Kickoff Primer: What to Watch

Before heading over to Rutgers Stadium to tailgate or kickin' up the recliner to watch tonight's Big East opener against Connecticut, 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.

Two straight losses put Rutgers' sixth straight bowl appearance in jeopardy, but things can swing quickly since the Big East season opens tonight (7:30) when Connecticut visits Rutgers Stadium.

If the Scarlet Knights (2-2) have plans of contending for the league title, this game is ultra-important. Before heading out to tailgate, to gather with friends and kick back on your favorite chair, check out's kickoff primer.

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 Mohamed Sanu – It got to the point last week where coach Greg Schiano said the use of Jeremy Deering in the Wildcat was needed because of concern Sanu will get worn out from being used too much.
2. SS Joe Lefeged – He is hard hitter, a good tackler, smart, a leader, tough, Rutgers' best kick returner and he blocks punt. If you don't see No. 26 doing much on the field, odds are you are not watching.
Teddy Dellanganna
3. P Teddy Dellaganna – Yes, a punter makes the list. This should be a field position game, and it means Dellaganna's punting will tilt the field. It did against Tulane, albeit in a non-productive way.
4. QB Tom Savage or QB Chas Dodd – It doesn't matter which one plays, of if they both do. There is little reason to think the running game will be effective unless it plays off the passing game.
5. WR Jeremy Deering – It's no secret has trumpeted Deering's ability since the day he committed, and he is starting to show why. He made four catches and got some chances in the Wildcat last week.

Who has the most to prove?
1 . QB Tom Savage – This is turning into Savage's own personal space, but at least this week there is a caveat. Savage's availability is in question because of last week's hand injury, but if he plays, he needs to show confidence, patience and leadership.
2. MLB Steve Beauharnais – He is adjusting to life as a BCS middle linebacker, but it is time for him to have a breakout game in which he leads the team in tackles and is all over the field. He was moved to the middle to provide that, and against UConn's rushing attack it is time for that to happen.

Devon Watkis
3. RT Devon Watkis – There was great anticipation his insertion into the offensive line mix would help, but the right side of the unit still was porous and resulted in far too many pressures.
4. C Howard Barbieri – By the end of the first week of training camp the shot-gun snaps should be fine, so to still be having trouble in the fourth game is unacceptable. It disrupts the rhythm of the play, and that is the last thing the offense needs as it looks to build confidence.
5. WR Keith Stroud – He could have made a very nice catch in the end zone last week, but had it go off his hands. The Huskies have a young secondary, and there should be opportunity to get open.

Looking to build
1. RB Jordan Thomas – He ran with toughness against Tulane. He didn't go down easily, moving the pile on several occasions and also trying to run over a defensive back in the fourth quarter. Getting him more touches would be good for the offense.
2. QB Chas Dodd – Of course, this is if the true freshman plays. The offense was more rhythmic when he played last week, but he missed several open receivers and only led the Scarlet Knights to seven points.
Alex Silvestro
3. DE Alex Silvestro -- After a strong opener, the senior was quiet for a few weeks before registering five tackles last week. A similar effort would go a long way toward shutting down the Huskies' running game this week.
4. TE Fabian Ruiz – He was pressed into duty last week because of Evan Lampert's injured ankle. He had a tremendous block on Sanu's 91-yard run, but a hold to negate a run by Thomas.
5. FB Colin McEvoy – He moved from defense and made an immediate impact with a reach-behind catch and run. He showed tremendous athleticism on the play, and that alone could earn him more touches against UConn.

Poised for a breakout
Logan Ryan
CB Logan Ryan – The red-shirt freshman played with confidence and showed good instinct with increased playing time against Tulane, and that could be the case against Connecticut if cornerback Brandon Bing falters. Ryan plays plenty in the nickel packages, and has done a very good job. He is also a solid tackler.

Freshman worth watching
Jordan Thomas
RB Jordan Thomas – Was coach Greg Schiano hinting at something when he said during the week when he said Thomas was handling his work load fine? In limited attempts, Thomas has shown he can run between the tackles, get outside and is a threat in the passing game.
And Thomas doesn't even need the ball to attract attention. One of the best plays from a week ago was when Dodd pump-faked a swing pass to Thomas and threw downfield to Deering for a big gain.

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