Top 5 Questions at Start of Season

To get ready for tonight's chat and tomorrow's season-opener against North Carolina Central, takes a look at the top five questions going into the 2011 season.

The Rutgers football team has its sights set on redemption in 2011 after going 4-8 through trying times in 2010. The season kicks off tomorrow. To get ready, here are five questions Rutgers needs to answer to get back on track this season.

5. How comfortable are the key offensive players in Frank Cignetti's scheme?

Chas Dodd and company say they are comfortable and pleased with the new scheme, but they have yet to test it out against a real opponent.

Expect improvement accross the board in a more natural scheme, but there may be early growing pains.

4. Does Rutgers have enough at linebacker?

Coach Greg Schiano moved three members of last year's two-deep to the defense line, making Steve Beauharnais the lone man returning from last year's two-deep at the position.

David Milewski and Edmond Laryea both come off knee surgeries last season and true freshman Kevin Snyder has zero college experience. Outside of the two-deep, there are red-shirt freshmen Fred Overstreet and Sam Bergen.

Without question, the linebackers need to stay healthy this season.

3. Can the new-look defensive ends generate enough pressure off the edge?

Rutgers defensive ends had eight sacks last season. They belonged to Alex Silvestro, Jonathan Freeny and Justin Francis. Two are gone and one will start at defensive tackle this season.

Of the top five defensive ends on the roster, Michael Larrow leads with one sack from last season.

Manny Abreu, Ka'Lial Glaud, Marvin Booker and Marcus Thompson have the speed to do it, but have zero pass-rushing experience at the college level.

2. Is team speed the right defensive mindset?

The answer is yes, but does Rutgers have the right personnel to do bring back the swarm? There is no question that Rutgers has tremendous speed on all three levels. Certain defenders do not have the ideal body type for their positions. Is that a problem? It is impossible to say before the defense sees some live action.

When watching tomorrow's game, keep an eye out for Ka'Lial Glaud (13), Marvin Booker (56), Manny Abreu (51), Jamal Merrell (37), Khaseem Greene (20) and David Rowe (4). All moved positions after last season to improve team speed.

1. Will Dodd have the protection he needs?

From 61 sacks last season, the line has nowhere to go but up. The question is how improved the line can be.

To find success, Rutgers needs to nearly half its sack total and do a much better job protecting against the four-man rush. It is one thing if the line struggles against blitz pickup, but Chas Dodd needs more time when just the defensive line pressures him.

Rutgers has the receivers and the quarterback to be the best passing team in the Big East this season if the line can protect.

The team had the same starting five throughout all of training camp, which means that Andre Civil, Desmond Wynn, David Osei, Antwan Lowery and Desmond Stapleton are all much improved or that no one on the second team made a strong push. In reality, it is probably somewhere in the middle.

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