By Patrick Combs @MaverickNYC1980
Rutgers began the 2013-2014 season heading into a hostile environment against Fresno State. Fresno State last season was one of the best college teams at home going 6-0. Rutgers who has a very inexperienced roster and missing their best player defensive player Jamil Merrell faced a Fresno State team looking to contend in the Mountain West Conference.
Once the scoreboard showed all zero’s,one of the most thrilling games of this
opening weekend had ended and the Scarlet Knights who kept showing heart and
mental toughness had lost. When the game started it seemed like the Knights
were in for a long evening. Fresno State caught Rutgers defense off guard by
running a fast paced offense. Fresno State marched right down field and scored
on their opening drive. What kept Rutgers in the game was the young talent that
showed no fear. On the ensuing kickoff freshman, Janarian Grant, used his
electric speed to tie the game up with a touchdown of his own. This gave the
Scarlet Knight defense the boost it needed to shut down Derek Carr for most of
the half, as Gary Nova and the Scarlet Knights offense scored 20 unanswered
points. But as the half was about to come to a close, Rutgers made two huge
mistakes that would change the outcome of the half. First Janarian Grant muffed
a punt that would allow Fresno State to get to the one. Rutgers defense stopped
Fresno, on three straight plays, but the second mistake was commited by Darius
Hamilton, who was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, allowing Fresno Sate to
score a touchdown. This changed the tide of the half as Rutgers went three and
out. Fresno State immediately marched down field and scored a touchdown to end
the half, which now caused Rutgers to be behind heading into the third quarter.
The second half was just like the first. It was a back and fourth battle which
had the emergence of running back Paul James. On Rutgers’ first drive of the
second half, Paul James took the ball and ran it 65 yards into Fresno State
territory. This allowed Rutgers to kick a long field goal and regain the lead.
But Rutgers defense had no answer for Derrick Carr and Isaiah Burse, as they
came right down and retook the lead for a touchdown. But the third quarter was
the Paul James show as he ripped off another long run to help Rutgers end the
3rd quarter with the lead.
As they entered the fourth quarter, Fresno State went back to what created havoc
for the Rutgers defense all game. They went back to the warped speed offense and
went back in for a touchdown. Rutgers and Fresno State would go back fourth
because of the great plays of Gary Nova, Brandon Coleman and Paul James. As the
fourth quarter was coming to the end it looked like both teams were going to
pull out an amazing victory, but the dramatic finish would take place in the
In overtime Fresno State came out quick with a score, but Rutgers and Gary Nova
responded with a touchdown. Coach Flood had enough and knew Fresno State’s high
speed offense was a mad matchup for the Scarlet Knights defense and decided to
go for the win with a two point conversion, but Nova’s pass fell incomplete.
It was a tough loss for Rutgers, but for a program that went into a hostile
environment with an inexperienced team there was a lot to like. One thing I
liked was the resilient character trait this team showed by consistently coming
back. That is a trade mark of a good team. Another thing was the emergence of
Paul James. He will be a force to reckon with and will start to get a lot
more carries as the season goes on. inally offensive coordinator Ron Prince
had Gary Nova and Rutgers’ offense being aggressive all game, if he keeps calling
plays like that, Rutgers will be a force and contend in the AAC. As the season
goes on the costly mistakes that cost this inexperienced team a win, won’t be
made again. I am sure Coach Flood will make sure of that.
Gary Nova Quarterback Rutgers
Gary impressed me all game. He has an NFL type arm. He is able to make all the
throws and was consistently hitting his receivers in stride so they could make
plays after the catch. I also like Nova’s ability to avoid pressure and extend
plays for positive yards. What I am concerned about is when he has pressure in
his face, he forces throws which leads to interceptions. Nova went 26-41 for 348
yards with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Overall a very good game for Gary
Brandon Coleman Wide Receiver Rutgers
Brandon really impressed me with his size and athletic ability. He runs precise
routes that allows him to get separation from the defender. You can tell Coleman
has really worked hard to catch the ball with his hands. Coleman had 10 catches for
105 yards and two touchdowns. He was giving Fresno State difficulties all night.
Paul James Running back Rutgers
Paul has the speed to break a run into the open filed and the vision to wait
for blocks to open up. The only question I am concerned about is does James have
the speed to take his long runs to the house. Paul finished with 22 carries for
Isaiah Burse Wide Receiver Fresno State
Isaiah has a little bit of Tavon Austin in him. Isaiah catches everything
thrown to him and has the ability to run and change direction on a dime.
Rutgers next week will have have their home opener against Norfolk State. In
order for them to get that first win, they need to stay aggressive on offense
and shore up the defense, which I am sure coach Flood will correct immediately.