Strong Rutgers Secondary to Get Early Test Against Tulane?
Added by Gregg Snyder on August 30, 2012.
Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan is the best at his position in the Big East.
The secondary is one of the areas of the 2012 Rutgers football team that many believe is a strength, and rightfully so. Logan Ryan and company are a veteran group with tremendous ability. Ryan is thought to be the best cornerback in the Big East conference and the entire secondary has been ranked in the Top 10 at their position group in the country by some pre-season rankings.
In Saturday’s season opener at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, that secondary could face their first test. The Tulane Green Wave have a new coach this season, former New Orleans Saints wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson. The Saints have had one of the NFL most prolific offenses led by Drew Brees and his toolbox full of weapons. Johnson has some similar weapons that be can utilize.
Tulane has a returning quarterback in fifth-year red-shirt senior Ryan Griffin. He is the same guy that pulled off a big upset when Tulane beat Rutgers 17-14 at Rutgers Stadium back in 2010. Griffin averaged a touchdown pass a game last season while completing 55.6 percent of his passes and throwing for just over 2500 yards. He finished the year with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The trouble for Rutgers is that they will not be able to key in on one guy, similar to opponents of the Saints in the NFL. Drew Brees uses his entire offense, spreading the ball around to a handful of wide receivers as well as his tight ends and running backs. Griffin has done the same for Tulane. Ten Green Wave players caught at least 10 passes last season.
One break for the Scarlet Knights is that Tulane’s do-everything running back Orleans Darkwa is likely to miss the game with an ankle injury. Darkwa led the Green Wave in both rushing and receiving last season. Johnson even compared Darkwa to Saints running back Darren Sproles. Tulane does however have some talented backs that will fill in in Darwa’s absence.
Tulane returns three of their top four wide receivers from last season. Red-shirt senior Wilson Van Hooser led Green Wave wide outs with 36 catches for 487 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore Justyn Shackleford caught 31 passes for 404 yards as a freshman last season. Big play threat Xavier Rush, averaged 14.1 yards per catch as a freshman last year.
Rutgers secondary is ready, and looking forward to the challenge. Ryan, and fellow starting cornerback Brandon Jones have been around and have developed into the best tandem in the conference. Senior safety Duron Harmon will be there as well to provide help when needed. If Tulane does in fact try to go to the air often, Rutgers will use a lot of nickel and dime packages. Luckily the Scarlet Knights have the ability to reach fairly deep into their depth chart in the secondary and not lose production. Marcus Cooper and Wayne Warren are seniors that have plenty of experience and can step in at any moment, as well as sixth-year Mason Robinson.
Lorenzo Waters is just a sophomore, but could be a star in the making. The list goes on and on. This season, wide receiver Jeremy Deering is also expected to play significant minutes in the secondary at safety.
So, there is a plethora or talent in the Rutgers secondary. They may very well get an early season test on Saturday night, but make no mistake, this group will be ready and willing to accept the challenge. Air if you dare!