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Rutgers Football: Scarlet Knights Look To Get Momentum Going Against Army

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 21:  Greg Schiano the head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights watches  during the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 21, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Jayson LoveCorrespondent INovember 9, 2011

The theme of this week's game for Rutgers is opportunity.

It is an opportunity for a bunch of kids for both Army and Rutgers to play a college football game at Yankee Stadium.  It is an opportunity for Rutgers to play Army on a holiday weekend that means a lot to Army—Veterans Day weekend.   It is an opportunity for RU to get to win back-to-back wins, get to seven wins overall and get the momentum going for the last two all-important Big East games.

The Scarlet Knights face the Black Knights for the first time since Eric LeGrand was paralyzed after making a special teams tackle on the kickoff return.

Since then, Rutgers' head coach Greg Schiano has stated that Army's coach Rich Ellerson has been in constant contact with RU regarding LeGrand's condition.

"The class that Rich Ellerson and the Army football program showed towards Rutgers in this last year has been incredible.  When Eric got injured in that game, Rich Ellerson and his entire football team stayed in constant contact, whether it be through notes, the whole team wrote him notes at one point, gifts, Army memorabilia, things that were special to them that they gave, have in Eric's room, to even as late as this summer Coach Ellerson and members of his team coming down to our stadium club and having lunch with Eric," Greg Schiano said in his weekly press conference this week in his opening remarks about Army.

Army was a feel-good story last season.

Rich Ellerson, then in his second year, led the Black Knights to a bowl game victory in the Armed Forces bowl against SMU - its first bowl since the 1996 Independence Bowl.

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Ellerson of the Army Black Knights yells to his team against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This season, Army comes into the game with a 3-6 record although it is a bit misleading.

Army has a win over Northwestern this season, and pasted Tulane 45-6.  It battled Air Force to a 24-14 loss last weekend.

Army runs the triple option, and Rutgers will have to deal with what is the nation's leading rushing attack at 365.8 yards per game on the ground.

The Black Knights feature an attack led by its quarterback Trent Steelman, although he is listed as questionable for the game this weekend.

Steelman has rushed for almost 900 yards on the year, and averages over seven yards a touch.

Army's fullback, Jared Hassin, has 384 yards on the ground and has averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

When asked about defending the option attack in last year's game against Army, Schiano remarked, "I didn't think we did a great job.  We were able to win the game last year.  I didn't think we did a great job defensively last year—At no point did I feel like we really had a handle on it".

That game, among others, led to a slew of position changes to get more speed out there for RU.

One of those changes was moving Khaseem Greene from safety to linebacker. 

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Khaseem Greene #20 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights intercepts the ball in the endzone against the South Florida Bulls at Rutgers Stadium on November 12, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Greene has responded by delivering a career season thus far and was last week's Big East defensive player of the week, posting 17 tackles.

If RU defends the option well, it will have to be Greene playing a large role again attacking the line from his linebacker spot.

Against both WVU and USF, Rutgers showed a tendency to over-pursue and was hurt several times by misdirection plays—particularly by WVU and Tavon Austin.

Over-pursuit will hurt RU this weekend against Army.  The defense will need to stay poised to keep the option under control.

For Rutgers, the win against USF was sparked by a comeback led by Chas Dodd.

The quarterback now finds himself back at starter after being replaced by Gary Nova during the Syracuse game.

Dodd led a comeback of his own against the Black Knights last season—bringing the Knights from 10 down, and three points down in overtime.  Dodd will look for this game to springboard his season for a strong close against Cincy and Uconn.

Rutgers can sit back and watch the rest of the conference battle each other this weekend as it plays non-conference against Army.

If things break right, namely Cincy losing to WVU, Rutgers can find itself with an opportunity to get back into the hunt for the Big East crown with its home game against Cincy next weekend.

 

 

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