Saturday, December 20, 2008

Understanding what it takes to win

How often does a football team begin the season by losing five of their first six games and still qualify for a bowl?

It happened to Rutgers, which after starting the season at 1-5, ticked off six straight wins to earn a bowl bid at 7-5.

The Scarlet Knights haven't lost since October 11.

What's interesting is that, despite the six-game winning streak, the team's overall play hasn't changed dramatically.

According to Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, "We were missing by a little bit, then we were hitting by a little bit."

Players believe the difference between games 1-6 and 7-12 can be traced to their practice habits.

In the words of one senior player: "We were ready to play, but we didn’t understand how hard it was, Sunday through Friday, to prepare for a game Saturday."

Says another: "We’re still the same team, but we’re practicing harder than we did. We knew we had the talent. We knew we had a team that could win. It was all about preparation."

"There’s just been more preparation, more film study, more guys getting together to watch film," said Courtney Greene, a senior safety. "We’ve just put more extra time into it than we did at the beginning of the year."