2008 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Preview
Rutgers 2007 Record: (8-5, 3-4 Big East)
2007 Bowl: International Bowl vs. Ball State (W 52-30)
Rutgers Head Coach: Greg Schiano (38-46 at Rutgers, 38-46 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John McNulty
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Schiano
Returning Leaders for Rutgers:
Other Key Returnees: WR Tim Brown, DE George Johnson, LB Kevin Malast, CB Jason McCourty, LB Damaso Munoz, WR Tiquan Underwood, DE Gary Watts
Key Losses: OT Mike Fladell, DT Eric Foster, S Ron Girault, K Jeremy Ito, RB Ray Rice, LB Brandon Renkart, OT Pedro Sosa, G Jeremy Zuttah
The big question surrounding the Rutgers football program is how to replace running back Ray Rice. Rice rushed for 2,012 yards last season before heading off to the NFL and he made the offense go. In fact, it can be argued that Rice has had a lot to do with the recent success of the Scarlet Knights. Kordell Young, who has been battling injuries, and Mason Robinson have the unenviable job of replacing Rice.
More 2008 Big East football previews:
There are some major strengths on this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball where eight starters return. Safety Courtney Greene could have gone pro, but will return for his senior season after tallying a team high 101 tackles. With the McCourty twins, Jason and Devin on the corners, the nation’s fifth best pass defense last season should only be better. The secondary does lose safety Ron Girault, but sophomore Joe Lefeged showed last year that he should be ready to take over the starting job. One does not usually put Rutgers in the same category as Texas Tech and Hawaii, but those are the only three teams who had two 1,000 yard receivers last season. Rutgers returns both Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood.
However, it was the running game that opened up the passing game for quarterback Mike Teel and everything will be different this year without Rice. Teel and the offense depended on Rice to make plays when the offense was not moving. Now it will be Teel’s job to make plays. A few less turnovers would help too. The senior has plenty of experience, but he will need to find some more consistency. Making it more difficult is the fact that both lines need to be revamped. The offensive line lost three starters, including Jeremy Zuttah. The defensive line will have to find a replacement for Eric Foster, who was a one man wreaking crew in the backfield, totaling 7.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss during his senior campaign.
The Bottom Line for the Scarlet Knights:
Coach Greg Schiano will not let his team take a big step back. The recruiting has been better than ever over the last few years and the influx of young talent will keep this team in the mix for a Big East championship. The defense will win games for Rutgers, but as long as Young and Robinson can do a decent job on the ground, the offense will have plenty of firepower.
By Joel Welser
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