Friday, October 26, 2007

Game Preview: Rutgers vs. West Virginia

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This week the #6 West Virginia Mountaineers travel to Rutgers Stadium for a much-anticipated showdown between two Big East rivals with B.C.S. Bowl implications in jeopardy for each team. The game will be covered on television on ABC with kickoff at 12:10 p.m. The game will be on radio stations WOR (AM-710), WCTC (AM-1450) and WENJ (AM-1450) and XM Radio channel 203. This game marks the first time in 138 years in Rutgers football history that the Scarlet Knights will face a team ranked in the top-10. Rutgers is coming off a thrilling victory over previously ranked #2 South Florida last Thursday at Rutgers Stadium. Since losing 2 heart-breaking games to Maryland and Cincinnati, the Scarlet Knights have bounced back with convincing victories at Syracuse and then versus the previously unbeaten Bulls. West Virginia is 6-1 this season, with their only loss coming against South Florida on September 28th. The Mountaineers are 1-1 in conference play, with their victory coming over Syracuse. Since the Greg Schiano era, Rutgers is 0-6 against the Mountaineers and has lost 12 straight games to West Virginia. Last year's game proved to be a thriller, as Rutgers dropped a 41-39 decision at West Virginia in Triple Overtime. This year's game brings similar implications, as Rutgers must win out their remaining schedule to have a chance to win their first ever Big East Conference championship and salvage the season. Greg Schiano reflects on his 0-6 record against the Mountaineers since he became the Scarlet Knights' head coach. "We haven't beaten them. That's just stating a fact. Last year I thought we played very well, we were just a couple plays short of winning. When you're playing at that level, it's a very fine line. I don't think we were playing with the same weapons in the early years. We have had opportunities to win later and we've found a way not to, so hopefully we can play our best and hopefully that will be good enough, but I don't know if it will."
Key Defensive Match-up: Rutgers defense vs. Pat White and Steve Slaton
Rutgers defense will be in a world of trouble come Saturday afternoon if they can't limit the dynamic QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton. Slaton and White, two Pre-season Heisman trophy candidates, excel in an option offense that creates headaches for defensive coordinators. Last year, Rutgers did not play against White, who was nursing an injury during the Mountaineer's win. Slaton is second all-time in Big East history with 41 touchdowns and leads all active rushers. He is currently the second leading receiver on his team with 215 yards, however he is 300 yards shy of the mark of rushing yards he had accumulated at this point last season. Last year vs. Rutgers, Slaton ran for 112 yards, including a pair of 1-yard TD runs, and had three catches for 37 yards. Rutgers linebackers will have to play their A-Games to limit Pat White's scrambling ability and keeping Slaton from busting big runs into the Rutgers secondary. Rutgers must get into the backfield and create pressure for White and Slaton, as they did against South Florida last week sacking USF's quick Quarterback Matt Grothe seven times.
Key Offensive Match-up: Rutgers QB Mike Teel vs. his bruised hand
Ray Rice can bull into the opposing defense as hard as he can, but if Rutgers does not create balance on offense, they will not move the ball against a talented West Virginia defense. Mike Teel has been battling a deeply bruised throwing hand since the loss to Cincinnati and this will prove to be a deciding factor in Rutgers passing game. If Teel is unable to play, back-up QB Jabu Lovelace is ready, but he has only been used as a running QB this season. Teel is determined to play, but if he is not effective, look for Lovelace to come to the rescue. Teel needs to return to his past success that he enjoyed early this season if Rutgers wants to have a chance in this football game. Coach Schiano has been vague on Teel's condition as of Thursday, so we will see game time how he turns out.
Rutgers wins a thrilling game on the banks. Rutgers is able to limit Pat White and Steve Slaton to a degree and Ray Rice carries the offense with a mixture of Mike Teel and Jabu Lovelace at Quarterback.
Rutgers 28 West Virginia 27

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Big Three

The Big Three: Underwood, Britt and Brown create havoc for opposing defenses
Rutgers sophomore and junior wide receivers Kenny Britt, Tim Brown and Tiquan Underwood certainly took advantage of the late season opportunities they were given during Rutgers 2006 season. Each receiver played a crucial part in the team's success later in the season and has been able to use that experience from the start of the Scarlet Knights recent quest for a B.C.S. Bowl Bid and the first Big East Conference championship in Rutgers school history. Each receiver brings a different game to the table, yet the most impressive attribute each has are their unselfishness on the football field. You will never see these three talent young receivers complaining to Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel over the number of passes they get each game, yet they work together to create a triple threat that is almost impossible for opposing defenses to stop. Underwood, Britt and Brown have all had their share of recent success and punish defenses when they center in on one or the other. Underwood emerged as a threat last season after the injury to top receiver Shawn Tucker during Rutgers game against Howard with impressive performances against Pittsburgh and other teams until an in jury forced him to miss the West Virginia and Kansas State games. Underwood continued where he left off when he exploded in the season and home opener against Buffalo tallying over 200 receiving yards and breaking the school's single-game record for receiving yards in a game. Britt also enjoyed success late last season as a true freshman during the Scarlet Knight's thrilling victory against Louisville and through the rest of the 2006 season. Kenny also showed great strength and speed with his 176 receiving yards at the first half. Brown played a crucial role in the Knights first ever bowl victory over Kansas State with two touchdowns. The uniqueness that each of these receivers’ exhibits on the field has paid its dividends for all three and has given headaches to opposing defensive coordinators. Underwood became the first Rutgers receiver to have a string of 4 games in which he had 100 yards receiving or more. He and Britt are on pace to accumulate 1,000 receiving yards each. In Rutgers 138 seasons of college football, the Scarlet Knights have only had one 1,000-yard receiver (Tres Moses in 2003). The three are a close unit who can usually be seen arm-locked when running out for pre-game and half time warm ups. The future certainly looks bright for Rutgers behind these three young stars, and especially dim for their Big East challengers.
-Mike Briggs
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First Post

First Post: Mike Teel update and recruiting update
Hey and welcome to my blog: Scarlet Fever: The Rutgers Football Blog. First off, I'd like to get to some recent recruiting news. Former Rutgers commit D.C. Jefferson of Winter Haven Senior HS in Winter Haven, Florida has changed uniforms after a recent visit to Louisiana State University. Jefferson, who stands at 6-6.5 feet and 241 lbs., verbally committed to Rutgers over the summer, changed his mind after a visit to the Bayou. Jefferson is regarded as one of the nation's top quarterback recruits and has been compared to former LSU Tiger and Oakland Raider QB JaMarcus Russell. Ouch, that hurts. In other quarterback news, Mike Teel has been limited in practice this week due to the bruised thumb he has yet to heel from the Cincinnati game. Teel, who injured the thumb after hitting a players' helmet, only completed 11 of his 29 pass attempts in Rutgers win over South Florida last Thursday. Coach Schiano commented on Teel's update at this week's press conference. "Mike Teel's hand is sore. Three days rest I think helped all our guys, especially Mike. I think he'll practice, but he'll be limited in what he can do, and we'll see what his effectiveness is." Teel is expected to play, however Jabu Lovelace is ready in case Teel is incapable of playing. As much as many Rutgers fans have ridiculed Mike Teel, he is having a good season. Despite only completing 11 passes against South Florida, Teel passed for 2 touchdowns to Junior Wide Receiver Tiquan Underwood. Teel has been playing with the injured thumb since the home loss to the Bearcats, yet has stayed in the lineup and provided a steady passing game to compliment the determined running game of Ray Rice. That's all for today.
Keep Choppin'
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