#50 Rutgers Football 2015 Preview

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Overall Rank: #50
#9 Big Ten

Rutgers Team Page#50 Rutgers Football 2015 PreviewBuy Rutgers Football Tickets

Rutgers debut season in the Big Ten went just as well as anybody could have reasonably expected. The Scarlet Knights won five of their first six games, culminating with a 26-24 victory over Michigan. Even at that point, many figured Rutgers would end up 5-7 on the year with the toughest Big Ten teams still on the schedule. Rutgers did lose to Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State quite handily, but they did manage to beat Indiana and Maryland. The result was a trip to the Quick Lane Bowl against North Carolina, where Rutgers added another win.

2014 Record: 8-5, 3-5
2014 Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl vs. North Carolina (W 40-21)
Coach: Kyle Flood (23-16 at Rutgers, 23-16 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ben McDaniels
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Rossi

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Desmond Peoples, RB, 474 yards
Passing: Chris Laviano, QB, 107 yards
Receiving: Leonte Carroo, WR, 1,086 yards
Tackles: Steve Longa, LB, 102
Sacks: Kemoko Turay, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Anthony Cioffi, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Josh Hicks, RB Robert Martin, RB Paul James, RB Justin Goodwin, WR Janarion Grant, K Kyle Federico, LB Quentin Gause, DT Darius Hamilton

Key Losses: QB Gary Nova, TE Tyler Kroft, OL Kaleb Johnson, DB Lorenzo Waters, LB Kevin Snyder, DE David Milewski, DB Gareef Glashen

Rutgers needs to replace four-year starting quarterback Gary Nova. He had a wonderful, albeit inconsistent, career with the Scarlet Knights and threw for 2,851 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior campaign. Nova’s backup in 2014, Chris Laviano, will battle with LSU transfer Hayden Rettig for the starting job. Laviano appears the favorite heading into the fall, but Rettig will get another opportunity to win the job. Whoever is under center will have a lot to work with. Leonte Carroo could have gone to the NFL early after catching 55 passes for 1,086 yards and ten touchdowns. Janarion Grant and Andre Patton are solid secondary options opposite of Carroo. At running back, Rutgers has a wealth of experience. Paul James played very well before his 2014 season was cut short by injury. He rushed for 363 yards and five touchdowns in fewer than four games. Desmon Peoples actually led the team in rushing with 447 yards. Junior Justin Goodwin added 328 yards. However, the most promising backs are sophomores Robert Martin and Josh Hicks. Martin barely saw the field until November, yet still managed to rush for 434 yards and seven touchdowns. In the bowl game he rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Hicks also had 19 carries in the bowl game and totaled 202 yards and score.

The Rutgers defense ranked second to last in the conference allowing 442.8 yards per contest. There is a long way to go to compete with the better teams in the conference. Ohio State dropped 56 points on the Scarlet Knights. Nebraska scored 42, Wisconsin 37 and Michigan State 45. Hopes largely lie on Kemoko Turay, who recorded 7.5 sacks as a freshman. He will team up with tackle Darius Hamilton to provide Rutgers a couple playmakers in the front four. Linebacker Steve Longa is the playmaker at linebacker. He recorded 102 tackles in 2014. Nadir Barnwell is an experienced cornerback who can give Big Ten receivers trouble.

The Bottom Line:
Reaching eight wins again might be a stretch for Rutgers. Home games against Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska will be tough. Non-conference games against Norfolk State, Washington State, Kansas and Army should keep Rutgers in the mix for a bowl game though. However, the Scarlet Knights will need to pick up a win or two on the road against teams like Penn State, Indiana and Michigan. This group has the talent to pull it off and should be able to reach six or seven wins and make their fifth straight bowl game.

Projected Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.6 (63rd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 227.4 (68, 6)
Total Offense: 390.0 (73, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.7 (80, 8)
Rushing Defense: 212.3 (106, 13)
Pass Defense: 230.5 (69, 12)
Total Defense: 442.8 (98, 13)
Scoring Defense: 30.2 (87, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.15 (73, 6)
Sacks: 2.54 (33, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (25, 3)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#95 Leonte Carroo
#99 Keith Lumpkin


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