the ball more quickly is the No. 1 thing in pass protection. Not that we didn't try to, I'm not drawing any conclusions -- this is moving forward. I think the timing, passing game we are running is going to help that somewhat.
I think the repetition of what we are doing, repetition is the key. You learn it but then you have to rep it, rep it, rep it, and limiting the run game, being able to run it, over and over and over and over again, helps.
Now, you remember coming into last year, it was a little less uncertain -- a little less certainty, rather, with who was going to take the ball and all those things. I think that will settle down. I do.
Q. How long do -- successful?
COACH SCHIANO: How successful? You know what? That's why you play the game. Everybody in America has an opinion on how every team is going to be. I love the guys I'm coaching. I love their focus right now. I loved their focus in the springtime. We will play them out. These are tough kids and tough coaches.
Q. Do you have any idea, the guys that will wreak havoc on special teams -- like Corey -- do you have a guy like that right now?
COACH SCHIANO: I think we may have a couple and I think some of them are going to be limiting. You have to remember Devon was that tremendous special teams player after he had been involved in special teams for a lot of years.
We have some young physical guys that are going to make plays just because they are physically superior. As they learn more as season goes on, then I think those players are going to be, not only because of talent, but because of understanding.
So I think we have a few. Who will be the one guy who makes a huge amount of plays? That, I'm not sure of. But I'm confident we have some, not just one.
Q. What are your early thoughts on incorporating the fullback into the offense, where do you see that going?
COACH SCHIANO: That's a big part of what this offense is based on, the fullback and the tight end, and really utilizing the personnel.
But as you look back and look at our games against Pitt, you look at your games against North Carolina we played when Frank was there, you look at what Reed did here with Brian Leonard; I think you really have a rep in there. Especially when it's tied to the running game that we do.
So I think that all fits together and ties together, and that's why I think Joe is a really good candidate. Because not only is he a good enough athlete to make the play, but I think he's a good enough athlete and fast enough to make something happen once he gets the ball in his hands.
Q. How permanent do you think the shuffling on the D-Line and offensive line with the first teams are?
COACH SCHIANO: D-Line I think we are going to have make some moves in the second, third teams, depending on who plays, and then who gets good enough.
And then if someone really shows up, then we may be able to move some people around that we want to do things; you do things out of necessity first to get the best four, and then after that you try to build depth and when depth gets good enough, then you can move some guys.
So we are trying to get a look right now. That's what we are trying to do. We have Jay at tackle. We have La Lota -- we did it the other way in the spring; so we saw that in the spring.
And then somewhere in the 12-day-out, 14-day-out time period from the first game, we probably ought to start making some decisions. And by then hopefully we have seen enough of the young kids to make that calculation. And again, that could change throughout the year.
Offensively, you know, we got our seven or eight guys that are going to play. Who is going to get the lion's share? That's going to be by competition. We have some young kids that depending how fast they come on, they jump into the seven, eight; and the seven eight becomes nine or ten. But we have seven guys right now that we are comfortable with looking to add more as these young guys learn the offense.
The guys are downstairs and they will be glad to work with you. Thanks, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports