Scarlet Knight Nation Fall Preview

By Patrick Combs @MaverickNYC1980

Joe Camporeale/US Presswire

In its only year in the AAC before heading off to the Big 10, Rutgers will try
to get the taste of how last season ended out of their mouth.  Returning head
coach Kyle Flood faces a tough task ahead in order to get Rutgers back into BCS
bowl contention.  Rutgers started the season strong by going 7-0,  before
finishing 2-4 and ending the season with three straight losses which included
their bowl loss to Virginia Tech.

Coaching Staff
Kyle Flood, who took over for Greg Schiano and won the 2012 Big East Coach of the
Year Award, is entering his second season with a new coach on offense and
defense. Rutgers new offensive coordinator is former Kansas State coach and
Virginia offensive coodinator Ron Prince. Prince was a solid hire who will make
Rutgers offense more balanced and lethal.  Prince has a solid background
working and developing offensive players. At the University of Virginia, he
worked with and developed players such as Matt Schaub, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and
Heath Miller. At Kansas State, Prince worked with quarterback Josh Freeman and
wide receiver Jordy Nelson. On the defensive side of the ball, Dave Cohen was
promoted to defensive coordinator after doing an amazing job with the
linebackers. The line-backing unit was the strongest group on the team.  Cohen
was able to help Khaseem Greene reach his potential that helped him win the Big
East Defensive Player of the Year award. According to, while at
Western Michigan, Dave Cohen led a defensive unit that was ranked 10th in the
nation in turnovers and 6th in red zone defense.

Last year’s offense is what caused the team to finish the year so poorly.
The offense’s struggles the last four games were directly connected to
quarterback Gary Nova. Nova who was having a really strong first fall of the
season, crashed and burned in his last three games. In those three games he
completed under 50 percent of his passes. If Nova plays like he did when they
started 7-0, they will be in good shape. This year will not be easy either with
inexperienced players at all the skilled positions, after leading rusher Jawan
Jamison and leading receiver Mark Harrison headed to the NFL. It’s time for
runningback Savon Huggins to live up to his high expectations and grab ahold of
the starting running back position. At wide receiver Brandon Coleman will
return for his senior season to help an inexperienced unit. Scouts will be keeping a
close eye on Coleman. He is tall, with great route running ability and
explosiveness. The one area were he needs to shore up on in his game is his focus.
Coleman drops the occasional pass, or sometimes uses his chest to catch the ball
instead of his hands. He could be the best offensive player to ever come out of
Rutgers. Players like Carlton Agudosi, Jeffrey Grignac, and Phil Lewis must
step up in order to match Mark Harrison’s production from last year. The
offensive line is the most talented unit on offense. Led by NFL draft prospects
Antwan Lowery and Kaleb Johnson, they will provide solid pass protection for Nova
and open holes for running back Savon Huggins.

Last year the defense was the Scarlet Knights bread and butter. This year the
unit needs to step up collectively if they want to contend in the AAC and over
come the loss of Big East Player of the Year Khaseem Greene. Defensive
linemen and NFL draft prospect, Jamil Merrell, will be the leader of this
inexperienced unit that features promising players like Sebastian Joseph, Darius
Hamilton and Nick Interncola. The linebacking unit will look to
youngsters L.J. Liston, Myles Nash and Kevin Snyder to develop and continue
their tradition of solid production from the linebacking unit. The defensive
backs are the team’s most talented and experinced unit. Led by Lorenzo
Waters, who according to, was named to the Preseason American Athletic
All Conference second team, and Preseason Fourth Team All
American Athletic Conference safety by Phil Steele. Waters and Jeremy Deering are
expected to create havoc on the AAC’s opposing wide receivers.

The ScarletKnights will face a daunting task of competing in the AAC while
developing their talented, yet inexperienced football team.  What Rutgers does
have is a coaching staff that is smart, organized, detailed, and they have akeen
ability to develop talent. With a number of NFL Draft prospects ready to take
it to the next level, this team could make some noise and finish on a high note
with a bowl bid and possibly a bowl victory.