2014 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Team Preview
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Head Coach: Kyle Flood
2013 record: 6-7 overall, 3-5 American Athletic
2013 Bowl result: Lost to Notre Dame 29-16 in the Pinstripe Bowl
2014 Returning Starters: 9 offense, 7 defense
Odds to Win 2015 College Football Championship Game: Field 30/1
Odds to Win 2014 Big Ten Championship Game: 200/1
Odds to Win 2014 Big Ten East Division: 100/1
Regular Season Wins: over 4 -125 / under 4 -105
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The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have gone to 8 bowl games since 2005, but that was in the Big East which changed into the American Athletic Conference last year. Now Rutgers moves to the much tougher Big Ten along with Maryland from the ACC in 2014.
After a season opening loss at Fresno State 52-51 in overtime, Rutgers would win 4 straight games including a home win over Arkansas. They would only win 2 more games against Temple and South Florida for the rest of the season. Still they squeezed into a bowl with a 6-6 record and lost to Notre Dame 29-16 in the Pinstripe Bowl in nearby Yankee Stadium.
Rutgers averaged 236 passing yards and 130 rushing yards. The Scarlet Knights scored 27 points a game. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood brought in former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen to be the new offensive coordinator.
Rutgers thought Minnesota transfer Philip Nelson would be the answer at quarterback. However, Nelson was kicked off the team after being arrested for felony assault in June. So now it looks like Rutgers will go back to last year’s starter Gary Nova who completed 54.5% for 2,159 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Chas Dodd took about a third of the snaps at quarterback last year but he has graduated. Redshirt freshman Chris Laviano could challenge the inconsistent Nova for the starting job in fall camp.
Running back Paul Burton returns after he had 156 carries for 881 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 107 yards. Justin Goodwin also returns and he had 111 carries for 521 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Savon Huggins is also back. He had 86 carries for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 66 yards. Fullback Michael Burton is more of a blocker, but he did have 19 catches for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Tight end Tyler Kroft has a chance to be All-Big Ten in his first year in the conference. He had 43 catches for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. The Scarlet Knights must replace leading receivers Brandon Coleman and Quron Pratt who are both with NFL teams now. The duo combined for 66 catches, 1,054 yards and 4 touchdowns. Leonte Carroo looks to be the go-to receiver after making 28 catches for 478 yards and 9 touchdowns before being sidelined with a leg injury last season. Ruhann Peele is also back and made 28 catches for 281 yards and a touchdown.
All five starters return on the offensive line led by left guard Kaleb Johnson who considered leaving early for the NFL.
Rutgers gave up 413 yards per game in 2013 and 30 points per game. The pass defense really struggled allowing 312 yards per game. Fllod brought in Joe Rossi as the new defensive coordinator.
Tackle Darius Hamilton and end Djwany Mera return as starters on the defensive line. Kenneth Kirksey and Sebastian Joseph will platoon as nose tackle. Julian Pinnix-Odrick will also see time at end.
Linebackers Steve Longa and Kevin Snyder will switch positions with Longa moving to the weak side and Snyder moving to the middle. Longa was a freshman All-American last season.
The secondary was torched last year on numerous occasions. Injuries created havoc with seven different players at cornerback. Lorenzo Walters is a three year starter at safety but he is the only constant. Anthony Cloffi, Delon Stephenson and Nadir Barnwell all played corner as true freshmen last year, and will get a lot of playing time as sophomores.
Kicker Kyle Federico made 12 of 18 field goals last year and will handle the kicking duties again in 2014. Junior Joe Roth will be the punter but has never attempted a punt in a college game yet. Janarion Grant showed game breaking speed as a freshman in 2013 on kick and punt returns.
For the second straight year, Rutgers travels to the west coast for their season opener as they play Washington State in Seattle. They get home games against Howard and Tulane, and travel to Navy. In Big Ten play, Rutgers gets Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana at home. The Scarlet Knights travel to Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State and Maryland. It will be tough to win more than 5 games with such a difficult schedule.
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