Kickoff Primer: What to Watch

Before getting into game-mode for the season-opener, ScarletReport.com has the impact players, who has the most to prove, what players are in "building" mode and much more.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers kicks off its 2011 season in search of redemption after a 4-8 season in 2010. The Scarlet Knights' first test comes tonight in the form of North Carolina Central at 7:34 p.m. in the first game at HighPoint Solutions Stadium.

ScarletReport.com will be in attendance 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. QB Chas Dodd — No matter which receivers get open, Dodd will find them. The sophomore quarterback should not have too many problems with the N.C. Central secondary after practicing against his teammates through training camp. The only question is how many passing attempts Dodd will get.

2. RB Savon Huggins — The co-starter at running back, Huggins will have plenty of chances to show why he was a five-star recruit and one of the top running backs in the country. Even if De'Antwan Williams starts, expect the Scarlet Knights to give Huggins a solid dose of rushing attempts.

Scott Vallone
3. DT Scott Vallone — N.C. Central's interior linemen have playing experience, but not against a defensive tackle as tough as Vallone.

4. LB Khaseem Greene — Moving up a level, Greene has the speed to be a top linebacker. N.C. Central is his first test. Expect him to be all over any rushing attempt that gets past the first level.

5.RB De'Antwan Williams — Williams has a history of running well against 1-AA opponents and the Eagles could be his next victim. Finally earning a spot as a co-starter, the Rocket is ready for liftoff.

Who has the most to prove?
1. DE Manny Abreu —. Schiano likes Abreu enough to list him as a co-starter, but the fact remains that Abreu has no game experience as a defensive end and missed half of training camp with a concussion.

2. TE D.C. Jefferson — Neither Jefferson nor Paul Carrezola did enough to win the tight end battle in camp. But as an incumbent, two-year starter and member of the John Mackey Award watchlist, Jefferson has higher expectations.

D.C. Jefferson
3. P Anthony DiPaula or Justin Doerner — Whomever Schiano decided upon at punter, the pressure is on to replace Teddy Dellaganna. The only "organized turnover," Schiano considers the punt to be one of the most important plays in football.

4. RB Jeremy Deering — Jeremy Deering wore the black, no contact jersey for all but one of the Scarlet Knights' training camp practices. His status remains unclear for tonight, but he should play in some capacity.

5. RT Desmond Stapleton — Moved from left to right tackle in the offseason, Stapleton is the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster and he needs to play like it this season.

Looking to build
1. 1. WR Tim Wright — Finally healthy, Wright turned in a solid training camp. He needs to build on that after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.

2. WR Quron Pratt — Every spring and every camp, Pratt shows good things, but he has yet to do it in a live game. Emerging as the top receiver among the smaller, shifty guys, the Palmyra, N.J., native is excited for kickoff.

San San Te
3. K San San Te — Te turned in his best training camp as a Scarlet Knight and kicked well in both scrimmages. Looking to build on that, Te's first two games of the season are against teams from his home state.

4. LB Jamal Merrell — Merrell brings a lot of speed and enthusiasm for contact to strong-side linebacker. Merrell earned a spot with the first team after Ka'Lial Glaud's position change and did not look back.

5. C David Osei — The center job became a lock for Osei the instant Dallas Hendrikson tore his ACL in the spring. Osei put on size and improved his snapping this training camp and makes his first career start tonight.

Poised for a breakout
Savon Huggins
RB Savon Huggins — This is the moment fans have waited for since the St. Peters Prep star signed his National Letter of Intent . Huggins, in his first game as a Scarlet Knight, has a chance to tear it up against a 1-AA 4-2-5 defense. Listed as a co-starter with Williams, Huggins will get at least 10 touches and give the fans their first taste of what is to come.

Freshman worth watching
Gary Nova
QB Gary Nova — Schiano said Monday that Nova will play against North Carolina Central. Though there is no quarterback competition, Nova will find the field this season in a few key situations. The former Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) state champion quarterback put together a smooth training camp and will look to build on that tonight in his first career game.


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