|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
|New Brunswick, NJ
2012 In Four Sentences Or less
For the second time in seven years Rutgers started the season with a 7+ game winning streak, the other year being 2006. But after the early high the Scarlett Knights plateaued, courtesy of a Kent State shaped bomb. Rutgers had been showing signs of weakness winning close games against obviously inferior sides like USF and Arkansas, but the shock came against KSU. Rutgers went 2-4 in their last 6 games losing to Kent, Pitt, Louisville* and Virginia Tech to take much joy out of an otherwise fantastic opening year for Kyle Flood.
* Mind you a Louisville team with a one handed Teddy Bridgewater. He had his good hand, but still.
Who Is Coming Back?
The offense got off easiest in terms of losses to graduation. Jawan Jamison took his spin move to the NFL, and Mark Harrison graduated after his 17th season in scarlet. But there are big pieces coming back. Brandon Coleman is back to reprise his role as "the most staggeringly massive receiver since Jonathan Baldwin," Gary Nova is back for a third year as the starter and Savon Huggins will get his first real chance playing behind the second best offensive line in the American.
Attrition hit the defense a bit harder. Not only is talismanic Linebacker/predator impersonator Kahseem Greene gone, but so is his line backing running mate Steve Beauharnais and the best player in the secondary, Logan Ryan. In all the Scarlet Knights return five defensive starters, but just two in the back seven. The defensive line should be better than last year’s with Jamill Merrell, Isaac Holmes and Marcus Thompson coming back, but the rest of the defense will be expected to take a slight step back.
What Will They Run?
It’s hard to tell with Ron Prince being brought in to run the offense. Prince favors the running game, or at least he did during his stint as the OC at Virginia. There will be an obvious emphasis on the running game, and building the passing game off those run looks. That should suit the offensive personnel very well, particularly Coleman who stands to benefit greatly from defenses loading up to stop the run.
Last year’s defensive coordinator Robb Smith took a job with Greg Schiano and the Bucs, so Flood promoted from within. Dave Cohen, last years linebacker coach, will take over the play calling duties. Because of that I expect the general structure of the defense to remain largely unchanged. There will be wrinkles from previous iterations of Rutgers defense, but it is far too early to guess what they might be.
Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do
From 2006 to 2010 the Bearcats had Rutgers under a spell. They won five straight contests, by an average score of 31.2 to 16.2. But for the last two years Rutgers has had the Bearcats number. In two years the Bearcats have scored a total of 6 points. This no longer being 1950, no one wins a game scoring 6 points*. If the Bearcats want to win the very first American title, and take the first and only automatic BCS bid for the conference UC will have to find a way to win in Jersey.
*Insert LSU joke here