PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers University head football coach Greg Schiano addressed the media one last time in 2003, when he gathered this morning for the annual end-of-season press conference at the Hale Center in Piscataway. Schiano spoke about the progress made in 2003, when Rutgers produced one of the top four turnarounds in Division I-A football this season. Today's conference took place on the three-year anniversary of Schiano's hiring at Rutgers.
"I am excited about where the program is headed and I am excited by the improvement from the players in all areas," said Schiano. "Right now, it is all about keeping the momentum going in the direction that we need to go. There is a plan that was laid out and the important thing is the process when you are trying to build a program, not the season or the year. Along the way, I think we have had some very good accomplishments. I am very excited at the thought that our young guys are coming back, most of them with at least two years left to play. We are also going to miss some key guys - seniors who played in their last football game last Saturday. Those guys are a special group to me."
"The season, I think, was a consisent one. At BIG EAST media day back in August, I made a statement that we would be an exciting team, but we would also be a team with young players that make young guy mistakes. Fortunately, I was prophetic in the first part and unfortunately, I was prophetic in the second part as well. We made plays, we were exciting, but we also made some young guy mistakes that were critical. As long as we learn from those mistakes as program, it will continue to push us on the right path, which is what this is all about - the building of a program, so that when it is built, it will be built to last."
Rutgers posted a 5-7 mark in 2003, the most wins since the 1998 season, and picked up two BIG EAST wins, also the most since '98. Sophomore QB Ryan Hart guided the offense this season, throwing for a school-record 2,714 yards, while also setting single-season marks for attempts (398) and completions (234). Hart also threw 15 TD passes, completing at least one in 11 of 12 games. He hit three different receivers with 50 or more passes this season - Brian Leonard (53, 488), Tres Moses (52, 536) and Shawn Tucker (50, 726). Leonard was the team’s top offensive player, gaining 1,368 yards of total offense, as well as scoring a team-high 14 touchdowns.
Defensively, RU was led by junior safety Jarvis Johnson, who amassed a team-high 97 tackles to pace the team. Senior DE Raheem Orr finished the season with 82 tackles, including 19.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks. CB Nate Jones (73 tackles, 2 INT) and LB Will Gilkison (72 tackles) also enjoyed strong seasons.
"I though the season was a competitive one," added Schiano. "We had eight, maybe nine, teams on our schedule that will be bowl-eligible by the end of the season and that makes for a demanding schedule. For the first time since I've been at Rutgers, I truly felt that at some point in the second half we had an opportunity to win every football game. In the first two years, quite honestly, there were some games where we were trying to get out of there without getting anyone hurt and not look too bad doing it. That has changed and I am very excited that we are now a legitimate Division I football program and now we have to take the next step, which is the most important thing." END OF SEASON NOTES KNIGHTVISION: PRESS CONFERENCE