- Associated Press - Monday, October 25, 2010

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - With Eric LeGrand showing no signs of improvement since suffering a spinal cord injury more than a week ago, Greg Schiano knew the concern and anxiety was increasing for his Rutgers football players.

So when the team held its normal Sunday meeting, Schiano talked to his players about their fears, giving them the opportunity to sort things out.

“I think last night was good,” Schiano said Monday. “We had a chance without any deadline ahead of us, we had a chance as a team to talk through some things. Certainly, the unknown is a scary thing. I think there is a strong belief within our team and family and there is a strong belief in God and what he is capable of doing.”

LeGrand has been paralyzed from the neck down since making a tackle on a kickoff return against Army on Oct. 16 at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Schiano said after Rutgers‘ 41-21 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday that there has been no change in the condition of the 20-year-old defensive tackle.

Schiano had no medical update Monday during a conference call of Big East Conference coaches.

However, he felt the team was reassured after its meeting, and it is committed to praying for LeGrand and his family.

Looking back on Rutgers‘ loss over the weekend, Schiano admitted that the team’s concern for LeGrand may have taken a toll on the Scarlet Knights (4-3, 1-1 Big East). In the week leading up to the game, he had asked his players to try to leave their concerns off the field.

“I think it is definitely very difficult to do, but that’s the world,” Schiano said. “The one thing that I have tried to explain to the players is that the world is a tough place. We had a tough situation, a very tough situation, it kind of puts things in perspective.

“You still have a game on Saturday,” he added. “Now, having said all that, I don’t know emotionally if we had enough in the tank to compete in the game. It was going to take every bit of our emotional, physical and mental strength to win.”

Rutgers was tied at 14 at halftime, but it was no match in the second.

The schedule offers the Scarlet Knights a little help, though. They don’t play until next Wednesday, at South Florida.

“The kids have a couple of days to themselves, and then we will get back into it,” Schiano said. “I just think everyone needs to sort through things themselves, and then come and attack the preparations for South Florida.”

While saying his team is beat up and emotionally worn down, Schiano believes it will respond. As for himself, Schiano said dealing with LeGrand’s injury has been tough.

“It is definitely a challenge, but we don’t get challenges that are bigger than we can handle,” he said. “I think we have to work our way through it. There is fear, there is anxiety. There are all those issues. The best thing we can do is get them out in the open and deal with them and realize we are part of competitive athletics and there will be a game next week. We’ve put an awful lot into this. It is a game we love and Eric loves.”

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