Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Rutgers Preview
2008 Rutgers Depth
2007 CFN Rutgers Preview
2006 CFN Rutgers Preview
need to know:
Now life has begun without Ray Rice, the attack will be forced
to find a new horse in the backfield while reinventing the
offense a little bit. While the O will continue to strive for
balance, it’ll be tempting to completely turn things over to a
passing game that’s home to a third-year starter under center
and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers. Now more than ever, the onus
is on Teel to break through with the best season of his life,
and the pressure will be on from the start. Three starters are
gone from the offensive line, but one holdover, new LT Anthony
Davis, is poised for a special sophomore season.
Passing: Mike Teel
203-349, 3,147 yds, 20 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Jabu Lovelace
82 carries, 332 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Tiquan Underwood
65 catches, 1,100 yds, 7 TD
Star of the
offense: Junior WR Kenny Britt
Davis. While Sosa and Zuttah were outstanding tackles, Davis has
an All-American ceiling and will eventually be better. If
nothing else this fall, Teel’s backside will be well protected
by one rising young stars of the Big East.
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore RB
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman G Caleb Ruch
Best pro prospect: Sophomore T Anthony Davis
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Britt 2) Senior WR
Tiquan Underwood 3) Davis
Strength of the offense: The receivers
Weakness of the offense: The backs, Inexperience of the
Projected Starter: Although senior Mike Teel
took a big step forward in his development as the starter,
he still needs to do more, especially now that Heisman candidate
Ray Rice is off to the NFL, and he has to be more consistent. He
had plenty of highlights as a junior, playing through pain to
throw for 3,147 yards, a school-record 20 touchdowns and 13
interceptions as a key cog in a record-setting attack. However,
peeling the onion on Teel’s numbers reveals he feasted on the
likes of Norfolk State and Ball State, while throwing more picks
than touchdown passes in Big East play. A pure drop-back passer
at 6-4 and 220 pounds, he has the arm strength and complements
at receiver to be the offensive hero in his final season in
Projected Top Reserves: Teel is no threat to tuck
it and run, which creates situational opportunities for 6-2,
205-pound junior Jabu Lovelace. The Scarlet Knights’
second leading rusher a year ago with 332 yards and four
touchdowns, Lovelace excelled in packages designed to leverage
his speed and elusiveness in the open field. The likely starter
in 2009, he has only thrown 24 career passes and should get more
opportunities to show off his quick release and powerful right
The battle for the No. 3 job will be between sophomore Chris
Paul-Etienne and junior Domenic Natale. While the
staff loves Paul-Etienne’s potential as a dual-threat, Natale
has been an enigma who has yet to approach his advanced billing
as one of the nation’s top prep passers.
Watch Out For…Teel to emerge as the face of the
offense. For all of his problems with interceptions, he is a
senior and one of the vocal leaders of the offense. With Rice
out of the picture, Teel will step into the spotlight,
commanding a much bigger role than the last two years.
Strength: Downfield passing. Teel shows nice touch
on his deep balls making great use of the field-stretching speed
of Tiquan Underwood, Kenny Britt, and Tim Brown. Underwood and
Britt averaged at least 17 yards a catch, which he helped by
yards after the catch along with the deep ball.
Weakness: Consistency. Particularly in big games,
Teel has shown a tendency to disappear, or worse, turn the ball
over. He’s still prone to making poor reads and forcing the
ball, bad habits that have to be eliminated.
Outlook: This is Teel’s team. Now a senior and a
third-year starter, he must step out of the background and lead
an offense that’ll be searching for a new identity without Rice.
Projected Starters: The Scarlet Knights begin life
after Ray Rice a year earlier than they would have hoped. As
anticipated, the All-American bolted for the NFL Draft meaning
sophomore Kordell Young would be the obvious choice
before he tore his ACL in Week 3 last September. Before the
injury, the 5-9, 185-pounder was a gamebreaker capable of taking
a pitch or a swing pass and jetting into the secondary. Young
sat out spring to continue his rehabilitation, so it won’t be
known until August whether he’s lost any zip or cutback
Sophomore Mason Robinson has already drawn even with
Young atop the depth chart and will have a chance to win the job
in August. The 5-10, 180-pounder played in 10 games as a true
freshman, gaining 202 yards on 36 carries and showing off some
of the fastest wheels on the roster.
At fullback, junior Jack Corcoran and sophomore Andres
Morales will battle it out all summer after splitting time
last season. At 6-1 and 230 pounds, Corcoran has a similar skill
set as former Scarlet Knight Brian Leonard, yet didn’t carry the
ball in 2007 and caught just five passes. He can help his
chances by becoming a more physical lead blocker, a tall order
considering his size.
Morales, on the other hand, is a 6-2, 250-pound masher with no
designs of getting his hands on the ball. A converted defensive
end, he becomes the equivalent of an extra guard when Rutgers
lines up in short yardage.
Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshmen
Jourdan Brooks and Joe Martinek will all be looking
to step out of Rice’s shadow and begin authoring their own
legacy at Rutgers. At 6-1 and 255 pounds, Brooks is the Knights’
biggest option in the running game, a back who reminds Greg
Schiano of former Penn State great Curtis Enis. Surprisingly
fast for such a large player, he offers a different look for
The 2006 Player of the Year in New Jersey, Martinek left high
school as the state’s all-time leading rusher. At 6-0 and 210
pounds, he’s a no-nonsense, north-south runner who rarely goes
down on first contact.
Watch Out For… a running game by committee. Gone
for now are the days when one back carries the ball more than
300 times, a la Rice the past two seasons. There isn’t a runner
of that caliber or durability, meaning the touches will get
spread out over at least two players.
Strength: The future. Things may be unsettled in
the near term, but the big-play ability of Young and Robinson
combined with the power of Brooks and Martinek could give
Rutgers a thunder and lightning rotation for the next three
Weakness: Experience. The Knights’ active rushing
leader is QB Jabu Lovelace. Behind Lovelace is Young, who’s
recovering from major knee surgery. Yes, Rice had an extra year
Outlook: While Rutgers has recruited well at the
position, the combination of losing Rice and all-league tackles
Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah spells a down year for the running
game. Out of the quartet of contenders, someone has to emerge as
a go-to back who can handle 25 carries when needed. That might
take half the season to figure out.
Projected Starters: Led by a pair of 1,000-yard
targets, senior Tiquan Underwood and junior Kenny
Britt, Rutgers brings back its top four pass-catchers.
Underwood was sensational in his first year as a full-timer
catching 65 passes for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns while
cutting down dramatically on his drops. At 6-2 and 180 pounds,
he’s an athletic mismatch for most corners. As long as he keeps
hanging on to the ball, he should blossom into an even more
After two seasons, Britt has quietly emerged as one of the
nation’s premier wideouts thanks to a combination of great speed
and huge hands in a 6-4, 205-pound body. In a memorable
breakthrough season, he pulled down 62 passes for a
school-record 1,232 yards and eight touchdowns highlighted by a
12-catch, 173-yard, two touchdown day late in the year against
Louisville. Britt’s 19.9 average yards per catch ranked second
nationally among players with at least 50 receptions.
Senior TE Kevin Brock did a decent job of replacing Clark
Harris, catching 23 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns,
with most coming down the stretch. A former wide receiver, the
6-5, 250-pounder showed off the soft hands and crisp route
running that’ll earn even more looks from Teel as defenses
commit to stopping the outside receivers. He could be the team’s
breakout offensive weapon.
Projected Top Reserves: Undersized Florida
speedsters Tim Brown and Dennis Campbell are
mirror images of one another. Brown, a junior, is the third man
in the rotation used as a dangerous slot receiver catching 24
passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Although only 5-8 and
160 pounds, he has the bona fide 4.2 speed who doesn’t get
touched in the open field.
Campbell can also fly, but the junior is raw with iffy hands
forcing him to be used mostly on special teams. After dropping
more balls than he caught a year ago, he needs to win back the
coaching staff’s confidence in order to earn more touches.
Like Brock, sophomore Shamar Graves is a converted
receiver trying to add more weight and make a permanent home at
tight end. Still just 6-3 and 230 pounds, the offensive coaches
are intrigued by his toughness and ability to go up and pluck
balls out of the air. Graves should improve upon last year’s
three grabs in his final audition before taking over the
starting job in 2009.
Watch Out For…Brock. He came on as his playing
time increased catching all of his 23 passes in the final nine
games. With defenses paying so much attention to Underwood and
Britt on the outside, Brock will play pitch-and-catch with Teel
all day in the middle of the field.
Strength: Long balls. Underwood and Britt are two
of the better deep threats in the Big East, and they just happen
to run patterns at the same time. Teel’s strong arm and comfort
with his receivers is a lethal combination that makes even
quality secondaries defenseless.
Weakness: Depth after Brown. Campbell has been a
disappointment and none of the other receivers on the roster
have caught a pass. That means is rookie receivers, such as
Keith Stroud and Malcolm Johnson, could scale the
depth chart and fill a need on the two-deep.
Outlook: The receivers have come a long way in one
year to become the most explosive unit on the Rutgers roster.
Britt and Underwood form a virtually unstoppable pair of
sluggers who eliminate the possibility of double teams. Both are
poised for monster statistical seasons as Teel’s favorite
targets, while Brock will surprise with 40 receptions of his
Projected Starters: The line has to replace
All-Big East tackles Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah along with LG
Mike Fladell. The new cornerstone of the front wall will be
massive sophomore Anthony Davis, a 6-6, 325-pound budding
superstar who’s making the move from right guard to left tackle.
As good as advertised, he started the final eight games as a
true freshman, showing off the brute force and light feet that
make the coaching staff giddy.
Davis will be joined at tackle by senior Mike Gilmartin,
whose 28 games of experience include just a single start two
years ago. A versatile 6-5 and 290 pounds, he needs to prove he
can handle the regular gig at tackle in order to avoid getting
jumped by the next generation of recruits.
The stability at the pivot can be traced to the return of junior
Ryan Blaszczyk, a 13-game starter who exceeded
expectations as Darnell Stapleton’s successor. With a full year
of experience, the 6-4 and 285-pound converted defensive tackle
should be even more effective in his second full season handling
The favorites to take over at guard are junior Kevin Haslam
on the left side and redshirt freshman Caleb Ruch on the
right side. Seemingly ready for a promotion after starting
games at guard and tackle in 2007, he’s one of the best athletes
of the linemen. However, at 6-7 and 280 pounds, Haslam needs to
add more bulk to avoid getting obliterated by powerful tackles
who play with leverage.
While Ruch may eventually be the program’s answer at center, for
now, he has a great shot of contributing at guard. One of the
highlights of the 2007 recruiting class, the 6-4, 290-pounder is
explosive off the snap and tough enough to hold up at the point
Projected Top Reserves: The most experienced
backup is sophomore G Mo Lange, a 6-7, 315-pound product
of Germany who saw action in 13 games on special teams. Still
very raw, but with a ton of potential, the Knights do like his
potential to evolve into an important part of the rotation.
The other No. 2 guard will be 6-5, 290-pound sophomore Howard
Barbieri, who has made up a lot of ground since walking on
to the program. He played a little tackle and blocking tight end
before settling in as one of the Knights’ backups at guard.
Plenty is expected of redshirt freshmen tackles Desmond
Stapleton and Richard Muldrow. Although neither has
played a down, both flash the potential to push for a starting
job if Gilmartin leaves an opening. Even though he’s 6-5 and 320
pounds, Stapleton looks comfortable on the move and gets down
the line in a hurry. If he can transform more fat to muscle,
Muldrow is also an imposing figure at 6-6 and 300 pounds,
possessing the kind of frame that coaches crave in a tackle.
He’s a little behind Stapleton in terms of development, but has
the long reach and upper body strength to believe his best days
Watch Out For… incoming freshman T Art Forst.
Forst didn’t graduate early and take part in his first spring
drills to redshirt this year. One of the nation’s top prospects,
he’s 6-8 and 290 pounds, and capable of being the second true
freshman in as many years to crack the two-deep.
Weakness: Depth. While the coaching staff loves
the upside of the kids on the second unit, there’s a little too
much emphasis on youth on the B team and not nearly enough
experience. If injuries strike the regulars, the Knight offense
will be in big trouble.
Outlook: After back-to-back rock solid years, the
line could be a bit vulnerable up front. The departure of Rice
at running back and question marks on the right side mean the
Knights won’t dominate in the trenches like recent years.