Rutgers Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Double Whammy – Throughout the past few years, there have been plenty of strong running back duos.  LenDale White and Reggie Bush carried USC the last three years.  Former Auburn RBs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams went #2 and #5, respectively, in the 2005 draft.  Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett at Cal were so very close to going over 1,000 yards individually last season.  And, then you have Rutgers’ pairing of Brian Leonard and Ray Rice.  In the first three situations, both guys were tailbacks and would often get carries while the other guy got a rest (except for Brown and Williams at Auburn in 2004 under Al Borges).  But, these two are a different combination, made unique, in particular, by Leonard’s multi-dimensional abilities at fullback.  Well, okay, so he’s not your average fullback and Rice is no run of the mill tailback, that’s for sure.  These two will often line up in the backfield as husband and, errr, tailback and fullback, but what makes them special is that through motion or shifts, either one of them can carry the ball and carry it effectively.  Rice burst on the scene last year as a true freshman and rolled up 1,120 yards behind Leonard and the Rutgers offensive line.  At 5’9”, Rice is built so low to the ground already, but he runs even lower to the ground, making it extremely difficult to tackle him when he’s found a seam in the defense.  If Rice is a sweet symphony while he runs, Leonard is Metallica – rage and fury with some explosive riffs built in.  When you come to tackle Leonard, you better bring all your mother gave you, because he will run you over or jump over you as he did at Illinois last season.  Down on the goal line, he’s a monster.  In the Insight Bowl, in the first half, the Scarlet Knights had the ball in close and handed it Leonard.  He got plastered at the two yard line, but kept his feet driving until he was in the zone for six.  But, what’s so great about these two is that Rice can power through tacklers as well, and Leonard has the quickness to make people miss in the open field.  They combine such varied skills that preparing for them is extremely difficult, a double whammy, if you will.

2nd and Seven – Not Meek of Heart – It’s one thing to be a walk-on.  It’s another to be a 6’, 280 pound defensive tackle.  And, it’s quite another to be a walk-on who’s a 6’, 280 pound defensive tackle at the same time, but that didn’t stop Ramel Meekins, former walk-on, from a strong year in 2005.  Meekins was named the team’s MVP after a season that included 15 tackles for a loss and 9 sacks.  That’s the type of performance that will get people’s attention, which also means opposing offensive lines have to find a way to block this quick, penetrating one gap tackle.  But, on the flip side, Meekins has to be that much more dominant this year with no Ryan Neill on the outside.  However, this young man doesn’t shy away from challenges and should contend for All-Big East honors in 2006.

3rd and Three – QB or not QB, that is the question –  As head coach Greg Schiano puts it (okay, so it’s paraphrasing) - Mike Teel is unequivocally our guy at QB.  After spot starting last year for record breaking QB Ryan Hart, Teel has the job all to himself in 2006 and the Rutgers offense shouldn’t miss a beat, right?  Well, the youngster has to find a rhythm and allow the game to slow down a bit, one of the biggest problems with Teel last year was his tendency to try to make a play where there wasn’t one.  He threw ten interceptions on 101 throws; literally, 10% of the time he threw a pick last year.  Ouch.  But, he’s got a strong arm and if he can learn that he can’t stick every ball into a tight space, he’ll be just fine.

4th and One – One if by land, six if by air – Flying home from Phoenix following the Insight Bowl, you’d have to excuse Schiano if, while sleeping, he saw visions of ASU’s Rudy Carpenter completing one pass after another.  The Rutgers secondary got lit up like a holiday decoration, to the tune of 467 yards and four touchdowns by Carpenter.  Consequently, it’s one area that the Scarlet Knights must improve this season.  They return three starters from last year, including leading tackler Courtney Greene, who took over as a true freshman right out of fall camp.  With the experienced defensive backs returning, the nightmares of the desert should be quelled this year.  Well, they should be or another bowl game will fly right on by.

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