2010 Record: (4-8, 1-6 in Big East)
Head Coach: Greg Schiano (59-63 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl (beat UCF 45-24)
CFBZ Rutgers Links
9/1: North Carolina Central
9/10: at UNC (2010 result: lost 17-13)
10/1: at Syracuse (2010 result: lost 13-10)
10/8: Pittsburgh (2010 result: lost 41-21)
10/21: at Louisville (2010 result: lost 40-13)
10/29: West Virginia (2010 result: lost 35-14)
11/5: USF (2010 result: lost 28-27)
11/12: at Army (2010 result: won 23-20 OT)
11/19: Cincinnati (2010 result: lost 69-38)
11/26: at UConn (2010 result: won 27-24)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 20.8 ppg (last in Big East, 101st in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 100.92 yds/game (last in Big East, 111th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 194.0 yds/game (4th in Big East, 79th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 294.9 yds/game (last in Big East, 114th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 26.5 ppg (7th in Big East, 62nd in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 156.42 yds/game (last in Big East, 65th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 217.8 yds/game (6th in Big East, 55th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 374.2 yds/game (last in Big East, 65th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.58 per game (2nd in Big East, 26th in Nation)
Penalties: 50.4 yds/game (4th in Big East, 51st in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Chas Dodd, Soph (123 of 223 for 1637 yds, 11 TD, 7 INT)
Rushing: RB Jeremy Deering, Soph (77 for 352 yds, 2 TD)
Receiving: WR Mark Harrison, Jr (44 rec for 829 yds, 9 TD)
Receiving: WR Mohamed Sanu, Jr (44 rec for 418, 2 TD)
Tackles: LB Steve Beauharnais, Jr (79)
Sacks: LB Steve Beauharnais, Jr; NT Scott Vallone, Jr (1.5)
Interceptions: LB Khaseem Greene, Sr (2)
Athlon Sports: None
Phil Steele: Pinstripe Bowl (vs. Baylor)
When Greg Schiano took over at Rutgers he battled through four losing seasons before posting a winning record in 2005 and taking the team to their first bowl game since 1978. Rutgers then preceded to run off five straight bowl games winning four straight. In 2010, the Scarlet Knights took a dip as they finished 4-8 and only won one Big East Conference game. The defense took a big step back as they gave up 8.6 more points game than the previous year and also gave up 67 more yards. In addition to that the offense also took a step back as Rutgers scored 8 less points than the year before. That's a 16 point swing per game, which will dampen anybody's season. According to Phil Steele, Rutgers returns the second most experienced team in the Big East. Will Rutgers be able to turn their team back around after one down year? We talked with Jerry of RFootballBlog.com and NJ.com. Make sure you follow him on the Twitter Machine at @RUFANJERRY to keep up with Rutgers and the Big East this year (you can also follow us @CFBZ).
Rutgers went from 9-4 in 2009 to 4-8 in 2010. What were the biggest issues with last year’s team and what has been done to try and fix those this off-season?
Rutgers started the season by replacing three starters on the offensive line, two of which went on to the NFL, including first rounder Anthony Davis. From the early going Rutgers struggled to run the ball effectively, which allowed defenses to tee-off on the quarterbacks in unfavorable 2nd and 3rd and long situations. To help the offensive line, the team then began to rely on the Wild Knight – Rutgers' version of the Wildcat – to move the ball using its best athletes – WRs Mohamed Sanu and Jeremy Deering. This created a disjointed offense that often put the offensive line and quarterback in unfavorable positions. Rutgers was last in the nation in sacks and 110th in rush offense as it struggled to keep sustained drives throughout the year.
Of course, the biggest blow to the team came on October 16th against Army when DT Eric Legrand was injured and paralyzed while making a tackle on special teams. The injury not only weakened the depth of the defensive line but clearly shook the psyche of an aggressive defense that mirrored the hard-nose style of play of Legrand. No one can truly know the impact the injury had on these players emotionally. However, towards the end of the season, worn down by an offense that could not stay on the field long and plagued by uncharacteristically poor tackling, the defense gave way. Rutgers did not win another game after the overtime win versus Army.
The coaching staff addressed many of the issues in the offseason. Offensively, they brought in former Pittsburgh Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. who will bring back a pro-style offense. The arrival of freshmen RB Savon Huggins should jump start the running game and a talented group of receivers hope to create mismatches for opposing defenses looking to bring pressure.
Defensively, the Scarlet Knights addressed key personnel issues in an attempt to increase the team speed needed to combat today’s spread offenses. Last year’s starters Khaseem Greene has been moved to week side linebacker from safety, linebacker Manny Abreu to defensive end from linebacker and Steve Beauharnais from middle linebacker to the outside where he excelled as a freshman two years ago.
Rutgers had a really good year recruiting (according to Scout.com they landed 1 5-Star prospect and 3 4-Star prospects). Do you think any of these freshman will have an impact this year?
RB Savon Huggins has been rated as high as a top five player in the country by some sources. He is the consensus number one player in the state and is expected to contribute immediately. A lot had been built around him. The offense, led by new Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., will go back to a pro-style offense used when Ray Rice was at Rutgers a few years back. The leading rushers from the last two seasons have been moved to other positions to clear way for Huggins. WR Miles Shuler is another player who will contribute. Since Rutgers is pretty deep at wide receiver with Mohamed Sanu, Mark Harrison and the soon-to-breakout Brandon Coleman, it may take some time for Shuler – a true speedster – to get on the field as he learns the position (played QB in High School). However, the Army All-American brings too much to the table with his speed and will be part of a receiving unit that will cause mismatches for opposing defenses. Other candidates for playing time as freshmen include defensive lineman Djwany Mera and Max Isaaka.
After a solid rookie season, Tom Savage had a disappointing 2010 and has left the program. Chas Dodd took over the reigns at QB last year, what are your overall thoughts on him as a QB and as a leader of this team?
Savage transferring was an unfortunate fallout of Rutgers 4-8 season. After leading Rutgers to a 9-4 record and a bowl victory as a true freshman, the highly touted quarterback was expected to take the program to the next level. However, from the early reports in camps it did not seem that he made the expected progression in the offseason you’d expect. This left the door open for the gutsy Dodd. Dodd, who had not been heavily recruited out of a national powerhouse high school in South Carolina because of his size – listed at six feet - and skepticism of his numbers being a product of a system, showed command and poise from his arrival.
When the season started the offensive line struggled mightily. Savage was sacked hard and often. He also seemed to struggle to make the quick read to a secondary receiver, many times tucking the ball down to run. He was injured early in the campaign, and Dodd came in. Dodd, who took his lumps as well, would spread the ball around more and get rid of it quicker, making him a better fit to deal with a struggling offense.
The real issue with Dodd in 2011 is, in addition to his size, with Savage transferring Rutgers will have two incoming freshmen most likely battling for the true back-up position. With questions at the offensive line, Scarlet Knight fans will be on edge all season when Dodd goes down.
What is the one team that Scarlet Knight fans want to beat more than any other this year?
West Virginia. The Scarlet Knights have lost 16 straight games to the Mountaineers. More often than not the road to a Big East Championship goes through Morgantown. Plain and simple if you want to win the conference you better beat West Virginia. This season’s game is at Rutgers.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
The second game of the season at North Carolina will be a true test for the offensive line. For a unit that was put in many difficult positions last year gaining early confidence is paramount. Success breeds confidence and confidence breeds success. A good showing against the Tar Heels could carry into conference play. The next big indicator of where things will be heading will take place on October 8th as the Scarlet Knights open up conference play on the road in Syracuse. Having lost to the Orangemen the last two seasons Rutgers will look to start off Big East play with some momentum.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
The Big East had a down year last year. People tend to forget when you lose coaches as the league did over the past few years with Rich Rodriguez, Bobby Petrino, Brian Kelly and others turning over, you will have set backs in recruiting. Now as the newer coaches like Charlie Strong, Skip Holtz, Doug Marrone and Butch Jones settle in so will their coaching styles on their new own recruits now in their programs. This means that while Rutgers will improve in 2011, so to will the rest of the conference. As such it will be hard to make a win-loss mandate for this team. Considering the youth at some key positions, most fans would agree that a successful season would be one that left the feeling that team will be ready to keep for a title in 2012. My gut feeling is an 8-5 season in 2011.
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