Rutgers Football players excited about upcoming game in primetime at home
If you go to buy a ticket on ScarletKnights.com for the upcoming Rutgers football team's home game on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at SHI Stadium against Iowa, you'll notice something right away.
Either every section has seats either unavailable or in low quantities -- even single seats only -- but one in the upper deck.
Rutgers fans are slated to flock Piscataway as the Scarlet Knights search for their first 4-0 start since 2012. Under head coach Greg Schiano, Rutgers is 16-7 in home night games with fans (excluding 2020).
With fall-like, clear weather in the forecast, the atmosphere should be like nothing Rutgers hasn't seen in maybe a decade.
“I’m glad that we’re at home. I can’t wait to see SHI Stadium packed," senior linebacker Deion Jennings said after practice on Tuesday. "I haven’t seen it really in my time here. I haven’t seen a sold out night game here. It’ll be fun. It’ll be electric. We’ll have the red uniforms on. It’ll be a great atmosphere.
“Growing up you always dream of something like this. It’s what we play the game for -- night’s like it’ll hopefully be on Saturday. I can’t wait for it.”
Sophomore defensive end Wesley Bailey was calm when talking about it, but the anticipation has him excited.
“I think about the light and 60,000 people here," Bailey said. "Everybody is going to be going crazy.”
Co-captain Shameen Jones, a sixth-year senior wide receiver, was around the last time Rutgers hosted a Big Ten opponent in primetime. That was Ohio State in 2017. He said he doesn't remember much from that game other than the atmosphere in the stadium was buzzing, though he did mention there was quite a few Buckeyes fans too.
“It was a pretty packed stadium. It was exciting," Jones said. "It felt good to be out there.
“Really just being in front of our fans. Really seeing SHI Stadium packed out. It's like a Friday night lights feeling back in high school even though it’s a Saturday. The atmosphere and energy will be great.”
While this is Jones last year "On the Banks" he hopes more night games are in Rutgers' future.
“Most definitely," he said. "We like to have as much support as we can and keep the ball rolling. It starts with winning games.”
And while the players are excited for what's potentially to come on Saturday, they are still taking it one day at a time and focusing on what they need to do out on the practice field, in the film room, and at class.
They understand the importance on not letting the moment and the crowd overwhelm and overamp them.
“Really to stay focused and have tunnel vision," Jones said on what he can tell the younger guys in the program. "When you get out on the field you have to stay calm and stay poised and focus on the task at hand.”
“We have to keep going and keep pushing. It’s just a game," Jennings said. "We’ve all played football since we were young. Just have to go out there and do your job and play fast and physically.”
If there was one week where the "keep chopping" mantra can really be put to good use, it's now.
“We have to make sure we’re all just doing our job and not trying to go out of our way to make plays and make mental mistakes," Bailey said. "We have to chop every play. We have to embrace it, but not let everything take over. Can’t get too excited and not focus on what their job is supposed to be. You can feed off the energy, but you can’t let it control you. …We just have to play Rutgers football.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.