Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football 2012: South Florida Bulls Pose First Challenge
The South Florida Bulls, after escaping with a one-point victory over Nevada, return home to Raymond James Stadium to host a Rutgers team still trying to solve its problems on offense.
Both teams are undefeated and must gear up during a short work week for a Big East showdown on national television this Thursday night.
"I don't know what we'll have to do to win the football game," admitted Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood during his Monday press conference. "I know we'll have to be better than last week." (via Rodger Sherman's article @ SBNation.com)
Rutgers starter Gary Nova (QB rating 119.3) has but three TDs and 288 yards passing this season as compared with Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels (QB rating 160.9), who has already thrown for six touchdowns and 588 yards in two games.
"They're an excellent football team," added coach Flood about USF at his press conference. "They've got probably one of the best playmakers in our conference on offense playing quarterback for them, a guy who's very difficult to contain."
Due to the sputtering Rutgers passing attack, the load for the Scarlet Knights has thus far this season been carried by Jawan Jamison on offense, who has gained 222 yards this season on a whopping 7.9 yards per carry.
But the real story behind Rutgers' 2-0 start has been the special teams and defensive units which have made game-changing plays both of the Knights to two victories.
"They've got a very good defensive football team," remarked USF head coach Skip Holtz about the nation's No. 4-ranked (points against) unit..."It's scheme, it's talent, it's the way that they run and they're very physical." (via Keith Sargeant's article on MyCentralJersey.com).
As evidence of how important Rutgers' special teams have been, senior defensive back Brandon Jones was named Big East Special Teams Player of the Week for his runback of a blocked punt in the victory over Howard. In Week 1 against Tulane, Jones had an interception return for a touchdown.
The Bulls defense will likely key on junior receiver Brandon Coleman, who is the only Rutgers receiver to catch a touchdown pass this year. In fact, of Coleman's four receptions this season, three have been for touchdowns.
By contrast, no fewer than five different receivers have found the end zone this season for South Florida, led by B.J. Daniels' favorite target, receiver Andre Davis (13 catches, 204 yards and two touchdowns).
Betim Bujari, Andre Civil, Savon Huggins and Marcus Thompson, all injured in the win over Howard, are questionable for the game against USF. In addition, Marvin Booker is still nursing a leg injury and will not play.
Defensive lineman Michael Larrow is still serving his four-game suspension and will miss the contest.
The game is critical for both teams, as Rutgers will next have to tangle with the Arkansas Razorbacks and, then, Big East rival Connecticut; USF will next face Ball State before returning home to battle Florida State.
Game Time: 7:30pm (EDT), Thursday, September 13; television broadcast on ESPN.
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