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September 5, 2013For any college football team, 51 points would be a monumental number scored against a team just on the cusp of being ranked in the top 25. That is exactly how many points Rutgers produced against Fresno State in the season opener, but its offensive players are looking for more.
"I think we could have been better. We scored 51 points but there were a lot of things we didn't do too well that we need to do better," said starting quarterback Gary Nova. "I think we need to execute a lot better in certain situations. On 3rd down, I think we were 3 for 14 or something like that. That is not good enough. Once we get more into the season, we can't keep putting our defense out there on three and outs."
Nova threw for 348 yards and the team produced a 100-yard receiver in sophomore Leonte Carroo, who finished with 135 yards on five catches. Looking ahead, Carroo sees big things in store for this RU offense.
"I am very excited about this offense. This an NFL offense," Carroo said. "I feel like we could have had a lot more points than 51. Watching film, we made a lot of mental errors that we are going to correct. Our coach always talks about the fundamentals. We will get back to the fundamentals and we'll be fine."
Nova used a wealth of other receivers in the season opener, completing passes to eight different players.
"I think coach Prince does a good job of spreading the ball out. We have enough guys that can move to different positions like Leonte and Quron [Pratt]," Nova said. "I think we spread it out around pretty evenly."
The statistical flurry did not stop with the passing game. Sophomore running back Paul James became the first Scarlet Knight to go over 100 yards rushing since Savon Huggins accomplished that feat in game No.9 last year against Cincinnati.
James gained 182 yards on 22 carries, but isn't resting on the laurels of those numbers.
"I feel like as a whole unit, we just have to eliminate mental mistakes," James said. "A lot of times on plays on loss of yards or tackles behind the line of scrimmage, it is a mental mistake where somebody might not block the right person and things like that. I feel like if we can eliminate the mental mistakes we can be very consistent."
The offensive line kept pressure off Nova, not allowing a single sack. That unit debuted three starters at new positions and will introduce another when redshirt freshman Chris Muller starts in place of Andre Civil this Saturday against Norfolk State.
Muller took over at right guard in the second quarter against Fresno State after senior starter Andre Civil left with an ankle injury.
"We were a little off balance at first, but as the game kept going the line started to bond together and click together," Muller said. "We started to trust each other and do a lot better."
Rutgers is likely to post a lot of points this weekend against FCS opponent Norfolk State, although the team is looking to continue this new trend as the season moves on.
"We want big plays, and when you are fortunate to make---I think we made eight plus 20-yard plays in the game---and that's a significant amount. Our goal was six," said head coach Kyle Flood. "...I think the No.1 job of the offense is to score points."