PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Chas Dodd #19 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies at Rutgers Stadium on October 8, 2010 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
This game isn't attractive to anyone. Lest of all the fans of the respective institutions. I have settled in for the rest of the season with zero expectations. Given all of the problems facing this team in terms of youth and a startling lack of depth at all positions I can only expect this team to play hard. The effort of this team hasn't really come into question. They play hard, but when you have 30 guys that play all the snaps it is an untenable situation, but that is where UC is at right now. Rutgers is in a similar spot as UC. They haven't had the year anyone really expected from them and they have been beset by injuries, almost from the inception of the season.
Rutgers rides on the performance of their defense because their offense to this point has been simply dreadful. They rank eight in the conference in total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense and sixth in passing offense. It all starts up front and the offensive line has been a disaster for a second year running. Last year Rutgers allowed 40 sacks in 13 games, and that was with Anthony Davis. This year with Davis playing in the City by the Bay the line has been even worse, through 9 games they have given up 39. With a line that porous there it is no wonder that Tom Savage has been injured for the majority of they year and Chas Dodd has been thrown to the wolves, quite literally. It is tough to imagine a more inhospitable situation for a true freshman to take over than an offense which possesses no running game to speak of, which puts a ton of pressure on the young QB to perform, even though his skill possession help would best be described as sub par. Dodd has taken the situation and run with it, doing as much with the offense as could be hoped for considering the circumstances. Dodds best game was unquestionably the UConn game where he aired it out to the tune of 322 yards and 2 TD's.
Dodd has started the last five games, though Tom Savage has played in two of the last three games. I don't know this for a fact becuase I didn't watch either of the games in which he played but I presume that Dodd was pulled in both of those game due to ineffectiveness. The Pitt and Syracuse games are the only ones in which Dodd failed to crack 100 yards and had a QB rating in the double digits which lends a bit of credence to my theory.
The running game for the Scarlet Knights is pretty much all wildcat. Mohamed Sanu and Jeremy Deering are both receivers and rank first and third on the team in rushing. Joe Martinek is the back when Rutgers goes with conventional sets to run the Football but he has been largely ineffective doing so. There isn't much to fear about this offense on paper. So they will probably torch UC in every way conceivable because UC's defense is the go to group to jump start an offense, ask South Florida.
On defense Rutgers is pretty average. They play the same style that they have always played under Schiano. Schiano is a acolyte of that Dave Wanstead, Butch Davis school of defense. He believes in getting pressure with his front four and is reluctant to be a heavy blitz scheme. They play a lot of man to man coverage with their corners and usually keep a single high safety. When they blitz they usually do it with a zone blitz look where they drop one or more D Linemen into coverage. They do have some pretty good players on their defense. Antonio Lowrey and Joe Lefedge are one two in tackles and are very gifted players. But the best player on the defense is, in my opinion at least, Alex Silvestro. This is a solid defense, but they aren't great. They don't do any one thing really well which, in theory at least, should be the defense to get Zach Collaros back on track.
This really is a winnable game for UC. These two teams are about equal in terms of outright talent. I am not expecting a win in this game. But I would at, some point, like to have a second Big East victory under the belt going into the off season. There are two realistic chances for that left, Rutgers is one, UConn is the other. Of those two Rutgers looks to be the one because they are struggling like UC and it is at home.