|Red-hot Rutgers on the rise again|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 November 2008 09:17|
``I haven't spent any time on that, we just need to keep winning games,'' Schiano said.
The fact the topic can even be broached, however, is a sign of just how far Rutgers has come this year. The Scarlet Knights pulled off their fourth straight win with a dominant 49-16 pasting of South Florida last weekend to improve to 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big East. They already lost to conference leader Cincinnati, which is 4-1.
Rutgers can become bowl eligible with a win over Army on Saturday and guarantee a fourth straight postseason trip by following it up with a victory over struggling Louisville in the season finale.
It's a scenario that seemed remote after a nightmarish 1-5 start that included embarrassing losses to Fresno State and North Carolina where the Scarlet Knights barely looked competitive.
a teammate following a late-game interception.
Schiano decided not to suspend his quarterback, however, and Teel has repaid his coach's patience by playing the best football of his career. Teel has been spectacular at times during Rutgers' current four-game run, throwing for 293 yards and three scores against South Florida. His 15 touchdowns this season are tied for the league lead and has helped take some of the pressure off his inexperienced backfield.
``Mike is an incredible competitor,'' Schiano said. ``He had a tough start to the season. I think Mike's perseverance just showed through. This is a guy that is legendary in his work ethic. He lives in the film room and I think he just stuck to the plan. It's tough when you've done what Mike has done - lead your team to bowl games and big victories - to come back after a tough start. He just hung in there.''
So have the rest of the Scarlet Knights. Wide receiver Kenny Britt became the school's all-time leader in receiving yards after rolling up 173 yards on eight catches against the Bulls, giving him 2,666 for his career. Cornerback Jason McCourty had two interceptions and a fumble recovery as the Scarlet Knights forced six South Florida turnovers.
starting to get there and I hope it continues.''
KEEP OFF THE LOGO: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe and several of his players took exception when a few Cincinnati players stepped on the Cardinals' logo during a walkthrough before last Friday's game between the longtime rivals.
``Our guys kind of took offense to that and our fans take offense to that and to be honest with you I take offense to that, too,'' Kragthorpe said.
The problem might have been exacerbated when the Bearcats took a knee near the logo during a pregame prayer. Kragthorpe and coach Brian Kelly exchanged words following the prayer, though Kragthorpe stressed his problem was with the walkthrough earlier in the day.
``The problem I had is that they called their team up on the logo; it's just not something I would do,'' Kragthorpe said. ``I don't know if it was malicious. I don't know what the thought process was. I didn't ask him.''
Kelly said simply he and Kragthorpe had a disagreement and did shake hands after the game, contrary to reports that the two ignored each other before walking off the field. If there was any bad blood during the game, however, it didn't show.
``It was an emotional game,'' Kelly said. ``Both teams played hard, but there were no personal fouls for taunting or anything, that's what really sticks out in my mind. It was just a hard-fought rivalry game.''
int deficit to win 28-20, a much better result than the last time Cincinnati appeared to disrespect the logo. The Bearcats jumped on the logo before the 2004 matchup, a game Louisville won 70-7.
ONE TD AWAY: Senior receiver Dominick Goodman matched Cincinnati's school record for career touchdown catches by grabbing his 21st in a 28-20 win at Louisville last week.
The 6-foot-1 receiver is tied with Jim O'Brien, who played for the Bearcats in the 1960s and was a kicker and receiver with Baltimore and Detroit in the NFL for four seasons. Goodman has three more games to break O'Brien's mark.
Even though he'd be at the top of the list, Goodman wouldn't consider himself the best.
``I don't feel like that,'' Goodman said. ``There are a lot of great receivers going through (Cincinnati). Growing up as a little kid, I saw them. People can say I'm one of them, but there are people that started this that were here before me.''
Goodman's father, Don, played at Cincinnati in the 1980s. His son went to Colerain High School in suburban Cincinnati, making him familiar with the program's past.
His diving, 23-yard touchdown catch in a downpour put the Bearcats ahead of Louisville in the third quarter and matched the school record.
``It's a great feeling, especially in that kind of condition,'' he said.
career yards receiving, third all-time behind LaDarris Vann's 2,483 yards. His 183 catches trail only Vann's mark of 204.
SHORING UP THE SPECIAL TEAMS: West Virginia coach Bill Stewart remains a special teams coach at heart, one of the main reasons why the Mountaineers' struggles on kickoff coverage has him baffled.
Opponents are averaging a healthy 31.2 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown by Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard two weeks ago that sparked the Bearcats' upset.
It won't get any easier this week against Louisville and wide receiver/returner Trent Guy, who is averaging 24.5 yards per return and has already taken one the distance this year. Guy also had a 40-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Mountaineers in 2006.
``Good Lord, I thought Trent Guy had graduated and moved on, he just catches those kickoffs and goes,'' Stewart said.
Stewart spent the team's bye week tinkering with the kick coverage units in hopes of getting some consistency.
``It's been live. I've changed some people,'' Stewart said. ``We have a good kicker and we expect him to hang the ball. We needed some fine tuning.''
FADING BULLS: South Florida began the season as the odds on favorite in the Big East and at one point reached the Top 10. Four losses in five weeks have the Bulls needing to win at least one of their final two games to assure themselves of a bowl berth.
Blame turnovers. Lots of them. While the Bulls lead the Big East in total offense and are second in total defense they simply have been unable to hold onto the ball. USF turned it over six times in last week's 49-16 loss to Rutgers and has 20 turnovers on the season, second only to Louisville's 23.
``Turnovers have been the big thing,'' coach Jim Leavitt said.
So, too, have injuries and the inability of the subs to keep it going.
``We've got some young guys playing that we've got to develop quickly,'' Leavitt said. ``They're not coming along as far and as fast as we'd like them too.''
HONORS: Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt was named the Offensive Player of the Week after his 173-yard effort against South Florida. The performance included a 93-yard touchdown pass, the second longest in school history. Britt's 68 catches this year have him seventh in the country in receptions per game. The game was Britt's fourth straight 100-yard performance.
Rutgers cornerback Jason McCourty was selected as Defensive Player of the Week after collecting two interceptions - one for a touchdown - and recovering a fumble in the win over South Florida.
Connecticut kicker Dave Teggart was Special Teams Player of the Week after going 3-for-3 on field goals and adding four extra points in a win over Syracuse. Teggart is a perfect 9-for-9 since winning the kicking job earlier this season.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.