Behind Enemy Lines: Rutgers

In order to gain more insight into Maryland's Nov. 29 opponent, Rutgers, we spoke to publisher Sam Hellman.

In order to gain more insight into Maryland's Nov. 29 opponent, Rutgers, we spoke to publisher Sam Hellman. Here's our question-and-answer session with him:

Terrapin Times: I know Rutgers didn't have a great game at Michigan State, but considering this is the Scarlet Knights' first year in the Big Ten, and having six wins and being bowl eligible, are fans fairly satisfied with their showing? Are folks encouraged about the program moving forward?

Sam Hellman: I can't speak for the entire fan base but there are a lot of unhappy campers right now, which is normal after a 45-3 loss. If you would have told the fan base this summer that Rutgers is a 6-6 or 7-5 team with a few blowout losses and a home win over Michigan, the reaction would be overwhelmingly positive. But expectations change through the season, and Rutgers has not met them with four losses in its last five games.

TT:I know RU isn't making Ralph Friedgen available to the media this week, but has he said anything in the past about Maryland? Do you think there will be any extra "contention" or emotion heading into this game based on what Friedgen has said previously?

SH: Rutgers has an extremely strict policy with assistants, and only allows them to speak at media day in the summer (except for TV meetings). Attached is a link of Fridgen's only press availability since spring football. FRIEDGEN'S AVAILABILITY.

TT: How has Friedgen been received in Year One at Rutgers? Do fans and players seem to like him? Basically he was a pretty big "family" man at UMD, and his wife, Gloria, and daughter were pretty visible figures on game day and in the community. Has Friedgen and his family been pretty visible in Piscataway, or is he more of a background figure considering he's not the head coach?

SH: The players like him, and I'd say the fans do for the most part. There are complaints here and there, but when are fan bases ever 100 percent content? Friedgen is still settling in to his life in New Jersey, but Rutgers welcomed his family with open arms and Friedgen seems comfortable. On the field, Friedgen deserves credit for Gary Nova's senior year. Nova fell apart in the second half of the year as a sophomore and junior. That hasn't happened under Friedgen. The Rutgers offense has its highs and lows -- most recently lows with just three points against Michigan State.

TT:Sorry to ask another Friedgen question, but that does seem to be the major hook with this game. As far as the Rutgers offense is concerned, does Friedgen have much say in what is run and the scheme, or does he take a back seat to Kyle Flood? Has Friedgen helped Gary Nova's development?

SH: Friedgen is the 100 percent play-caller for Rutgers, Kyle Flood offers input, but gives Friedgen free reign with the plays. The only decisions Flood makes come in situations like fourth-down conversions or drives where time is a factor. The actual schematic and play-calling decisions belong to Friedgen in the coaches booth. Friedgen helped Gary Nova, but there has not been any major leap forward in his senior year at quarterback. What Friedgen did is limit Nova's lows. Nova melted down too often as an underclassman. He reverted to poor throwing mechanics, and made poor decisions in reading the defenses. Under Friedgen, Nova is more consistent. He remains a leader in the huddle.

TT:How is Rutgers recruiting looking now that it's in the Big Ten? Does Friedgen do any recruiting, and how's he been thus far out on the trail?

SH: There has not been a big change positive or negative in the last year. Rutgers searched heavily out of state in this class, with the majority of top-rated New Jersey prospects going elsewhere. Rutgers remains aggressive in Florida, and has a number of players from Pennsylvania including the recent addition of receiver Freddie Simmons. Where Rutgers makes it interesting is in non-traditional recruiting. Former four-star Kiy Hester is now on the roster after transferring three months into his Miami career. Former four-star Greg Webb is committed to Rutgers after leaving North Carolina for junior college. Flood is also an advocate of the graduate-transfer route, which began with former Terp R.J. Dill and includes names at Rutgers like Lew Toler, Nick Marsh and Andrew Turzilli.

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