Down The Drive: With Jawan Jamison likely to be hobbled, if he can play at all, what will the Rutgers offense look like on Saturday?
Jerry Sanchez: Jamison was able to more in practice yesterday so his chances of playing have increased. If he can’t go, sophomore Savon Huggins will get his chance to be the lead back. I would not expect Rutgers to change up their offense too much as they use the run to set up the pass and therefore need to get it going.
DTD: On the same theme will Savon Huggins be able to replicate the success of Jamison?
JS: This of course is an unknown. But Huggins is a highly recruited player – one of the highest rated RBs in the country in the 2011 class – who has talent. He does not have the same shiftiness as Jamison but does possess good cutting ability and is dangerous in space. He has worked hard on lowering his pad level. The feeling is if he can get a big workload his confidence will increase and so will his production. Jamison ran for 200 yards last year against Cincinnati so that will be tough to replicate, but Huggins’ presence will mean that the Bearcats still must respect the run.
DTD: Gary Nova has thrown 8 picks in the last three games and seems to have regressed of late, particularly compared to his early season success. What is going on with Nova.
JS: The Kent State game (six interceptions) was about as bad as it gets. Last week against Army it was hard to tell if he was still slumping or if the staff was calling a very conservative game as there were little throws down field. He will learn very quickly if this was a confidence issue or a coaching decision as I would expect Cincinnati to look to shut down the run game and force Nova to beat them. Of course as much as he has struggled he is only two games removed from four second half touchdown passes against Temple. He is still only a true sophomore so this stretch may be more of a function of that youthful inconsistency than the sign of a bigger problem.
DTD: For all the success of the defense this season is there an area of the game that concerns you coming into this game.
JS: The big play. I expect Cincinnati to run the ball. George Winn has been on a roll of late. However, I think Rutgers will be able to contain him. It will be in the attempts to crowd the line to stop Winn and force pressure on new quarterback Brendon Kay that Rutgers has to not let up big plays. Last week against Temple Kay completed two long touchdown passes of 75 and 65 yards. Much like how they play South Florida’s B.J. Daniels, the Scarlet Knights will have to contain Kay (or Munchie Legaux) and keep the big plays to minimum while forcing mistakes.
DTD: What about this Bearcats team concerns you
JS: Besides Rutgers recent offensive issues, Rutgers has not won at Nippert Stadium since the Bearcats joined the Big East. It is a tough place to play and I am hoping the noon start, mitigates some of the home field advantage.