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September 10, 2012

The Monday Morning Kickoff

It will be a short week before Rutgers retakes the field on Thursday night against South Florida in its Big East season opener. With the countdown to kickoff rapidly ticking down, The Monday Morning Kickoff speeds you up on all things Rutgers football.

Rutgers did not have long to bask in its 26-0 Saturday victory over Howard as a Thursday night contest with South Florida is right around the corner. Looking back on Saturday's win, the RU offense once again struggled to put points on the scoreboard. And for the second straight week, cornerback Brandon Jones provided the Scarlet Knights with a touchdown.

Jones scored when he recovered a second-quarter punt that was blocked by sophomore wide receiver Miles Shuler.

"I came out there, turned the corner and I saw there was an opportunity for me so I just took it," Shuler said of the blocked punt. "Speed is the name of the game basically. The coaches saw that I could get to the block point faster than most people. I just went out there and executed."

Saturday's game also introduced four redshirt freshmen to their first taste of playing time. Defensive tackle Marquise Wright, running back Ben Martin, offensive tackle Keith Lumpkin and defensive end Max Issaka all played for the first time in their college careers.

Issaka just returned from Ghana a week prior to the game and talked about how his teammates helped him prepare after missing all of training camp.

"I was being guided the whole way through practice. I had a hard practice--I really wasn't in football condition. I was in condition, but not football condition. Practice was a lot harder but they guided me the whole way through. It felt great. You can't ask for anything more."

Rutgers has now turned its attention to South Florida as each team will carry a 2-0 record into Thursday's game. However, USF is already a 9-point favorite.

"They are an excellent football team," head coach Kyle Flood said of USF following last night's practice. "This is a tremendous challenge, always to win Big East football games but even more so to win this one. To try to go down there and win on the road is going to be a real test for us."

Injuries are starting to mount for the Scarlet Knights as offensive linemen Betim Bujari and Andre Civil remain questionable for this week along with running back Savon Huggins and defensive end Marcus Thompson.

The game will be kind of a homecoming for those Scarlet Knights who hail from the state of Florida. Running back Jawan Jamison will play his first game in the sunshine state since the fall of 2009 when he starred at Bolles High in Jacksonville, Fla.

Jamison has a total of over 60 family members and friends coming to Thursday night's game.

"It's going to be awesome," Jamison said. "My mom and like 15 people are going to meet me down there the day we get there. It's going to be awesome just seeing everybody."

Rutgers will practice this morning at 10 a.m. and Flood will hold his weekly press conference later in the day at 2 p.m. Scarlet Nation will provide updates from practice as well as the press conference as Flood is expected to go into greater detail regarding the injury situation.

In what is usually a quiet time for recruiting, Rutgers received its 17th commitment to the class of 2012 on Friday when Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) linebacker Lester Liston pledged to spend his future in Piscataway.

"I'm all Rutgers right now," Liston said. "I don't care who contacts me. Alabama, USC, they could contact me tomorrow and I'll tell them 'hey I'm sorry, you guys missed the boat.' When everybody else threw in the towel on me and said there's no way I'd make it through the NCAA clearinghouse, Coach Cohen is the one that stuck with me. I owe it to him to come to Rutgers, and have him help me become a better player and a better man."

Look for more on the current RU commits and targets and how they fared this weekend later this morning in another of our original features entitled 'Recruit Scoop.'


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