Big East

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 9-4, 3-4
Bowl Game: St. Petersburg Bowl (W 45-24 vs. Central Florida)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 4th Big East
Offensive rank: 97
Defensive rank: 18

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Joe Martinek, 967 yards, 9 TD
Passing: BTom Savage, 2,211 yards, 14 TD, 7 INT
Receiving: 1,150 yards, 9 TD
Tackles: Damaso Munoz, 81 total tackles; Devin McCourty, 80 total tackles
Sacks: Jonathan Freeny, 9.5 sacks (9 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Billy Anderson, David Rowe, Damaso Munoz, Khaseem Greene, 2 interceptions each

2010 Season Outlook

Schedule
(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 25 vs. North Carolina In 2008, the Tarheels walloped the Scarlet Knights by the score of 44-12. This will be a showdown of defenses and while neither team fielded a top notch offense in 2009, Rutgers seems to have the advantage on offense in the impending matchup.

November 20 @ Cincinnati: The Bearcats have not lost to Rutgers since 2005. Cincy even ended the Scarlet Knights' 9-0 start in 2006. Their only other loss that season came a couple of weeks later in their regular season finale when they fell to…

December 4 @ West Virginia:Rutgers has come a long way since Greg Schiano took over as head coach in 2001, but since 1995, the Scarlet Knights have not beaten West Virginia. This could be a very important game in terms of the final conference standings.

December 4 @ Cincinnati: Pitt and Cincy are thought to be primary candidates to take the 2010 Big East title. Although not officially, this regular season finale could prove to be the Big East championship game.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)

AP: N/A

Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Tim Brown, WR; Anthony Davis, OT; Ryan Blaszczyk, C; George Johnson, DE; Ryan D'Imperio, LB; Demaso Munoz, LB; Devin McCourty, CB

Key Returning Players

Tom Savage, QB; Joe Martinek, RB; Mohamed Sanu, WR; Jonathan Freeny, DE; Alex Silvestro, DE; Scott Vallone, DT; Antonio Lowery, LB; Joe Lefeged, S

Offensive Overview

The loss of Anthony Davis leaves a big gap on the offensive line, but Desmond Stapleton has stepped up this spring. Former walk-on Ryan Blaszczyk injured his knee in the spring, but should be back for the summer and is listed as the starting center on the latest depth chart. The line will look to protect Tom Savage, who enters 2010 as perhaps the top quarterback in the Big East. The offensive line ranked 108th in the nation in sacks allowed in 2009, letting up an average of three sacks a game. Keeping Savage upright is a major concern coming into this season.

Wide receiver Tim Brown was not drafted this past April, but figures to make the New York Giants squad as an undrafted free agent. His departure left a bit of uncertainty in the passing game. Sophomore Mohamed Sanu is solid, but after that, there was some question as to who would step up to provide Savage with additional targets. Mark Harrison performed well this spring and is listed as a starter opposite Sanu, and the rest of the wide receivers corps has also played well. In the running game, Joe Martinek could be joined by a few incoming freshmen. Martinek went for nearly 1,000 yards last season and has been a consistent player for the Scarlett Knights, but has not been that driving force in the running game.

Defensive Overview

The defense saw the loss of All-Big East first team cornerback Devin McCourty, as well linebackers Ryan D'Imperio and last year's leading tackler Damaso Munoz. George Johnson, who recorded 6.5 sacks last season is also gone. But there is plenty left in the cupboard for the Scarlet Knights to meet defensive expectations set by last season's 18th ranked defense that let up just over 300 yards and 17 points (16th ranked scoring defense) in 2009.

Jonathan Freeny led the team with 9.5 sacks in 2009 and along with Alex Silvestro, is listed atop the post-spring depth chart at defensive end. The defensive line is the strength of this defense with talented starters and reserves. Steve Beauharnais at middle and Antonio Lowery and Manny Abreu on the outside give Rutgers a talented starting linebackers crew, although some predict somewhat of a rotation. In the secondary, David Rowe and Brandon Bing are listed as the starting cornerbacks with Logan Ryan mentioned as a possible challenger for one of those spots following an impressive spring.

Special Teams Overview

There should not be any surprises in the punting or kicking duties this season. Teddy Dellaganna will keep his punting job, while San San Te will again handle kicking duties. Dellaganna averaged a solid 42.25 yards per punt last year and Te hit all 39 of his extra point attempts and went 18 for 28 in field goals. Te was 2 for 8 from beyond 40 yards and an improvement in long range field goals couldn't hurt.

Head Coach:Greg Schiano

Greg Schiano became the head coach at Rutgers after accepting the position on December 1, 2000. He served as defensive coordinator under Butch Davis at Miami for the previous two seasons, leading the 'Canes to a couple of the nation's most imposing scoring defenses in his two years. Rutgers finished with losing records in Schiano's first four seasons in Piscataway, winning just three conference games in that stretch.

In 2005, Schiano led his Scarlet Knights to a winning record and bowl appearance for the first time. His team finished with an 11-2 record and finished ranked 12th nationally in 2006. He's led Rutgers to at least eight wins and a bowl game victory in each of the last four seasons. With another promising squad and a young quarterback with a bright future, we can expect more of the same in 2010.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Jonathan Freeny, DE; Joe Lefeged, S; Teddy Dellaganna, P

Season Prediction

4th Big East

It probably will not decide the Big East champion, but the December 4 showdown between Rutgers and West Virginia should have some implication near the top of the conference's final standings. Of course, if WVU challenges Pitt and Cincy for conference supremacy, Rutgers would have the opportunity to play spoiler and at the same time end their decade-and-a-half of woes against the Mountaineers. If Rutgers pulls off a surprise season, WVU would represent one final hurdle that has proven insurmountable for the past 15 seasons. At this point, the matchup could decide who finishes third and fourth with Pitt and Cincy expected to battle for the Big East crown.

The offensive line must protect Savage if the Scarlet Knights are to succeed on offense. Letting up an average of three sacks a game is just not acceptable. The wide receivers must give Savage options beyond Sanu and a spark in the backfield would be a nice help. On the defensive side of things, the loss of several key players poses some challenges, but at the same time creates opportunity for some very talented players to shine. The strength of the unit is the defensive line with position battles in the secondary still shaking out in the summer and fall. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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