#31 Rutgers Football 2013 Preview

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Overall Rank: #32
#2 American

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Rutgers will spend one season as members of the American Athletic Conference before heading off to the Big Ten. Thanks to a strong defense, the Scarlet Knights should be competing for a conference title. The road will go through Louisville though and a young secondary will be tested on October 10th.

2012 Record: 9-4, 5-2
2012 Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Virginia Tech (L 10-13 OT)
Coach: Kyle Flood (9-4 at Rutgers, 9-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ron Prince
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Cohen

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Savon Huggins, RB, 410 yards
Passing: Gary Nova, QB, 2,695 yards
Receiving: Brandon Coleman, WR, 718 yards
Tackles: Jamal Merrell, LB, 83
Sacks: Jamil Merrell, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Jamal Merrell, LB, 1; Lorenzo Walters, S, 1

Other Key Returnees: FB Michael Burton, OL Antwan Lowery, OL Andre Civil, DT Isaac Holmes, DE Marcus Thompson, LB Kevin Snyder

Key Losses: RB Jawan Jamison, WR Mark Harrison, WR Tim Wright, LB Khaseem Greene, CB Logan Ryan, LB Steve Beauharnais, DT Scott Vallone, CB Brandon Jones

Rutgers allowed just over 14 points per game in 2012 and ranked in the top ten in the country in total defense. The numbers may not end up being quite as impressive in 2013, but they should not fall too much thanks to a very talented front seven. Senior end Jamil Merrell tallied a team high 5.5 sacks and Marcus Thompson is back on the other end. There are high hopes for sophomore tackle Darius Hamilton. He saw significant action off of the bench as a freshman and now it is his turn to shine. Replacing Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais at linebacker will not be easy. Greene totaled 136 tackles last year. But Rutgers has a lot of talent ready to step up. Jamal Merrell is the experienced starter who will be asked to lead the group of linebackers. Redshirt freshman Steve Longa made the move to the middle in the spring and should be in for a very productive freshman campaign. Junior Kevin Snyder has a ton of potential as well and is the likely starter on the weak side.

The secondary will have to rely on some inexperienced players too as three starters need to be replaced. Safety Lorenzo Waters is the lone returning starter, yet Western Michigan transfer Lewis Toler will add some more experience to the unit. He may find himself behind some young talent like redshirt freshman Ian Thomas. If the Scarlet Knights can find enough depth among the defensive backs, the defense will be tough to crack. The offense is another story. Quarterback Gary Nova has been terribly inconsistent. After a nice start to the 2012 season, Nova started throwing interceptions and Rutgers started losing. There are also big questions at running back where Jawan Jamison has graduated after rushing for 1,075 yards. Savon Huggins is a talented back even though his first two seasons have been a bit disappointing. He has not proven that he is capable of handling a full workload and the Scarlet Knights do not have much depth behind him.

The Bottom Line:
What the offense does have is Brandon Coleman. The 6-6 receiver caught 43 passes for 718 yards and ten touchdowns as a sophomore. He is ready to burst onto the national radar as long as Nova can get him the ball every once in a while. With Coleman and tight end Paul Carrezola, the Scarlet Knights have some big, quality targets. If Nova can play like he did at the beginning of 2012 for the entire season, the Rutgers defense is strong enough to give Louisville a run for their money.

Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 121.38 (103rd in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 208.54 (86, 7)
Total Offense: 329.92 (104, 6)
Scoring Offense: 21.46 (96, 6)
Rushing Defense: 97.15 (6, 1)
Pass Defense: 214.46 (39, 4)
Total Defense: 311.62 (10, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.15 (4, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (21, 3)
Sacks: 1.92 (66, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 0.85 (8, 1)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#13 Brandon Coleman

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#235 Nadir Barnwell


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