#82 Rutgers Football Preview

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Overall Rank: #82
#8 Big East

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2010 Record: (4-8, 1-7)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Greg Schiano (59-63 at Rutgers, 59-63 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Frank Cignetti
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Fraser

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Thomas, RB, 417 yards
Passing: Chas Dodd, QB, 1,637 yards
Receiving: Mark Harrison, WR, 829 yards
Tackles: Steve Beauharnais, LB, 79
Sacks: Justin Francis, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: Khaseem Greene, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: DE Manny Abreu, RB Jeremy Deering, G Art Forst, TE D.C. Jefferson, FB Joe Martinek, S David Rowe, WR Mohamed Sanu, OT Desmond Stapleton, DT Scott Vallone, G Desmond Wynn

Key Losses: C Howard Barbieri, CB Brandon Bing, DE Jonathan Freeny, S Joe Lefeged, LB Antonio Lowery, DT Charlie Charlie Noonan, DE Alex Silvestro

Coach Greg Schiano brought in a new offensive coordinator in Frank Cignetti to shake up the Big East’s worst offense a year ago. Former Rutgers running back Joe Martinek is moving to fullback in the pro style attack and that leaves highly touted freshman Savon Huggins as the team’s main rusher. Huggins will team up with former receiver Jeremy Deering to form what could turn into a potent one-two rushing attack. Or so the hope goes. The potential is there, but obviously Huggins and Deering form an unproven duo.

The skill positions are pretty well set and could be very good if Huggins is as good as most expect. Quarterback Chas Dodd cemented his spot as Rutgers quarterback of the present and future. During his freshman campaign he threw for 1,637 yards and 11 touchdowns. Dodd showed plenty of potential and should be a fine quarterback for the Scarlet Knights. With receivers like Mark Harrison and Mohamed Sanu to throw the ball too, Dodd’s job will be much easier. Those two are superb receivers who would put up huge numbers in an offense that passed more often. However, in the new offensive scheme, the numbers may dip, but they will do their job and do it well. Tight end D.C. Jefferson should be in for a huge year in the new offense. Offensive coordinator Cignetti wants to utilize the tight end position and Jefferson is a good one. He is a big 6-6, 258 pound target who Dodd will go to often.

The problem with the offense is the line. The team gave up an amazing 5.08 sacks per game last season. That was the most in the nation and, despite some returning linemen, there is little reason to believe they will be a whole lot better. And if Dodd can stay on his feet, the offense will not have the opportunity to be much better even with the experience gained by the skilled position players. The defense will look different too. Coach Schiano decided his team was too slow and a variety of major players have moved to different positions where their speed would be beneficial. Former linebacker Manny Abreu will move to a defensive end spot and try and boost Rutgers awful pass rush. Nose tackle Scott Vallone should help create space for Abreu, but that may not be enough. Steve Beauharnais is moving to the outside linebacker spot after tallying 79 tackles from the middle a year ago.  A former free safety should help give some more speed to the linebackers as well. How well it all fits together is the big question.  

The Bottom Line:
The switches continue in the secondary where the lone returning starter, David Rowe, moves to the free safety spot after playing at corner last season. Rowe will have to lead the secondary, but there are some experienced players, like Marcus Cooper and Brandon Jones, ready to step into starting roles. The Scarlet Knights have a lot of kinks to work out, but this could be a team that wins six games and reaches a bowl. If the new offense and the defensive switches do not work out, it could be another long season in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 100.92 (110th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 194.00 (79, 4)
Total Offense: 294.92 (114, 8)
Scoring Offense: 20.83 (101, 8)
Rushing Defense: 156.42 (65, 8)
Pass Defense: 217.75 (55, 6)
Total Defense: 374.17 (65, 8)
Scoring Defense: 26.50 (62, 7)
Turnover Margin: .58 (26, 2)
Sacks: 1.42 (94, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 5.08 (120, 8)

Madness 2012 Recruit Rankings
#24 Savon Huggins
#162 Miles Shuler

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