Since their headline nabbing "Hello World" breakout campaign in 2006, the Rutgers Football program has entered each of the two successive autumns with greater and greater expectations.
Even with significant personnel losses after ‘06 (Devraun Thompson, Brian Leonard, and Darnell Stapleton to name a few) and ‘07 (Ray Rice, Eric Foster, Jeremy Zuttah), the fans and media alike have anxiously anticipated the possibility of Rutgers Football turning the next corner and winning the conference.
This autumn is no different.
The 2007 and 2008 seasons were hardly comparable in nature. The 2007 started strong (beginning 3-0) and then fizzled (finishing 5-5), while 2008 was quite the contrary (starting 1-5 and finishing 7-0).
To summarize the 2007 and 2008 seasons: There were highs and lows. Peaks and valleys. Laughter and tears. Confidence and fear. Hopelessness and optimism.
At times, the Scarlet Knights looked unbeatable and completely inept at other points. But the similarity between these past two teams is this: When they wanted it, they delivered.
Just watch the USF game from 2007, or the Pitt game from 2008.
If this team could have harnessed the focus and desire they had in those two game,s and played a full season with the same mindset, what could the ceiling have been?
Last year, it was three points at Cincinnati and seven points at West Virginia. One score could have been the difference between Birmingham and Miami.
Playing “one game seasons” became the mantra of the 2008 team, and it damn sure worked for the last 8 games...all Rutgers victories.
Only the seniors know this story best. Ryan D’Imperio, Ryan Blaszczyk, and George Johnson have experienced the highs and lows of Rutgers Football circa 2007 and 2008.
Do they know the task at hand in 2009? Does the rest of the Rutgers Football team know what it takes to play a “one game season?”
On September 7, we’ll find out.
The expectations are still there, but can the 2009 Scarlet Knights finally do what no Rutgers team has done before?