Preview: Rutgers at Florida International

Rutgers travels to Florida International for its first road test of the season, and prior to Saturday's 8 p.m. kickoff at FIU Stadium, ScarletReport.com brings you the inside scoop on what to look for in the contest.

Rutgers (1-0) vs. Florida International (0-0)


Time: 8 p.m., Florida International Stadium
TV/Radio:SNY /710-AM, 1450-AM
Series: Rutgers leads, 1-0
Last meeting: Sept. 19, 2009: Rutgers 23, Florida International 15
Coaches: Rutgers –Greg Schiano (10th season, 52-51); Florida International – Mario Cristobal (4th season, 9-27)

Storylines
The first road game for a young team always brings uncertainty, and the Scarlet Knights have a lot of young players on the two-deep.
The offensive line was terribly inconsistent in the opener, and it needs to show it can run the ball when it has to run the ball. Also, so much of Rutgers' offensive success will fall on quarterback Tom Savage, who needs to be more accurate with his throws.
It is also a big recruiting game for the Rutgers in south Florida since the Scarlet Knights will be in the sports pages and on the minds of high school players, so a big effort would go far.
FIU is looking for a building-block win as it gets ready to get physically beat-up n the first month of the season since games at Texas A&M, Maryland and Pittsburgh follow.

Scouting Rutgers
Rutgers has the size and speed along its front seven to dominate the line of scrimmage against a team that averaged 104 rushing yards per game last season. with Charlie Noonan and Scott Vallone at defensive tackle and Steve Beauharnais at middle linebacker, the Scarlet Knights' strength on an already strong defense is through the middle of the field.
Rutgers' offensive package should be expanded from what it showed last week against Norfolk State, and the return of fifth-year senior running back Kordell Young could make for a big change in the backfield rotation.
Young is the third-down back, and is a pass-catching threat and superb blocker. Schiano said Young's return means Joe Martinek won't have to play as much, which could mean freshman running back Jordan Thomas will remain in the role he held in the opener when he rushed 13 times and caught two passes.
Rutgers' offensive line remains the biggest question as it looks to sort out mental mistakes and physical missteps that led to only six first-half points in the opener.

Kordell Young
Scouting Florida International
The unknown is the key with the Golden Panthers. As Cristobal enters his pivotal fourth season at the helm, he has two new coordinators, and since this is FIU's first game, there is no film for Rutgers to prepare on.
So, the Scarlet Knights go under the premise FIU will start Mississippi State transfer Wesley Carroll at quarterback, and given new offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield ran the spread at Toledo, it is a fair assumption that will happen this season.
Defensively, FIU lists a 3-4 defense on its two-deep, but Schiano said he thinks that could be a ploy as defensive coordinator Geoff Collins could bring a 4-3 with him from Central Florida.
However, since this is FIU's first game, don't be surprised if there is something going on offensively and defensively the team has been working on since spring practice, which will cause Rutgers to adjust.

Matchup to Watch
Rutgers' cornerbacks David Rowe and Brandon Bing against FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton. Rutgers was victimized by a few big plays against Norfolk State because of mismatches in coverage, Hilton can exploit those mismatches because he has the speed to turn a short pass into a touchdown.
Hilton made 57 catches for 632 yards and five touchdowns last season, and will be FIU's prime pass-catching threat this season.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Quarterback Tom Savage must pick apart the secondary. Running likely won't be the strong point of Rutgers all season, so games could fall on Savage's right shoulder. If he is accurate, the Scarlet Knights have the athletes at receiver to make big plays, and that will open up the running game.
Savage has to get time from the offensive line, which he did in the opener, and deliver passes on time and accurately.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
David Rowe
Contain Hilton, and play fast. A strong defensive game can fall apart quickly because of Hilton's ability to run after the catch, so tight coverage and delivering bone-jarring hits will go a long way in making FIU's offense move slowly.
Also, with Carroll sitting out a year under NCAA transfer rules, he will not be used to the speed of the game. The defense needs to take advantage of that by making him play faster, and make decisions before he is ready to.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
1. Accurate passing by Savage. Rutgers has the skill players to make big plays down the field, but those players need to get the ball. For the athleticism to take over, Savage has to perform well.

Tom Savage
2. Tackle well. FIU doesn't have the skill to beat Rutgers, if the Scarlet Knights play well. However, sloppy tackling leads to extended drives, which leads to scores, which leads to confidence. This team has lost 29 of its last 36 games, so the here-we-go-again factor exists.

3. Run the ball with some consistency. Rutgers doesn't need to average seven yards a carry, but when it is third-and-1, it needs to get the first down. A few nice rushes on first down will also open up play-action, and that is where the offense can really excel.

Three keys for a Florida International win
1. Create turnovers and make the field shorter. The Golden Knights ran for 42 yards last season against Rutgers, and this Scarlet Knights defense is better.

2. Use the element of surprise for a quick start. If FIU does things offensively Rutgers didn't practice for, it can build a lead before adjustments are made and play from behind as well as slow the game down.

3. Ride the experience of Carroll, who played as a freshman at Mississippi State before transferring closer to home. He won't be intimidated by Rutgers, and had success in a much bigger atmosphere.

Prediction
Rutgers 27, FIU 10

Scarlet Report Top Stories