2008 CFN Rutgers Preview
2008 Rutgers Depth
2007 CFN Rutgers Preview
2006 CFN Rutgers Preview
Interested in blogging
about Big East football?
rising expectations made the 8-5 2007 season a major disappointment,
just what kind of a trajectory is Rutgers on? Is it still building
toward an eventual Big East championship, or did it plateau in 2006? The
upcoming campaign should show where the program is at and just how far
it needs to go … maybe.
Head coach: Greg Schiano
8th year: 38-46
Returning Lettermen: 50
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best Rutgers Players
1. S Courtney Greene, Sr.
2. WR Kenny Britt, Jr.
3. WR Tiquan Underwood, Sr.
4. DL Jamaal Westerman, Sr.
5. OT Anthony Davis, Soph.
6. QB Mike Teel, Sr.
7. CB Jason McCourty, Sr.
8. LB Kevin Malast, Sr.
9. DT Pete Tverdov, Sr.
10. CB Devin McCourty, Jr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 1 Fresno State
Sept. 6 OPEN DATE
Sept. 11 North Carolina
Sept. 20 at Navy
Sept. 27 Morgan State
Oct. 4 at West Virginia
Oct. 11 at Cincinnati
Oct. 18 Connecticut
Oct. 25 at Pitt
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Syracuse
Nov. 15 at South Florida
Nov. 22 Army
Nov. 28 OPEN DATE
Dec. 4 Louisville
2007 Record: 8-5
South Florida W 30-27
at Louisville L 41-38
Jan. 5 Ball State W 52-30
It’s a sign of
the times in Piscataway that eight wins is seen as
underachieving, but more was expected after the Scarlet Knights
appeared to be in a position to contend for a league title and a
BCS spot. Instead, they beefed up on a rotten out of conference
schedule and wound up in a fifth place tie with Louisville and
Pittsburgh, two schools that didn’t even go bowling. Now it’s
about recapturing the swagger they had two years ago and not
losing any more ground to others in the improving league.
If the Scarlet Knights are going to get back to competing for a
spot in a BCS bowl game, they’ll do so without two of their most
influential players, RB Ray Rice and DT Eric Foster and will
have to change things up a bit offensively.
Rice, in particular, leaves a gaping void in the offense that’ll
potentially be filled by a slew of unproven backs, but the
passing game has the parts to be prolific and will have to carry
the team for a while. That means QB Mike Teel will become the
team’s signature player, at least he has to be, but he’s been an
enigma who saves his best games for the cushiest opponents.
On defense, the Scarlet Knights have the potential to be
downright nasty, provided they can solidify things up the
middle. Middle linebacker Ryan D’Imperio is a first-year starter
and the tackle tandem of Pete Tverdov and Jamaal Westerman could
struggle against north-south running games, but head coach Greg
Schiano always get his defenses to play well
While Rutgers is hardly at a crossroads, Schiano’s team needs to
begin flexing its muscles again. It’s not going to be easy
without Rice and Foster, especially in a year with trips to West
Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. A fourth
consecutive bowl game is within reach, but it won’t be one of
the high-profile games that Schiano has targeted as the next
step in the program’s evolution unless everything comes
together. Considering where Rutgers was at just a few years ago,
getting an extra game isn’t all that bad.
What to watch for on offense: The receivers. After
relying so much on Ray Rice to carry the offense, now Rutgers
could have both first team All-Big East receiving slots occupied
by Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. It’s not like the offense
will stop running the ball, but the bread will now be buttered
with the passing game. With these two targets to work with,
there’s no reason to go with anything else in tight games.
What to watch for on defense: Pressure in the backfield. There
might be a slew of problems stopping the run early on, and the
linebacking corps might be a bit suspect, but there should be no issues
when it comes to getting to the quarterback and making plays behind the
line. Greg Schiano’s defenses are great at attacking, and even though
this is a relatively young, inexperienced group overall, the dogs will
be sent early and often to try and be disruptive. Jamaal Westerman has
Big East Defensive Player of the Year potential.
The team will be far better if… Teel is as productive in league
games as he is against non-conference pushovers. Teel’s 2007 numbers
look respectable overall, but more than half of his 20 touchdowns came
against Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State, and Ball State, while disappearing
acts versus the Big East were too common. Part of the reason was the
reliance on Ray Rice and the running game, but if the team is to regain
its 2006 momentum, it needs Teel to be the main man and the reason why
the offense works. More importantly, Teel now
needs to rise to the occasion against the tougher teams on the
Picking up a loaded Fresno State at the last moment in the season-opener
will show just how good the
Scarlet Knights are from the start. Playing North Carolina and at Navy
aren't going to be easy, and then there's October with the Big East
schedule kicking off with three road games in four weeks playing at West
Virginia, Cincinnati and Pitt. The other conference road game is at
South Florida in November; hardly a breather. Fortunately there are two
off weeks in November and three home games in the final four.
WR Kenny Britt. Britt gave a hint of his potential as a freshman before
erupting as a sophomore. A fluid, 6-4 target with a long stride, he
abused Big East defensive backs for 62 receptions, a school-record 1,232
yards, and eight touchdowns. Often looking like a man among boys, Britt
teamed up with Tiquan Underwood to form the most dynamic receiving duo
in team history.
Best defensive player: S Courtney Greene. He covers. He fills the
lanes and delivers punishment in run defense. He intimidates opposing
receivers. Greene does a little bit of everything for the Knight D,
including putting off the NFL Draft and returning for his senior season.
A durable and complete defender who’s capable of playing free safety or
strong safety, he led the team with 101 tackles.
Key players to a successful season: The running backs. Rutgers
won’t be shy about turning loose the passing attack, but any Big East
team with championship aspirations knows it needs to run the ball. No
single back is going to replace Rice’s production, so it’ll be up to
multiple runners to pick up the slack. Kordell Young is the heir
apparent, but he first needs to prove that his surgically repaired knee
is healthy. Keep an eye on Mason Robinson, a Young clone, and Jourdan
Brooks, a 255-pound pile driver.
The season will be a success if ... the Scarlet Knights return to
that small group of Big East contenders right behind West Virginia.
While going 8-5 and winning a second straight bowl game is respectable,
falling behind Connecticut and Cincinnati in the league standings isn’t.
The coaching staff believes Rutgers is the biggest threat to the
Mountaineers, but now it must go out and prove it in tough road trips to
Morgantown, Cincinnati, Tampa, and Pittsburgh.
Oct. 4 at West Virginia. It won’t take very long to learn if the Scarlet
Knights are going to be Big East pretenders or contenders. It’s the Big
East opener and a chance to pull off the program’s first win over the
Mountaineers for the first time since 1994. A loss here likely means the
BCS dreams will be over before they can really begin.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Rutgers 41 for 278 yards – Opponents 11 for 91 yards
- Fumbles: Opponents 20 (lost 10) – Rutgers 14 (lost 12)
- Average yards per play: Rutgers 6.4 – Opponents 4.9