Kickoff Primer: What to Watch

Before heading up to Heinz Field to tailgate or kickin' up the recliner to watch Saturday's Big East matchup against at Pittsburgh, make sure you know what to be looking for. ScarletReport.com has the impact players, who has the most to prove, what players are in "building" mode and much more.

Rutgers returns to the field for what could be a therapeutic experience as the Scarlet Knights play for the first time since defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was critically injured last week.

The Scarlet Knights also return to Big East play as they travel to Pittsburgh for Saturday's noon kickoff.

ScarletReport.com will be at Heinz Field to report on the action and bring reaction from it, but ScarletReport.com 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 Eric LeGrand – This is a symbolic pick because no matter what happens since last week reminded everyone what is really important when it comes to playing a game.
2. SS Joe Lefeged – In this case, look at Lefeged as a kick returner. There will likely be periods of low-emotion for Rutgers, but that can be swung quickly with a kick return. Lefeged is very good at it, and is due to break a long one.

D.C. Jefferson
3. TE D.C. Jefferson – He is beginning to become a fixture in the offense, and it doesn't matter what defense is being run, quarterback Chas Dodd is comfortable throwing him the ball in tight spaces.
4. WLB Antonio Lowery – The senior made 19 tackles last week against Army, which means his pursuit and tackling were off the charts. Only high energy allows for that many tackles, and he has to bring it again.
5. QB Chas Dodd – It took two games to realize the freshman doesn't get shaken easily and he can deliver in an unreal way in the clutch. Now, what happens if he plays four quarters like it's the last 10 minutes?

Who has the most to prove?
1. SLB Ka'Lial Glaud – It is a borderline unfair spot to put him in. First career start after spending training camp and the first month of the season at weakside linebacker, moving him to the middle because of injury and now shifting him to strongside because Manny Abreu is out with a knee injury. But, the kid has tremendous talent.
2. RB De'Antwan Williams – Oh, the message board should be fun on this one. Coach Greg Schiano said he can see Williams being in the mix. He has waited 14 months to be in the mix, but that mix may not last more than two or three carries if he doesn't produce.
De'Antwan Williams
3. OT Devon Watkis – He had a brutal game against Army with a number of false start penalties. One game doesn't a career make, though, or Pedro Sosa's career would have ended at Syracuse. Watkis needs to show more poise when he plays because he has the feet to be successful on the edge.
4. CB Brandon Bing – If he performs well here, he will work his way to the Impact list next week. Going against 6-foot-5 receivers is going to be a chore. Let's see how he handles it.
5. DE Jonathan Freeny – The senior has a half-sack in six games. He needs to find the quarterback.

Looking to build
1. C Howard Barbieri – For the first time all season there weren't problems with bad snaps last week against Army. The next step is to make sure there aren't any questions the rest of the season.
2. WR Keith Stroud – After dealing with the drops against Connecticut, he made a third-down overtime catch to set up the game-winning score, and did it in traffic and got hit hard in doing so.
Joe Martinek
3. RB Joe Martinek – It has been baby-steps in terms of improvement from the ankle injury. He doesn't need to run for 150 yards, but carrying 15 times this game could do wonders for the offense.
4. LG Desmond Wynn – Credit him for showing toughness in returning from an injury in the second half against Army, and also for doing a solid job in protection. Although there were issues across the line, he wasn't a central figure in those issues.
5. RB Kordell Young – He had a big third-down play against UConn and scored on a 3-yard pass on fourth down against Army. Both came in the fourth quarter, but he could be ready to make an impact catching or running the ball earlier in the game.

Poised for a breakout
Khaseem Greene
FS Khaseem Greene – The brother of Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham is a hard hitter with speed and ability to dominate in the secondary. He has shown flashes of it, but is yet to put together the truly breakout game that will make everyone in the Big East take notice despite being fifth on the team in tackles (37) and holding one of the three interception by the secondary.

Freshman worth watching
Marcus Thompson
SLB Marcus Thompson – Note sure he will play, but keep checking the defense for No. 48. He is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds of muscle and runs very well. He can make an impact, as long as he is in the right position. He was a linebacker in high school and started his Rutgers career there, but was moved to defensive end early in the season. The injuries to linebackers forced his return last week.

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