It wasn't pretty, but head coach Kyle Flood was happy to get his first career win when his Scarlet Knights prevailed over Tulane in the season opener, 24-12.
The aerial attack looked tentative under sophomore quarterback Gary Nova, but determined running by Jawan Jamison (112 yards and a touchdown) and some timely receptions by Brandon Coleman (including a 43-yard touchdown pass) gave the Rutgers offense a boost.
“Gary is a young quarterback and I’m excited about a lot of the things he did,” said coach Flood [as reported by Keith Sargeant on APP.com]. "I’m excited to see how he can progress from week to week and learn from some of these mistakes.”
On the special teams front, freshman kicker Kyle Federico went 3-for-3 on extra points and hit a field goal during the game after missing his first collegiate attempt from a distance of 34 yards.
“I knew I was way too fast and it showed," admitted Federico of his in-game jitters [as reported by The Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson on NJ.com]. "My adrenaline got me and I just got too anxious."
But, two hallmarks of Rutgers teams—defense and special teams—showed up when they were needed most. The longest play for Tulane in the game was a 32-yard pass reception by Ryan Grant, and the Green Wave's lone touchdown did not come until under six minutes left to play. Special teams blocked an extra point and produced a long kickoff return that led to points just before halftime.
Now, holding their 1-0 record, Rutgers hosts the Howard Bison in Piscataway, NJ this weekend for the Scarlet Knights' home opener at High Point Solutions Stadium.
The Bison are coming off a come-from-behind win in the AT&T Nation's Football Classic in Week 1 when they defeated Morehouse College, 30-29.
"They do a lot of things on offense," said coach Flood [as reported by Laura Amato on NewYorkSBNation.com] during this week's press conference. "They're coming off a great win with a freshman quarterback."
Howard QB Jamie Cunningham went 10-for-11 in the game for 79 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Morehouse.
"Any time you get a big win like this, it feels really good," Howard head coach Gary Harrell said [as quoted in the game summary on the NationsFootballClassic.com website]. "This was a great Classic and continues to push along the rivalry."
Harrell is in his second year with the Bison, leading them to a 5-6 mark last season.
Tight end Paul Carrezola, nursing a high ankle sprain, may be available for Saturday's game against the Bison, while coach Flood revealed [as reported by The Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson on NJ.com] that during this week's practice kick returner Jeremy Deering "turned his ankle," but should play against Howard.
The Rutgers defense will likely be without the services of nose tackle Al Page and defensive end Marvin Booker, both of whom are dealing with leg injuries. The Bison's talented linebacker Keith Pough should be available for the game against the Knights.
Rutgers holds a 2-0 series advantage with Howard, and is 8-0 all-time against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Knights are 97-36-10 in home openers.
Game Time: 3:30 pm (EDT); television broadcast on the BIG EAST Network (SNY).