Bobby Deren and Ryan Abraham
The 2013 season will kick off this evening as Rutgers travels out
west to take on nationally ranked Fresno State. Which team has the
edge? We asked our resident experts!
will look to replace its first 1,000-yard rusher since Ray
Rice, and there are plenty of question marks surrounding
the run game. The offensive line also has a few
uncertainties, although RU's passing game looks like it
could be in for a big year in 2013. The difference in this
one is that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has
already proven that he can back up his potential with
production. Carr and company have more proven firepower
and the edge here goes to Fresno.
Which team has the
more potent offense?
offenses lost their 1,000-yard rusher from 2012. Both
offenses return their quarterback and potential superstar
wide receiver.. Having said all of that, I am going to
give the edge to Fresno State here. Derek Carr has the
potential to be a Heisman trophy candidate and will be in
the same offense from one year to the next for the first
time in his career. That could be the difference in this
Nova. With an inexperienced defense, a win for Rutgers
could hinge on the right arm of Nova. Following a dreadful
performance in last year's season finale, Nova has shown a
lot of maturation. However, when the lights come on and
the hitting begins, it will be interesting to see which
Nova shows up for Rutgers.
Who is the
Offensive 'X Factor,' and why?
Rutgers with the 6-foot-6 freak Brandon Coleman and new
offensive coordinator Ron Prince are the X-factors on
offense. The Fresno State defense isn't sure what to
expect from Prince, and Coleman is a guy that is nearly
impossible to match up with.
loses so many key players on defense, it is hard to give
them the edge here. The unit will debut three new starters
in the secondary and will feature two new starting
linebackers. Depth is also thin on the defensive side of
the football and the rotations on the defensive line will
be put to the test right away. With so many unproven
players now in the fold as well as a new defensive
coordinator, the Bulldog defense gets the slight nod.
Which team has the
Rutgers had a top-10 defense, but with so many guys moving
on to the NFL it will be difficult to match that in 2013.
By the end of the season I expect this Rutgers defense to
be playing at a very high level, but it would be hard to
expect them to come out in week one and play as well on
the road, so I am going to give the edge to Nick Toth's
Longa. Rutgers' new middle linebacker will make his first
ever college appearance tonight. The redshirt freshman is
still only 18 years of age but will have quite an onus
placed upon his young shoulders. Last year's starter at
the MIKE, Steve Beauharnais, made the Rutgers defense go.
How well Longa adjusts to all that comes with playing in
the middle could be key into how well the RU defense fares
Who is the
defensive 'X Factor,' and why?
State's JC transfer cornerback Curtis Riley was almost an
afterthought when he joined the Bulldogs this fall. He
quickly got the attention of the coaches and now finds
himself in a starting role opposite L.J. Jones, making him
an X-Factor for the Bulldogs on defense.
is notorious for its ability to block punts and also has a
weapon on kickoff returns in Jeremy Deering, who ranked
fourth in the nation two years ago with a 31.18 yard
average. Add in senior transfer Nick Marsh at punter and
Rutgers has another special teams weapon. The
place-kicking remains a bit unproven but Rutgers has
enough to get the edge in this one.
Who has the edge
on special teams?
coach Tim DeRuyter has had nothing but praise for his
freshman kicker Colin McGuire, a huge improvement over the
walk-on kicker the Bulldogs relied on last season. But
Rutgers has the edge in this one with their potential to
block kicks and turn the tide of the game.
This one may come
down to Carr vs. Nova and which one is better at running
the two-minute offense. Nova faltered in that aspect last
year against Louisville, costing Rutgers a trip to a BCS
Bowl. I will have to go with the guy who is a more proven
commodity at this point and that is Carr and Fresno State.
If the game comes down to a final
drive, which team drives the length of the field?
played well out of the gate last season but then struggled
as the season wore on. With a senior quarterback like
Derek Carr leading the way and so many weapons to choose
from, Fresno State is quite capable of driving the length
of the field in crunch time.
Rutgers will no
longer be able to rely on its defense the way it did in
previous seasons and that reality will surface against
Carr and the Bulldogs. The RU defense will hang in for a
while but its inexperience will show up through four
quarters of football. The Rutgers offense will have some
shining moments but there are just too many question marks
to overcome this early in the season. Fresno State takes
Which team will win?
I think this one will
start out with both offenses struggling, more from self
inflicted wounds than stellar defensive play. But as the
game wears on I think the Bulldog defense will force a few
turnovers and the offense will get things going. I like
Fresno State to win this one 30-20.