Kickoff Primer: What to Watch

Before heading over to Rutgers Stadium to tailgate or kickin' up the recliner to watch Saturday's Rutgers game against North Carolina, make sure you know what to be looking for. has the impact players, who has the most to prove, what players are in "building" mode and much more.

Rutgers returns from its bye week to face North Carolina at Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPNU) at Rutgers Stadium, and there is plenty to be answered for both teams.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a pair of disappointing offensive efforts but strong defensive showings while the Tar Heels are winless in two games but have faced vastly superior competition to what Rutgers saw. will be at Rutgers Stadium to report on the action and bring reaction from it, but also has you covered leading up to the game.

Who will make the biggest impact, who has the most to prove and who is the player to watch? Well, we've done our best to identify those things, and offer a few other fun tidbits.

Impact players
1. WR Quron Pratt – The red-shirt freshman returns after missing two games with a shoulder injury, and keep in mind he was the best receiver in spring practice.
2. FS Khaseem Greene – Keep in mind North Carolina has big receivers, and what better way to make them skittish going across the middle than to let loose with a big hit or two early?
Tom Savage
3. QB Tom Savage – He will have loads of pressure on him after two sub-par performances, and with a lack of a running game, he could be asked to win this one.
4. Specials teams coach Robb Smith – He was big in devising schemes the first two games to block four punts, and short fields are needed to help the offense.
5. PK San San Te – He was 2 of 3 at Florida International, and with the offense lackluster, his right leg could get a workout …and be the difference.

Who has the most to prove?
1. QB Tom Savage – He is not turning the ball over, but a .500 completion percentage and one touchdown against Norfolk State and FIU doesn't cut it. He has to be better for Rutgers to win.
2. Right tackle Art Forst – He has had trouble with a few blow-by plays in the first two games, and now with an increase talent and coaching level with UNC, he really has to show he can play on the outside.

Manny Abreu
3. LB Manny Abreu – He is fine moving forward and side-to-side, but can he cover? That question could go a long way in determining how the defense fares since UNC throws to its tight end a lot.
4. RB Jordan Thomas – He is a freshman, so expectations should be tempered. However, even if Joe Martinek plays, he could be gimpy since he is a game-time decision. That puts a lot of pressure on Thomas.
5. DE Jonathan Freeny – His job is to pressure he quarterback, and in two games against inferior competition he has a ½ sack and no quarterback hits.

Looking to build
1. CB Brandon Bing – The senior had an interception against FIU, but also was beaten several times. Consistency is his key, and he needs to get back to that.
2. LT Desmond Stapleton – He has not stood out, which given his position, is a good thing. However, he is also yet to prove he is a sure thing protecting the blind side.
Mohamed Sanu
3. WR Mohamed Sanu – The Wildcat had success with a 24-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard touchdown pass against FIU, but it still has to produce with more consistency. He has 13 carries for 63 yards.
4. TE D.C. Jefferson – The chicken and egg effect takes place with Jefferson, who needs to become more involved in the passing game, but much show he is reliable to become more involved.
5. WR Mark Harrison – He quietly made two catches at FIU as plays were designed with him as the top option, but he has to show he can get open on a consistent basis.

Poised for a breakout
Scott Vallone
DT Scott Vallone – He has two tackles in two games, partly because everyone is keying on stopping him in the interior of the defensive line. Vallone has the quickness to be able to get pressure on quarterback T.J. Yates through the middle, and the strength to be a factor in plugging the middle against the running game.

Freshman worth watching
Antwan Lowery
OL Antwan Lowery – The red-shirt freshman could see his most extensive playing time. He brings an aggressive, ferocious approach to the offensive line. It's not good enough for Lowery to pancake an opponent. He also wants to drive them into the ground after he already has the defender knocked down.

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