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Greg Schiano details progress made in first spring scrimmage



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano discussed the first scrimmage of spring camp on Saturday. Three weeks and nine practices complete, it’s a key developmental period for the program.

“It was long. They stayed focused the whole time,” Schiano said. “Took care of the football. Lot of mistakes, lot of things we got to clean up. As I said to them over and over, there are plenty of mistakes out there, we just got to stop making the same ones twice. Because if you make and you make it, that counts as making it twice because we covered that. That’s what we need to speed up and really decrease the time we make the same mistake twice. There were some good things, we did a lot of things in the kicking game, which I was glad we picked up. They are things we can teach from. Overall, I think it was really productive.”

Obviously, quarterback is a position that will have a tremendous impact on how much progress Rutgers makes next season. Gavin Wimsatt gives RU the highest ceiling with the hope that he can reach it under new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. Backup Evan Simon returns as well and is the only other scholarship quarterback with experience.

“I thought Gavin and Evan both managed the offense well,” Schiano said. “They left some plays out there for sure, but we took care of the football, and when we do that, we win. Now the key is to learn from those opportunities that maybe we missed and still take care of the football. That’s the hope. I’m pleased, they’re making progress. It’s never fast enough. Time is our No. 1 enemy. I really believe that if you just keep going in the right direction, we’re going to get there.”

The development of the offensive line is also crucial for Rutgers to take a step forward in the fall. The unit struggled once again last season. Hopefully, veteran coach Pat Flaherty can lead the offensive line to make major improvement next season.

“It’s small steps, but we’re definitely getting better,” Schiano said. “(Offensive line) Coach (Pat) Flaherty, coach (Scott) Vallone, Coach (Alex) Officer are all doing a great job. It’s a cumulative build. We just have to keep building. Some guys are stepping up that we haven’t heard a lot from, doing things that catch your eye. Once that happens, then that happens more and more. That’s what I’m hoping for these next two weeks.”

Schiano commented on the specialists for the first time this spring. He indicated incumbent kicker Jude McAtamney is competing with redshirt freshman Jai Patel. As for life without Adam Korsak, his mentee Flynn Appleby is in line to take over.

(My impressions were) overall, I thought, favorable,” Schiano said. “Flynn has done a nice job, he continues to do a nice job. Jude had a couple (kicks) today that got away from him but during the competition, he really kicked well. Jay has been kicking well all camp. I like it. We have competition at placekicker and in the punting game, we got a big name to replace there. I think he’s doing a great job of trying.”

As for physical development, Schiano touched on the progress the team has made with strength and conditioning this offseason so far.

“A guy like Tyreem Powell was playing the season at 220-225 (pounds) and now he’s practicing at 230. That’s an extra 10 pounds of muscle that when he hits, you feel it. A guy like Mayan Ahanotu that’s worked hard to get in shape and is a good 295 right now. Those are critical improvements, and when you get stronger, and your body fat stays the same or even goes down, that means you have more lean muscle mass that should help in the trenches.”

Schiano stressed the need to take advantage of every opportunity in the offseason.

“I tell the guys, as a developmental program, when a guy misses an offseason due to injury or surgery, it really sets him behind. That happened to Deion (Jennings). That shoulder surgery totally put him behind. It took a whole year before he was able to get those gains, and then you saw the season he had last year. He’s just picked it up and is moving forward from where he was. So as a developmental program, every offseason is crucial. And that’s what we are – we’re a developmental program.”

In regard to how Schiano approached the first of three scrimmages this spring, he spoke about the preference for playing in SHI stadium.

“We have a great practice facility and we use the heck out of that. When we come down here (SHI Stadium), I want it to be special,” Schiano said. “I want to have a different feel, a game feel. When we come in here, I just want them to get themselves focused and let it rip. Don’t worry about mistakes, just go. So hopefully when you watch the tape, you’re going to see guys that maybe a week ago were kind of holding back and let it go. I saw a couple young guys just do what I asked them to do: ‘Don’t worry about it, just go. We’ll correct it. If you play hard, we’ll get it corrected.’ That part I was pleased with.”

There are six more practices spread over the next two weeks for Rutgers this spring. The camp concludes with the Scarlet-White game on April 29.

You can watch Schiano’s complete press conference on Saturday here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. thevinman

    April 16, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I didn’t realize that Darius Hamilton is now a coach at Rutgers. Good to see some of the previous stars coming back. I liked Schiano’s line at the end about Darius. I won’t give a spoiler to those who want to watch.

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