PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The opponent will be very different for Rutgers in week two. The Scarlet Knights vow to take Howard as seriously as they did Washington — though they expect different results.
Rutgers was blown out by Washington in the first game with Chris Ash as coach.
“After a loss like that you got two choices to make and everyone’s coming to work and everyone’s ready to go this week and we’re approaching this opponent just like any other opponent,” Scarlet Knights quarterback Chris Laviano said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s FCS.”
Howard is one of the worst teams in FCS. After a 1-10 campaign in 2015, it opened up this season with a 52-13 loss at Maryland.
“The opponent never matters. Really for me, it could be anyone across the ball. I approach the game and practices the same way. I’m going to go out there and make sure I’m fundamentally sound and I handle business properly,” offensive lineman Dorian Miller said. “I don’t focus on the I-AA aspect of it. Every week prepare like we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country.”
Rutgers is preparing like a team trying to prove that the debacle in Seattle wasn’t what to expect on a regular basis from a team coming off a 4-8 season that was marred by off the field issues and ended with coach Kyle Flood being fired.
There is much rebuilding to be done and that was on display in Seattle. The Huskies led 24-0 in the first quarter.
“I don’t think anybody waivered. Guys are used to adversity. You go to Rutgers, you’re used to adversity,” defensive lineman Julian-Pinnix Odrick said. “But at the same time, we’re not going to dwell on it. I think we learned a lot from our first game and I’m actually really optimistic about the things that we’re learning from that game.”
The offense seemingly has the most to learn. Coordinator Drew Mehringer has installed a power-spread. Rutgers has in recent years been mostly a pro-style offense.
The new offense gained 304 yards, had three turnovers and converted 5-of-20 third downs against a talented Washington defense.
“We’re all just excited to move on and play this week and to play another game and play at full speed and play our football and not beat ourselves. I think that’s what we’re all anticipating for this week,” Laviano said.
The fact that it’s the home opener adds some extra energy to what already appears to be a motivated and focused team after an embarrassing season-opener.
“Nobody likes to lose, but there’s definitely a different feel about playing in front of your home crowd,” defensive lineman Darius Hamilton said. “You got to protect your house. We got to go out and we’ve got to handle business.”