Rutgers Preview

It is Senior Day at the Orange Bowl as the Hurricane fans say goodbye to some very good football players who have had successful careers at Miami. Last week Miami defeated Syracuse 17-10 behind the leadership of backup quarterback Derrick Crudup. Crudup made his first career start after filling in for the struggling Brock Berlin. Tyrone Moss scored the game-winning touchdown with eight minutes remaining.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-6, 1-4) vs. #13 Miami Hurricanes (8-2, 4-1)
Orange Bowl – Miami, Florida
November 22 – 12:00 PM Eastern on ESPN Regional

Last year these two had an interesting battle. Rutgers surprisingly led the Hurricanes 17-14 going into the fourth quarter, but their upset wishes fell short as Miami scored the game's final 28 points en route to a 42-17 victory. Willis McGahee led Miami with 187 yards rushing. Miami out gained Rutgers 436-200 in total offense.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Notes and Quotes

Head coach Greg Schiano served as the Miami defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000 under former head coach Butch Davis. Schiano is looking forward to the challenge against the Hurricanes and is excited about the improved play from this year's Rutgers squad.

Rutgers has not beaten the Hurricanes in their school history and only once has the difference been within 20 points. In the first meeting between the two schools Miami defeated Rutgers 31-17 in 1993.

"We are faced with a tremendous challenge going down to Miami to face the University of Miami," Schiano said. "They are certainly a great football team. We are going to work very hard to get ready for it and see what we can do."

The Rutgers program has not had a winning season since 1994 when they finished 5-5-1. In Greg Schiano's first two seasons at Rutgers, they only won three games. He has already passed that total this season with four wins as they continue to build a solid football program.

"The biggest challenge in rebuilding the Rutgers program has been an all-encompassing thing," Schiano said. "We had to do all of the things that are normally done in rebuilding a program. The biggest thing has been to change the attitude and the culture. Its definitely going in the right direction, but it is a step-by-step progress. It is a matter of building with a vision and then having things happen towards that vision. We have had some success, not enough, but some. We are on-course, we just have to keep pecking away."

Schiano enjoys playing against former players and former coaches.

"I don't think it is difficult," Schiano said. "I think it is fun. I respect Larry and all of the things he has done. I also respect their coaching staff at Miami. The first couple of years, I really knew a lot of the kids. I recruited them and that makes it a little bit more difficult. This is my third year here so I don't know as many of the kids, but it is still fun."

The Miami defense is ranked third in the country in total yards allowed per game. Their passing defense has allowed an average of 58 yards per game over the last four games.

"Its tremendous a challenge going up against their defense," Schiano said. "I thought when I was there that we could really run defensively, but they have taken it to a whole new level. The team speed on defense is incredible. You see things on video and think ‘oh that is a nice play.' But when you see things unfold, there is a Miami player that just sucks them out of nowhere. They are just so athletic and run so well."

On offense, Miami has struggled at times this year. The Hurricanes are averaging just 10 points per game over the last three games with only three touchdowns.

"I still see great athletes on the offensive side of the ball," Schiano said. "They are still very dangerous. It is just a matter of time before they start clicking again. The young back (Tyrone Moss) showed why he was so heavily recruited out of high school. I have a history with (Jarrett) Payton and I know how good he is. He is a very tough runner. With the quarterback situation, it is tough for them. But I see a very athletic offense and we better be ready to play."

There will be a little bit of a homecoming for 24 players who grew up in South Florida. Many of them will have friends and family members rooting them on in the Orange Bowl.

"There are different distractions that go along with going home," Schiano said. "They'll have a lot of family there and at the hotel. There will be a lot of things I'll do from an administrative side to prepare. But we have to remember that this is a business trip for us. We're going down there to win a football game."

Rutgers has a few key injuries to watch for during the game. Quarterback Ryan Hart has been bothered by a knee injury, but he should be able to play. Hart's backup is senior Ted Trump. Trump led the Scarlet Knights in passing last year, but has recorded only 18 passing yards this season. Also injured is freshman running back Justice Hairston who has missed the last three games with a knee injury. Hairston averaged over 100 yards per game in the four games before missing the Temple game. If he is unable to play, Brian Leonard will be the feature back.

Miami Hurricanes - Notes and Quotes

Miami will be ready to play Rutgers this weekend, as they cannot afford to take a week off. The Hurricanes need to win the rest of their games to win the Big East and end up with a BCS bowl game.

"We have a tremendous challenge this weekend," head coach Larry Coker said. "Greg and his staff have done a tremendous job with their program at Rutgers. They have really improved their talent level. Their skill players and returners are as good as anyone in the league. We are expecting a tremendous battle. A lot of Florida players play for Rutgers so it will be a homecoming for a lot of their players. It will be an important game for us on Saturday."

Coker has a different approach than Schiano in going up against coaches that he is close with.

"I would almost rather not play against people that you know," Coker said. "We coached together here at Miami and he has done a great job at Rutgers. I honestly would rather not play against people like that. I think about Bobby Bowden coaching against his son, that is even another level higher. Those aren't your most enjoyable games. Obviously we are going to prepare and try to win the game. It wont have any bearing on the outcome of the football game just because we are friends."

Rutgers is having a solid season, but with two tough losses in a row, they do not appear to be headed for a bowl game. However, they are not that far away.

"I think they are very close to being a bowl team," Coker said. "There are a couple games this year that they very easily could have won. I think they are right on the verge of being a bowl team. They are playing very well, they are playing hard and with a lot of confidence. Obviously there level of skill athletes has really stepped up. Talent-wise they are really doing a good job. They are doing a good job of recruiting, they are coaching well and they are playing well."

"They are a good team," offensive lineman Vernon Carey said. "They have a good defense up front and they will give us a lot of different looks up front."

The Hurricanes have gone back to their starting quarterback after giving backup Derrick Crudup a chance. Crudup guided the Hurricanes to a 17-10 victory last week to stop a two-game skid, but only completed five passes in the game.

"Brock Berlin will be our starting quarterback for this Saturday's game," Coker said. "However, we do plan for both Brock and Derrick Crudup to see playing time over the course of Saturday's game."

"I have been involved with a lot of quarterback situations," Coker said. "We played two at Ohio State and two at Oklahoma State. At times we played two at the University of Tulsa. I have been involved with that type of situation. The last time I have been around that was when I was at Ohio State, although I was coaching defense at the time."

"It doesn't matter who is at quarterback," Carey said. "We just need a win. Whoever helps us win a game the coaches will put that person in."

If there is one thing to point to as the leading problem for the Hurricanes offense, it is turnovers.

"Turnovers have been the most pressing problem for us," Coker said. "Traditionally we have always won the turnover battle around here. We have not done that this year during key situations. That without question is our most pressing problem."

Miami Hurricanes – Projected Starters

QB Brock Berlin Junior
TB Jarrett Payton Senior
FB Kyle Cobia Junior
TE Kellen Winslow Junior
WR Kevin Beard Senior
WR Ryan Moore Freshman
LT Eric Winston Sophomore
LG Vernon Carey Senior
C Joel Rodriguez Junior
RG Chris Myers Junior
RT Carlos Joseph Senior

LE Bryan Pata Freshman
LT Baraka Atkins Freshman
RT Vince Wilfork Junior
RE Thomas Carroll Sophomore
WLB D.J. Williams Senior
MLB Jonathan Vilma Senior
SLB Darrell McClover Senior
CB Antrel Rolle Junior
CB Alfonso Marshall Senior
FS Sean Taylor Junior
SS Maurice Sikes Senior

Hurricane Injury Status

DT Orien Harris (Knee) Probable
WR Roscoe Parrish (Knee) Probable
OL Vernon Carey (Ankle) Probable
FS Sean Taylor (Shoulder) Probable
OL Alex Pou (Ankle) Out
CB Travarous Bain (Shoulder) Out
CB Glenn Sharpe (Knee) Out
DT Santonio Thomas (Knee) Out
FB Talib Humphrey (Achilles) Out
TB Frank Gore (Knee) Out

Team Leaders


Passing – Brock Berlin (1981 yards 61% 9 TD 14 Int)
Rushing – Jarrett Payton (641 yards 4.9 avg 5 TD)
Receiving – Kellen Winslow (52 rec 533 yards 1 TD) Ryan Moore (38 rec 528 yards 3 TD)
Defense – Sean Taylor (64 tackles 6 Int) Jonathan Vilma (92 tackles) Vince Wilfork (5 sacks)
Kicking – Jon Peattie (17-21 FG 28-28 XP)


Passing – Ryan Hart (2396 yards 60% 13 TD 15 Int)
Rushing – Brian Leonard (690 yards 4.3 avg 8 TD)
Receiving – Shawn Tucker (42 rec 645 yards 2 TD) Tres Moses (42 rec 475 yards 4 TD)
Defense – Jarvis Johnson (88 tackles, 2 Int) Raheem Orr (71 tackles, 7.5 sacks)
Kicking – Ryan Sands (10-16 FG 20-21 XP)

Notable Team Statistics

Rutgers – 7th in Big East Total Defense (404.30)
Miami – 3rd in Big East Total Offense (397.10)

Rutgers – 3rd in Big East Net Punting (36.06)
Miami – 2nd in Big East Punt Returns (13.76)

Two Key Match-ups To Watch

When Rutgers has the ball…
WR Shawn Tucker vs. SS Maurice Sikes

Tucker has shown to be the Knights biggest offensive threat and will likely finish in the top ten in receiving yards in a season for the Knights. Tucker is averaging over 15 yards a catch and is fourth in the Big East in receiving yards per game. Tucker has good size at 6-2 180, and has shown good speed throughout the year. Sikes is coming off arguably his best game of the year last week against Syracuse. He was constantly around the ball and made his first interception of the season. Sikes also broke up the final offensive play for Syracuse in the endzone to preserve a Hurricane victory.

When Miami has the ball…
OT Carlos Joseph and OT Eric Winston vs. DE Raheem Orr

Offensives tackles Joseph and Winston need to be able to contain Orr. Winston moves back to left tackle after starting at left guard last game. Winston's abilities are better suited at the tackle position and he will need to have a strong game to help the Hurricane offense move the ball. Joseph also needs to have a solid day on Senior Day. Orr is arguably the best pass rushing lineman in the Big East. He leads the Big East in tackles for loss with 18.0 and is second in sacks with 7.5. Orr will likely shift from left end to right end throughout the game based on formations and success of getting behind the line of scrimmage.

Keep Your Eye On

Rutgers LB Devraun Thompson – Thompson is just a true freshman but started at MLB for the Connecticut game because of injuries at the linebacker position. The Scarlet Knights lost another linebacker, Brian Bender, to injury. Thompson's role is even bigger now. He has 35 tackles over the last five games.

Miami TB Tyrone Moss – Moss had a huge second half last week against Syracuse and finished the game with 91 yards rushing. The freshman tailback has been getting more carries throughout the season and he could get carries early on in the game if starting tailback Jarrett Payton struggles.

Coach Larry Coker's Final Word

"I feel good about where we are. We got some things that we need to get better at, but if we do that, I think we will be ready for Saturday."

Player Quote of the Week

Offensive lineman Vernon Carey,

"Any given Saturday you can get beat."

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at

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