Opposition Danger Men: Rutgers

Now that spring practice is in the rearview mirror, and that summer is quickly appearing on the horizon, it is time to turn our eyes to the fall.

We will eventually get around to full previews of all the Mids opponents In 2014, but before that we are going to take a closer look at a couple of difference makers who Navy will come up against each week when the season gets started. These are the guys that the coaches must game plan for in the 2014 Navy football season is going to be a success.


Offense: TE – Tyler Kroft

Tyler Kroft is almost the default option here as the Rutgers offense just really isn't very good. The days of Ray Rice are long gone and this Scarlet Knight team has not beaten an opponent who finished the season with a winning record since November of 2012. Kroft, though, certainly has talent. The 6-6, 240 pounder led Rutgers in receiving with 43 catches and 573 yards from the tight end spot last fall. This was enough for Kroft to find himself named as a honorable mention All-America by Sports Illustrated, despite coming into 2013 with just three catches for 59 yards during his career.

Kroft will be in a new system this year as offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen has been brought into the program in an attempt to make Rutgers relevant again. Friedgen is known for being one of the great quarterback coaches out there and if he can get some consistency into the play of incumbent quarterback Gary Nova then there is reason to think that Kroft's numbers may look even better at the end of 2014. Kroft's size and power create an obvious mismatch and it will be interesting to see which of Navy's defenders are tasked with stopping him if he is a big part of the Scarlet Knight's game plan.

Defense: DE – Darius Hamilton

The Rutgers defense last fall was a story of two units. The secondary was, quite frankly, abysmal as they allowed 31 passing touchdowns which was the 117th most in the FBS. The run defense on the other hand was actually pretty good as the front seven held opponents to just 3.1 yards per carry. How much that stat was inflated because teams were content to just drop back and pass is up for debate, but Rutgers certainly has the potential to be solid again upfront in 2014.

The star of the unit is defensive end Darius Hamilton. Hamilton had 48 tackles (11.5 for a loss) last year and is getting close to reaching the expectations which were set for him when he stepped onto campus as a five star recruit. With the Scarlet Knights move to the Big Ten he is a rising star to watch and he figures to show very well, especially against teams who run more of a pro-style offense where he can be at his disruptive best. Hamilton has shown an improved first step and quicker burst toward the quarterback during spring practice, important traits as he looks to put this team on his back. His continued improvement, and a weight gain program which would put him up to 270 pounds by opening night, would make both he and the Rutgers defense in general more of a force this year.

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