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September 7, 2006
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SI.com has RU ranked 39th overall - not bad. I expect a steady rise over the next four weeks. RU also received 7 votes in the AP poll and 6 in the coaches poll. RU would love to break into the Top 25.
Lets hope Ray Rice uses his height (or lack thereof) to his advantage again this week and quietly pile up the yardage. All-Americans Harris and Leonard just want to win.
The offense looked good on Saturday and the defense came up big when it counted but still looked shaky. The season will probably hinge on their success.
Unfortunately it's looking like Jason McCourty will not be back this weekend. Porter, Collins, and Jackman have been rotating at the position in practice. No impact on this weekend but Anthony Miller has been given the opportunity to tryout for the team as a walk-on. Illinois' QB Tim Brasic has matured since last season and will certainly try to test the DBs.
One thing for sure, Schiano won't be turning to Dennis Campbell who has made the most of his return to WR.
The official Rutgers game preview reminds us that the Scarlet Knights own a 93-34-10 overall record in home openers and have won their last three. More good news - Illinois has not won on the road since Nov. 23, 2002.
Rivals.com breaks down Week 2 of the BIG EAST and calls the RU/Illinois game the best matchup. ESPN Insider has its own look at week 2 and plugs RU's potent offense.
Illinois would like to downplay the revenge angle but you have to believe that the players have it in their minds. Ito says he's unfazed by the kicks he missed in last year's matchup.
The Daily Illini is picking RU.
An interesting article on the cost of college football. It claims RU spent 10.7 million but broke even and upcoming opponent Illinois made $8 million profit.
The NFL season starts tonight and here's the latest on RU alums. Three guys you should already know: Gary Brackett is back to anchor the Colts D as a team captain. LJ Smith will be one of McNabb's top targets in Philly. And Shaun O'Hara is right here at home anchoring the Giants O-line. J'Vonne Parker has joined Nate Jones with the Dallas Cowboys. Ryan Neill was signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad.
Unfortunately...veteran Jay Bellamy was released by the Saints but don't be surprised to see him pop up somewhere. Mike Barr lost his latest bid (Steelers) to punt for an NFL team. Mike McMahon was released by the Vikings.
SCIL football gets underway this weekend and future Scarlet Knight Joe Martinek is looking for another stellar season. His Hopatcong squad should continue its remarkable turnaround but start off with a tough matchup against Pope John in one of this weekend's top high school games.
Get caught up on RU's running back recruiting beyond Martinek. Schiano & Co. would love to land this Florida WR.
It was nice to see David DeJesus continue his fine season by spoiling the gangly Randy Johnson's no-hit bid.
The ancient sports of Wrestling and Fencing have released their schedules.
The Men's Soccer team (1-2) opens the BIG EAST season on the road against UConn and Providence. The Women's team improved to 3-0 by beating Monmouth and will host Stanford on Friday.
RU Swimming hired two new assistants.
The "New Blue" were beat by the new and improved Scarlet Knights. Despite the outcome some still wonder if RU knows how to win. But this was an early statement win in one of RU's key swing games. ScarletNation.com's Lester Morgan believes this win set the bar for the rest of the season.
The game produced a lot of positives but also some negatives covered in the postgame notebook. And what did Rutgers recruits think of the game?
Before I forget - the new jerseys looked good on TV.
It makes no difference to the Scarlet Knights who grabs the headlines week to week. This week it was Ray Rice: Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Co-BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week, a "Stock Up" on ESPN.com (Insider), and a lot of media coverage.
Ray Rice needs your vote for two more honors - the USA Today Player of the week and the Cingular ESPN All-America Player of the Week. Vote here for USA Today and vote here for Cingular ESPN
The offensive line may not get the headlines but they came up big against a formidable defensive front.
Jersey's finest? UNC wide receiver Jesse Holley talked too much and caught too little.
Review of my questions to be answered:
1. Has Mike Teel matured enough to avoid costly turnovers and lead this offense?
Mike Teel earned Schiano's praise and certainly did what he needed to help this team win. He was efficient and didn't make any mistakes. He was even calling plays at the line of scrimmage. His fumble was questionable and more a result of the o-line breaking down. While I didn't like failing to convert that late 3rd down, I think you have to feel good about Mike Teel right now. He'll need to improve as the season progresses but he's starting well.
2. Can Willie Foster and others step up enough to make defensives give Shawn Tucker a little breathing room?
The run game was the story of this win but the passing game gave a glimpse of some weapons. We saw why Dennis Campbell was earning so much praise in preseason camp and Tucker looked his old self. Probably an incomplete here because the WRs and TEs weren't asked to do much.
3. Can Derrick Roberson and Jason McCourty avoid the terms "burnt", "toast", and "juked"?
UNC thankfully didn't attack the RU secondary early. The Tar Heels focused on their "downhill running" philosophy for most of the game but UNC moved the ball in the air with too much ease late in the game. Dailey was hitting any receiver not named Jesse Holley and picking apart the secondary. Manny Collins had two clutch interceptions and has made quite a comeback but I still have questions about the secondary. Hopefully Jason McCourty's injury is minor.
Rutgers is no longer a punchline and how's this for a sign of progress? "We're a program that was maybe where Rutgers was four or five years ago and obviously we want to get to the level where they're at," Illinois' Ron Zook said yesterday.
But Schiano and Co. still has to be sure to avoid repeating some unpleasant history and earn some revenge.
Scarlet Knights fans had a good turnout in Chapel Hill and the Scarlet really popped on the TV screen next to all that baby blue. Thanks to road tripper Mike Smith for his photos of the Rutgers faithful. You'll also find some great game photos on ScarletKnights.com. Got pics from your road trip or game party - contact me for where to send them.
Four RU Football games will be broadcast on XM Radio
BIG EAST: Louisville loses Bush but the league makes a strong statement.
Rutgers Women's Soccer opens at home against Monmouth.
Martina Navratilova spoke up for RU tennis - hopefully she'll put her money behind her mouth.
Field Hockey Goalie Rosalyn Wentko earned a spot on the BIG EAST Honor Roll