| Defense |
It seemed like things had been building to something big over the
first five seasons, all losing ones, in the Schiano era with
improved recruiting and a better attitude. Enough good things were
happening on both sides of the ball to suggest that a little
tinkering and little more luck would mean a bowl game for the first
time since 1978.
It also helped that the schedule was flat-out awful.
Let's not go overboard quite yet about Rutgers football after
one winning season and a good post-season appearance. The 2005
Scarlet Knights only came up with one win over only one team that finished with a winning
record (Navy), but you can only beat who's on your schedule. This was, and still is, a tremendously flawed team that
needs another relatively easy road and big years from a slew of
young players to make it two straight bowl appearances.
Head coach: Greg Schiano
6th year: 19-39
Returning Lettermen: 44
Lettermen Lost: 18
Best Rutgers Players
1. FB Brian Leonard, Sr.
2. TE Clark Harris, Sr.
3. RB Ray Rice, Soph.
4. LB Devraun Thompson, Sr.
5. FS Ron Girault, Jr.
6. SS Courtney Greene, Soph.
7. PK Jeremy Ito, Jr.
8. DE Jamaal Westerman, Soph.
9. DT Ramel Meekins, Sr.
10. TE Sam Johnson, Sr.
at North Carolina
at South Florida
at West Virginia
2005 Record: 7-4
2005 predicted wins
at Illinois L 33-30 OT
Pittsburgh W 37-29
West Virginia L 27-14
at Syracuse W 31-9
at Connecticut W 26-24
at Louisville L 56-5
Despite getting as much
pressure on the quarterback as any defense in the nation, the secondary
gave up too many yards. Meanwhile, there wasn't enough of a run defense
against the above-average ground games.
defense is missing pass rushers Ryan Neill and Val Barnaby, but the
secondary should be better.
The offense has a great pair of backs in Brian Leonard and Ray Rice, and
tight end Clark Harris could be one of the league's best pro prospects, and now
the passing game needs a little work with new starting quarterback Mike
Teel, or Jabu Lovelace, needing keep the offense moving.
The big issue is the depth. This coaching staff has never been afraid to
play true freshmen, and it'll have to rely on this year's class to come
through in a big way if injuries strike. Linebacker will be a big, big
problem if the front three go down.
But come on, Rutgers went to a bowl game. Rutgers. You know, the program
that went without a winning season since 1992. It's not time to get
nitpicky or ask questions. Last year was a bowl season, and no apologies
have to be made. Now the program has to prevent a slide back into the
abyss. Now about that schedule ...
Schedule: It's tougher than last year's, but its not rough enough to
prevent another trip to a bowl game. Things should be fine if the
Scarlet Knights can survive a midseason three game road stretch at South
Florida, Navy and Pittsburgh after a winnable three-game non-conference
stretch against Illinois, Ohio and Howard. Louisville has to come to
Rutgers Stadium, but a bowl bid had better be wrapped up by the end of
November with a regular-season finale at West Virginia. It's all about
getting to seven wins, and Rutgers should be better than Illinois, Ohio,
Howard, and Cincinnati. That means it has to win two of three against
Navy, Connecticut and Syracuse; that's doable.
Offensive Player: Senior TE Clark Harris. It depends on how you want
to define "best" player. Fullback Brian Leonard is the main man of the
offense and the star of the team, but Harris will be a first
round-caliber draft pick next April. Leonard is the more indispensable
of the two for the Scarlet Knight offense even though Harris will make
more All-America lists.
Defensive Player: Senior LB Devraun Thompson. Safeties Ron Girault
and Courtney Greene might have something to say about this. Thompson has
grown in a big way over his career becoming a do-it-all star in the
middle of the defense. He was second on the team in tackles, turned into
a steady pass rusher, and has been a nice pass defender.
to a successful season:
Linebackers Chenry Lewis an
Quintero Frierson. With Devraun Thompson a steady rock in the middle,
the two veterans on the outside have to come up with huge seasons to up
the overall production of the defense, and most importantly, they
must stay healthy. There was a big haul of linebackers in the
recruiting class, but it's rolling the dice to rely on true freshmen
against the better Big East teams.
will be a success if ... Rutgers goes back to a bowl game. The program has gone to
back-to-back bowls ... never. Considering there have been two bowl
appearances in over 130 years of Rutgers football, two straight would be a really big deal.
September 29th at South Florida. This has to be a win if Rutgers
wants to take the next step. Beating West Virginia and Louisville right
now might be too tall an order, but South Florida is dead even with the
Scarlet Knights. A 1-0 Big East start with a road win under the belt
would be nice.
- Sacks: Rutgers 47
for 343 yards - Opponents 19 for 110 yards
- Second quarter scoring: Rutgers 108 - Opponents 54
- Interceptions thrown: Rutgers 19 - Opponents 6
The Last Time Rutgers…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Insight Bowl vs. Arizona State)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2002 (Army)
…was shutout…2002 (Notre Dame)
…scored 50 points…2000 (Buffalo)
…won a conference title…never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2004 (Ryan Hart)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Ray Rice)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Tres Moses)
…had a first-round draft choice…never