Rutgers (0-0) at Tulane (0-0)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 1st, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Louisiana Superdome (69,703) -- New Orleans, Louisiana.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Rutgers 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Away Record: Rutgers
0-0, Tulane 0-0. Neutral Record: Rutgers 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record:
Rutgers 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Series Record: Rutgers leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: With the threat of Hurricane Isaac hanging over it, the Tulane
Green Wave will welcome in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday night in
what is one of only two matchups that put two new head coaches against each
other this opening weekend.
Greg Schiano enjoyed a very strong career as the head coach at Rutgers. He
got the Scarlet Knights to six bowl games and into the national rankings
three times. Schiano is now the head man for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the
NFL. Taking over for him is former offensive line coach Kyle Flood. Flood
was part of the coaching staff that last year pushed the Scarlet Knights to
a 9-4 overall record, including a 27-13 win in the Pinstripe Bowl over Iowa
The Bob Toledo era came to an end last season for Tulane in a much less
successful manner. The former head coach went 15-40 in four plus seasons in
New Orleans, opening the door for Curtis Johnson. Last season the Green Wave
started out 2-5 under Toledo, leading to his departure. Interim head coach
Mark Hutson didn't turn things around, as the Green Wave ended the season with
six straight losses.
Although Rutgers holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, Tulane has won the
last two contests between the teams, both coming on the road. Tulane has
never beaten Rutgers at home.
One of the most important decisions Flood had to make after taking the head
coaching gig at Rutgers was who to start at quarterback. Flood finally made
that decision late in camp surprisingly taking sophomore Gary Nova over the
more seasoned Chas Dodd.
Nova just about mirrored Dodd's production last season, throwing for 1,553
yards, 10 scores and seven picks in three fewer starts last season. This
time around it will be Nova's chance to prove he deserves to the No. 1
option for new offensive coordinator Dave Brock, the third coordinator
in as many years.
The offensive line is retooling but with Flood leading the way, it should
be able to get up to speed quickly. Kaleb Johnson was a Freshman All-American
last season and will switch from right to left tackle, while guard David Osei
is the only other returning senior. Also improving things will be Maryland
transfer R.J. Dill.
At the skill positions Rutgers has solid, if not exciting, talent. Jawan
Jamison will return as the starter at running back after compiling 897 yards
and nine touchdowns a year ago. The receiving corps will really miss star
Mohamed Sanu, as Brandon Coleman (17 receptions, 552 yards) had the most
productive season amongst the returners.
Defense is an area where Rutgers has very little concern. The squad returns
seven starters from a unit that ranked 14th nationally (314.2 ypg) in total
Rutgers has a all-conference linebacker leading the charge in senior Khaseem
Greene, who was a force last season racking up 141 total tackles and 14.5
tackles for loss, both team highs. For his efforts, Greene was named 2011 Co-
Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Steve Beauharnais (77 total tackles,
5.0 sacks), Jamal Merrell (44 total tackles) and Kevin Snyder (40 total
tackles) make this unit one of the deepest around.
The secondary also has talent with the return of All-Big East cornerback Logan
Ryan and safety Duron Harmon. The defensive line was a weak point last year
struggling to get pressure on opposing teams. Michael Larrow and Scott Vallone
are the most experienced returners but combined for four sacks last season.
On offense Tulane is blessed with the return of two of its most valuable
weapons at running back and wide receiver. Orleans Darkwa is the team's
leading returning rusher for a team that averaged 126.3 yards per game
on the ground last season. Darkwa rushed for 924 yards and has a real nose for
the end zone, scoring 24 times in his first two seasons at Tulane.
Although his numbers were not stellar due to a hamstring injury, Tulane also
has talented receiver Ryan Grant back on the outside. Grant was on the 2011
Biletnikoff Award Watch List before injuries limited his time. Wilson Van
Hooser (36 receptions, 487 yards) is the teams leading returning pass-catcher.
Who Grant and Van Hooser will be catching balls from will also be the same, as
Ryan Griffin again steps in as starting quarterback. Griffin completed 55.6
percent of his passes for 2,502 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last
At 2-11, Tulane did not do very well in terms of limiting other teams in
scoring last season, ranking 115th nationally (37.5 ppg). From that unit only
five starters return. Jon Sumrall and Lionel Washington were brought in as
co-defensive coordinators to hopefully improve on that.
All-Conference USA First-Team linebacker Trent Mackey (145 tackles, 14
tackles for loss) will be the centerpiece around which Sumrall and Washington
build their defense. Mackey was selected as tce star quarterback Ryan
Lindley this season. Former Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz transferred in
January. Katz threw for 2,737 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his
career with Oregon State, with only one year as the full-time starter.
Not only did the offense lose its star quarterback but also its workhouse
running back. Set to fill the shoes left by Ronnie Hillman is sophomore Adam
Muema, who rushed for 253 yards and a 6.0 yards-per-carry average as a backup
Where the Aztecs do have consistency from last season is in the receiving
corps. Junior wideouts Colin Lockett (58 receptions, 970 yards, eight TDs) and
Dylan Denso (49 receptions, 634 yards) will each return, as will tight end
Gavin Escobar whoe offensive line has a pair of returning starters but there is
there including how well converted tight end Bryce Quigley will adjust at left
On defense the Aztecs will need to retool at a number of spots. Only three
starters return from last season's unit that ranked 68th nationally (391.2
ypg) in total defense.
The defensive line is an especially troubling area where there is no
returning starter and a pair of sophomores set to take on major starting
At linebacker, Jake Fely is the lone returning starter after a strong freshman
season when he recorded 58 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.
The secondary may be the most experienced unit but that's only because it has
two of the three returning starters. Safety Nate Berhe and cornerback Leon
McFadden are the holdovers. McFadden recorded 46 total tackles and nabbed a
pair of interceptions while Berhe was the better tackler (67).
The Huskies are a young team up and down the roster but with its youth,
Washington also has a great deal of talent. That begins with sophomore
quarterback Keith Price who played beyond his years last season as a freshmen.
Price completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns
and was one of the best quarterbacks in a conference that included Andrew Luck
and Matt Barkley.
Although star running back Chris Polk is gone, the skill positions have some
strong replacements. Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey are a nice tandem to
replace Polk. Kasen Williams and James Johnson are both big receivers that can
make plays down field. Williams caught 36 passes for 427 yards and six scores
The best returning starter other than Price is tight end Austin Seferian-
Jenkins who is a skilled receiver. The sophomore caught 40 passes for 544
yards and six touchdowns last season and will be one of Price's favorite
targets in 2012.
The offensive line has three returning starters led by senior center Drew
Schaefer. Whether or not sophomores Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva can fill in at
the tackle spots will go a long way in determining how well the offense does.
Washington will have a new defensive coordinator this season. Justin Wilcox
was hired from Tennessee and will be trying out a 3-4 system to slow the
prolific offenses of the Pac-12.
The secondary will be the strength led by senior cornerback Desmond Trufant
and junior strong safety Sean Parker. Trufant had 64 total tackles last season
and also nabbed two picks. Parker was even better with 91 tackles and four
interceptions. The Huskies also have high hopes for touted recruit Shaquille
At linebacker, John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono are the returning starters.
Up front the Huskies are less solid in terms of starting experience. Defensive
end Josh Shirley (12.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks) is an effective pass
rusher but will be flanked by others with less experience.
With talent up and down the roster, Washington is a dark horse in the Pac-12
and has its hopes set pretty high entering 2012. San Diego State will be the
first test for the Huskies who have to avoid looking beyond to a date with LSU
in week two. That shouldn't be too much of an issue for a Washington offense
that is led by a top-tier quarterback and a defense that has enough playmakers
to get a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 38, San Diego State 20
08/31 10:32:55 ET