College Football Preview: The 2014 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Improvement on both sides of the ball is a key to Rutgers success in the Big Ten.
2014 College Football Preview
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights look to surprise in their first season in the Big Ten.
Overview: On any given Saturday The Scarlet Knights could score and defend but neither was strong enough over the second half of 2013. Kyle Flood brought in Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator in the hope of developing an efficient and consistent scoring unit.
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Offense: I expect Gary Nova to improve over 2013 where he threw for 2,159 yards with 18 TD's an 14 INT's on 54.5% and if he doesn't the team won't win in the Big Ten. With Brandon Coleman gone Tyler Kroft and Leonte Carroo become the top options in the receiving corps after combining for over 1,000 yards a year ago. Paul James (156-881) was easily the most explosive runner with Justin Goodwin (111-521) providing complimentary yardage. The O-Line has plenty of experience with five of the top six back including All AAC C Betim Bujari.
Defense: The defense was less then steller and most of blame can be traced back to a faulty pass D that gave up yards in bunches. The defensive line didn't help with an okay pass rush but perhaps the line can squeeze out a bit more pressure on the quarterback with DT Darius Hamilton getting in to the backfield enough to log 11.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks. The top three linebackers are back with a combined 23.5 TFL and six sacks so there is potential in this group. Of the eight players that saw the field in at least 12 games in the secondary six return. Good news if the experience pays off with an improved performance.
Special Teams: The Scarlet Knights need more accuracy from PK Kyle Federico (12-18) while a new punter must be found. Janarion Grant is an outstanding returner with touchdowns on both punt and kick returns.
Outlook: After watching this team closely in 2013 I don't know if this team returns to a Bowl in the first season as a member of the Big Ten. My gut says they fall short but this isn't a predictable squad.