Jacksonville, Fla. ( Associated Press) — It was easy for Rutgers to accept a spot at the Gator Bowl. Getting there proved to be even more difficult.
The Scarlet Knights, a late replacement for Texas A&M in Friday’s game against 20th-ranked Wake Forest, spent several days trying to land a charter flight for the trip and eventually made two to get everyone to Jacksonville. was required.
In the meantime, here’s a suggestion: Take a train. Rent a cruise ship.
Even after the flight came together, players and some coaches were forced to wait two and a half hours on a tarmac in Newark, New Jersey, to finally take off.
“Literally, when the wheels got off the ground, I said, ‘Okay, it’s official. We’re doing it,'” coach Greg Schiano recalled Thursday. “I promised these guys we’d come down. and we’re letting it hang out.”
Winning the game can be the biggest challenge.
The Demon Deacon (10-3) has one of the most powerful crimes in the country. He has an average school-record 41.9 points, ranking second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and fifth in the nation.
Led by quarterback Sam Hartman and a dynamic receiving pair of Jacquery Roberson and Etsy Perry, they have scored at least 21 points on each opponent this season – more than 40 times – and now face a Rutgers team that averages 20.5 is a game.
“The explosiveness on every play is probably the biggest challenge to defend,” Hartmann said.
The task became even more difficult when the game of bowling, usually a month-long affair with three weeks of practice, became a quick turnaround.
Texas A&M pulled out due to a lack of players available due to injury, opt-outs, transfers and COVID-19 issues. The NCAA gave Rutgers the first shot at filling the void as it had the highest academic progress rate score of all 5-7 teams in the country.
Schiano hastily gathered his players from the Christmas break and did two drills in a hot bubble before heading south. They met two more this week at nearby Ponte Vedra Beach.
“We didn’t win enough games to be eligible to bowl,” Schiano said. “We own it. But we need to know that the work they’ve done in class is what makes them the first to rise when they get the opportunity. I tell them all the time, ‘No coincidence.’ You reap what you sow.”
This is Rutgers’ first bowling since 2014.
Wake Forest, meanwhile, is looking to win 11 games for the second time in the program’s 114-year history. This demon will help the Deacons reach their 2021 goal of “going from good to great”.
“It was a really offensive motto,” said linebacker Luke Masterson. “It wasn’t something we’ve done in the past. I think when we put it out there, and the whole ACC took note of that, and if we didn’t succeed in moving from good to great, we’d be pretty stupid.” seemed.
Rutgers punter Adam Korsak traveled the farthest to reach the bowl game. The Australian was back home in Sydney when he turned on his cellphone and blew through customs with texts urging “come back, come back”.
“Well, it’s not that easy, guys,” he thought.
He booked a flight to the United States, was forced to quarantine for three days and showed evidence of two negative COVID-19 tests taken the day before leaving for Jacksonville.
“It’s a lot of flying, but obviously it’s worth it,” said Ray Guy Award finalist Korsak.
A bonus for Corsack: Rutgers is staying at the Sawgrass Marriott, home of the Players Championship. He is a big fan of golf and had to walk the famous 17th Island Green.
“I’m still buzzing with it,” he said.
Schiano and Wake Forest’s Dave Clausen became friends decades ago and remain so close that they call on each other during the off-season for advice.
The longtime coach was born a year apart and grew up in the Northeast, with Clausen asking Schiano to assess every aspect of Wake Forest in 2014, the year Schiano was fired by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think we’re both grinders,” Clausen said. “I think he’s one of the best coaches in all of college football. He’s one of the smartest, most talented coaches I’ve ever met and I just have a ton of respect for him.”
Hartmann is known for his hair, his dark brown locks that often seem to be in the right place even when viewed from under his helmet. When asked how her long locks are holding up in the humidity of Florida, she replied:
“I don’t know. You tell me,” she said with a smile.
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