Kickoff Primer: What to Watch

Before heading up to the New Meadowlands 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.

Rutgers tries to build on the momentum of last week's stirring come-from-behind win and faces Army in the final non-conference game of the season.

Rutgers sold the game to the New Meadowlands Stadium to turn a handsome profit, about $1.2 million more than a game at Rutgers Stadium, but will still be the home team. will be at the New Meadowlands 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. DT Scott Vallone – If he can clog the middle and get into the backfield to disrupt Army's offense, it will be a long day for the Black Knights and scoring will be very difficult. Think 2006 at Navy, when Rutger's Ramel Meekins had 12 tackles and two sacks in a shutout win.
2. RB Joe MartinekJordan Thomas has shown loads of promise, but on what is expected to be a windy day, nothing would ease the Rutgers' offense more than giving Martinek the ball 20-plus times and let him grind out a win.

Khaseem Greene
3. QB Chas Dodd – He is at the center of everything, and Army's defensive scheme will be predicated on stopping the run, forcing Dodd to throw the ball.
4. FS Khaseem Greene – He needs to be spot on with his assignments or Army's running game will run wild. Sound tackling and responsibility to assignments are keys in stopping the Black Knights. 5. WR Jeremy Deering – If he gets the ball in space, Army doesn't have the speed to catch him for a while.

Who has the most to prove?
1. WR Keith Stroud – He looked to be a pleasant surprise early in the season, then dropped a pair of crucial passes and got a holding call in last week's win.
2. CB Logan Ryan – He has played well so far, but he is yet to face an offense like Army's offense. He must tackle well because there will be times he is the difference between no gain and a big play.
Manny Abreu
3. LB Manny Abreu – He is coming off his best game of his career, and he attributes preparation as the reason why he is playing well this season. Well, knowing your assignments will never be more important than against Army.
4. WR Mohamed Sanu – The Wildcat lost steam last week and Sanu also dropped a pass in which he miss-timed a jump. He is really good, but Rutgers needs him to be great.
5. C Howard Barbieri – No longer are the snap issues something to get worked out in practice. They need to be better now because the last thing this offense needs is something else to throw the timing off.

Looking to build
1. RT Art Forst – After a rough start to the season, Forst did a nice job against Connecticut. He moved his feet well and didn't give up ground at the point of attack. Shifting him between tackle and guard has helped.
2. TE D.C. Jefferson – He stays on the list for a second straight week because he was a factor in the passing game against UConn, but he hasn't proven he can be consistent. He should be able to have a field day against Army since the tallest player on the defensive two-deep are a pair of 6-foot-2 linemen.
Jordan Thomas
3. RB Jordan Thomas – He is showing an ability to run the ball between the tackles and is running tougher. He bounced back quickly from last week's fumble and caught a big pass on the next play.
4. DE Alex Silvestro – After being quiet for a few games he broke out with a huge game against UConn. With how much Army tries to get to the edge, the tackles will be there if Silvestro is there.
5. PK San San Te – His first game-winning field goal in the closing minutes should give him confidence as he heads to a tricky place to kick.

Poised for a breakout
Mark Harrison
WR Mark Harrison – His confidence should now be bustling after his five-catch game against UConn. One could argue that was his breakout game, but he has the possibility to do even more damage against a smaller Army team that doesn't possess as much speed as most Big East secondaries.

Freshman worth watching
Antwan Lowery
OL Antwan Lowery – Rutgers has shown through the first five games it likes to run right, and that means Lowery, a red-shirt freshman right guard, could be making running lanes for Martinek, Thomas and Sanu. He is feisty, and his conditioning and level of intensity will be put to the test by Army.

Scarlet Report Top Stories