Rutgers Hosts Howard in Home Opener; Looking to Start Season 2-0.
Added by Gregg Snyder on September 7, 2012.
Photo Courtesy of ScarletKnights.com
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will play their first home game of the 2012 season Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium when they host the Howard Bison of the MEAC. In a game Rutgers should be able to win handily, they have to make sure they are focused and not looking ahead to next week’s Thursday night showdown with South Florida.
The first goal on Saturday will be to win the game, of course. But Rutgers will also hope to start quickly, take a big lead, and have the opportunity to remove most, if not all, of their starters from the game as they prepare for their Big East Conference opener next Thursday.
The two teams last met in 2009 at Rutgers Stadium with the Scarlet Knights cruising to a 45-7 victory.
Howard comes in off a come-from-behind, 30-29 victory over Morehouse. Rutgers also enters the game off a victory, 24-12 on the road against Tulane. Rutgers is 2-0 all-time against Howard and undefeated in eight games against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
There are some uncertainties entering this game. Howard has numerous suspended players; however, those names and length of suspensions have not been made public. Keith Pough is the top defender for the Bison. The linebacker is on the Butkus Award watch list and an NFL prospect. Pough, however, did not play in the teams opener, but is expected to make the trip to play this weekend. Last week, Morehouse totalled 472 yards of offense against Howard, so you can expect Rutgers offense to have a good day.
Howard’s quarterback position is a bit unsettled. Randy Liggins was the starter last week. He was eventually pulled and replaced by freshman Jamie Cunningham who led the Bison to the come-back win with .22 seconds remaining in the game. Greg McGhee had taken over the starting job from Liggins last season but he did not play in the opener and will not play once again on Saturday. It’s expected that Liggins will once again start the game for Howard, but Rutgers will likely see both quarterbacks.
Defensively, Rutgers will need to be prepared for many different looks. Howard typically uses a variety of formations and sets, ranging from pro-style to the spread. After holding Tulane down last week, as long as they stay within their area and take care of their responsibilities, Rutgers should be able to hold down the Bison offense.
When Rutgers has the ball, you can expect a lot from the running game. Jawan Jamison will look to build on his season opening performance. Rutgers may look to get Savon Huggins more involved as well so both backs are ready. Look for the passing game to take some shots downfield. It will be important for quarterback Gary Nova to get in a nice rhythm with his receivers after last weeks inconsistent performance.
There are some injury concerns for Rutgers. Mr. Everything, Jeremy Deering, will likely be sidelined with an ankle injury. Mason Robinson will be the primary kick returner in his absencse. Tight end, Paul Carrezola is still nursing an ankle injury and will likely be used in emergency roles only. I don’t expect too many players nursing injuries to see the field this week as the extra rest could help them be ready to go when Rutgers hits the road against South Florida.
The score won’t matter. What you want to see from Rutgers on Saturday is a well played, mistake free game. The Scarlet Knights need to come out focused and play a crisp game. Take care of business and come out of the game healthy.