It was only eight years ago when Greg Schiano came to Piscataway and promised fans a competitive program and hopes of one day hoisting a championship trophy. Those words of hope seemed to vanish as quickly as the team’s heart and soul did in their embarrassing 44-12 home loss at Rutgers Stadium Thursday night.
Rutgers has started the 2008 season 0-2 for the first time since 2002. That year the Scarlet Knights finished 1-10. The loss to North Carolina at home was the worst loss in Piscataway since West Virginia defeated Rutgers 40-0 that same dismal season.
Not only did fifth year senior quarterback Mike Teel throw three interceptions against the Tar Heels but it took him seven full quarters to throw his first touchdown of the season. The offense has scored only 13 points in 2008 while returning a 3,000 yard passer and two 1,000 yard receivers from the 2007 season.
Diehard fans were reminded last night how bleak a Rutgers football team can look. Rutgers showed no heart and no desire to even compete with UNC late in the game. It was as if Rutgers fans were back in the days of the Terry Shea era.
At his post game press conference Head Coach Greg Schiano appeared confused and stone faced, “Tough night for us, but we will be back. I felt like we were a yard short a bunch of times which certainly is frustrating. We just don’t understand how to seize the moment right now.”
Miscues in the secondary by Courtney Greene, Joe Lefeged and Jason McCourty led to more big plays by the visiting offense. McCourty was torched all night long by Tar Heel wide receiver Brandon Tate as he racked up four receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown.
Schiano appeared most disappointed when talking about his secondary, “As a secondary player, and I coached that position for 15 years, you get judged on your opportunities. You do everything right 60 plays a game, but then there are those three plays that decide the outcome.”
So far the Rutgers defense, headed by Schiano, has made visiting players like Tate and Fresno State RB Ryan Matthews Heisman hopefuls with their awful play.
Rutgers has now been outscored 51-13 in the second half and brings to light what many people are wondering; what the heck goes on at halftime in the Scarlet Knights locker room?
Greg Schiano has been out coached in several games ever since that one magical night in Piscataway in 2006. Ever since the Louisville win Rutgers is 10-9 overall and just 6-5 at home.
So what now? What can Greg Schiano do to save this season?
Leadership appears to be the main issue with the team. Mike Teel is struggling, Courtney Greene appears lost, and wide receivers Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood have severely underperformed.
Now it’s time to turn to the guy with the main headset on. This is where a coach earns his money. Schiano is being paid $2 million to get this program to a Big East championship. The way this team is playing now they could not win a MAC title.
It was amusing to watch Brandon Tate run past Jason McCourty for a 69-yard score and all Schiano could do to muster a response to his defense was give the “keep chopping” sign. That didn’t seem to work as the defense went on to give up 21 points in the third quarter.
What ever happened to that “keep chopping” attitude, the pack a lunch everyday attitude? It appeared to leave with the respected players like Brian Leonard, Ray Rice, and Eric Foster.
This group of players showed that whenever the going gets tough they run and hide. Mike Teel threw an interception last night off the hands of RB Mason Robinson, Bruce Carter then ran 66 yards for a touchdown as Teel and his offensive line parted like the Red Sea to give up the score.
It is now a game of numbers for Rutgers. The record stands at 0-2 with ten games remaining. With two non-conference games coming up against beatable teams in Navy and Morgan State, Rutgers fans hope that the team can gain some momentum heading into conference play when they travel to Morgantown, WV on Oct. 4.
Last night’s game against UNC showed many things and one of them may be that Greg Schiano may be a very good con artist. Until this team wins there is no reason to think otherwise.