Game Day: Rutgers at South Florida Preview
Added by Gregg Snyder on September 13, 2012.
Photo by: Anthony Bianciella
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights open their Big East slate tonight at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida against the South Florida Bulls. Both team enter the game at 2-0. Rutgers is coming off an uninspiring win over Howard while South Florida came away with a dramatic last minute win over a respected Nevada team. Despite being early in the season, this game will give the winner an early edge in the conference title chase.
The game which kicksoff at 7:30pm will be televised nationally by ESPN. Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack will call the game. Davis, the play-by-play guy, called this matchup a “measuring stick” for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights lead the all-time series with South Florida 5-2. Last season, Rutgers defeated the Bulls 20-17 in overtime.
When Rutgers Has The Ball
The Scarlet Knights offense has had its up and downs through two games this season. The running game has looked good with Jawan Jamison recording 100+ yards in both games. The passing game on the other hand, has left a lot to be desired. Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova has played ok, but ok will not be good enough against better talent. Rutgers will likely try to lean on the run game and attach South Florida’s defense which has struggled against the ground attack this season. South Florida has given up 163.5 rushing yards per game this season. However, the Scarlet Knights will need to find some what of a balance if they are going to have a chance.
South Florida’s defense is led by it’s talented front seven, particularly the linebackers. Dede Lattimore and Sam Barrington have been particularly productive this season. Lattimore has 3.5 tackles for loss. In last weeks’ win, Barrington recorded eight tackles, a pass deflection, and forced two fumbles. Rutgers offensive line has played well so far this season but it’s likely they will be without starting guard Andre Civil tonight. They will need to keep the momentum going against a tough South Florida front that is averaging four sacks per game. If Rutgers can not find a passing game, the Bulls will likely set their linebackers free, which could cause problems for the Scarlet Knights.
When South Florida Has The Ball
South Florida comes into the game averaging 33 points and 450.50 yards per game. Quarterback B.J. Daniels is a dual threat, but he has done most of his work in the air this season. The Bulls have been a big play offense that can put up points in a hurry. In two games, Daniels has thrown for 588 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. Alone, Daniels is 16th in the nation in total offense with 644 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Andre Davis has become the big play threat. Davis is averaging 102 yards per game and has scored two touchdowns. Last week against Nevada, Davis set a school record with 12 catches for 191 yards. His touchdowns grabs were 51 and 56 yards. The South Florida rushing attack has been lacking. Running back Marcus Shaw had been out with an injury but it’s possible he could return tonight. He appears to be a game time decision.
On defense, Rutgers will look to it’s secondary to shut down the deep threat of South Florida. If they can, Rutgers will force South Florida to run the ball, something they don’t want to do. Going up against a mobile QB like Daniels brings an interesting challenge. Rutgers will need to bring quick pressure but also contain Daniels. Rutgers has done a good job against Daniels and South Florida in the past. The Scarlet Knights enter the game ranked 6th in the nation in overall defense, giving up just 205.50 yards per game. Look for Rutgers to try a variety of look on defense to try and confuse Daniels and frustrate him into making mistakes.
Right now, South Florida probably has the better special teams group. Return man Terrence Mitchell is dangerous is the coverage is not perfect. Mitchell is averaging 14 yards per punt return. Justin Doerner has been solid in the punting game for Rutgers and will hope to pin South Florida deep in their own zone when possible.
In 11 kickoffs for South Florida, 10 have gone for touchbacks. Jeremy Deering is expected to return for Rutgers tonight, giving them a return threat if the opportunity arises. Mason Robinson has been solid in handling punts for Rutgers. He has shown no fear in catching balls in traffic and trying to make a return. Can he break one open against South Florida?
USF’s kicker Maikon Bonani is the schools all-time leader in scoring. He is 3-of-4 on field goal attempts this season. Kyle Federico and the Rutgers field goal unit has had it’s struggles so far this season. Federico missed his first career kick in the opening game against Tulane while a bad snap ruined an extra point attempt. Rutgers also attempted a two-point conversion against Howard which frankly turned into a disaster.
More Game Tidbits:
- Along with Civil, sophomore backup running back Savon Huggins is unlikely to play.
- Four of the seven games between these schools have been decided by three points or less.
- Former head coach Greg Schiano (now the head coach of the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs), is planning to attend the game and hopes to celebrate a win for Rutgers.
“I’ve got to make sure that I get all of my responsibilities done, but hopefully I’ll be able to get there for part of the game and hopefully celebrate a victory with them.” said Schiano about attending the game.
- With a win, Rutgers would start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2007.