Opponent Notebook: Greg Schiano Talks Michigan, Rutgers' QB Situation
Michigan Wolverines football will head to Piscataway to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday night. Both teams have 1-3 records through four games and are looking to snap three-game losing skids. Last week, U-M fell, 49-11, to Wisconsin, while Rutgers blew a 20-10 lead and suffered a 23-20 loss to Illinois.
Despite the Wolverines' surprisingly bad start, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano is looking at U-M — a program the Scarlet Knights haven't beaten under Jim Harbaugh — as a major challenge and opportunity.
"We’re in the middle of looking at Michigan," Schiano said Monday. "It’s gonna be a big challenge. I know some look at their record, but it’s still a Michigan football team. They’re very, very talented. They run extremely well.
"They’ve had some injuries, which are to very key players. I don’t know what their status will be for this Saturday, but they’re a very talented football team, so we certainly have a huge challenge ahead of us, one that we’re excited about. We’re excited to be playing at home again. We’ve got to have a great week of preparation."
In week one at Michigan State, Rutgers won its first Big Ten game since the 2017 season in Schiano's first game back at the helm. He held the same position from 2001-11, before heading the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13) and working at Ohio State (2016-18).
Going for win No. 2 in his second go-round at the school, Schiano said he will stick with his starting quarterback, redshirt junior Noah Vedral. The Nebraska transfer threw three interceptions and went 21-of-34 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns in last week's loss to Illinois.
Senior safety and Ohio State transfer Brendon White's status remains in question, after he missed the Illinois game with an undisclosed injury.
"Brendon White, I don’t know if he’ll be able to play this week," Schiano said. "We’ll have to see how it progresses."
The Scarlet Knights' defense failed to contain Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Williams in the ground game last Saturday, with the signal-caller rushing it 31 times for 192 yards and one touchdown. The defensive struggles came both on designed runs for Williams and passing plays when he took off running.
Schiano pointed to that area as one to clean up ahead of this weekend's matchup, with U-M redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Milton — who will compete this week to retain his title as the Wolverines' starter — being a capable runner. Milton has rushed for 117 yards (second on the squad) and one score on 32 carries this season in addition to his 58.7 completion percentage, 967 passing yards and four touchdown tosses.
"The fact that they have a quarterback you’re going to need to spy on as well, then that’s a good question," Schiano said after being asked about containing opposing teams' quarterbacks. "If that was a problem last week, how are you going to be able to fix that problem this week, because if No. 5 is in there, he can really cause damage with his feet.
"We have to figure that out. What we did wasn’t effective [last week], whether it’s scheme, personnel — those are decisions we have to come up with. We have a mobile quarterback, you have to make sure that in passing situations, if you shut down the pass game in the back end, he can’t tuck the ball, run and scramble for the first down. That’s a killer, right? Because you do your job in the back seven and that guy gets out. Michigan is very capable of that, so we have to figure that out in a hurry."
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