Vallone Ready to Meet UNC Challenge

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Ten days after a dominant performance against N.C. Central, junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone leads the Rutgers D-line against a much tougher Carolina team. Vallone, speaking Monday at Rutgers' weekly press luncheon, discussed the challenges of the UNC offensive attack.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano did not hold back when describing the challenges presented by the North Carolina offensive line.

"The step up in competition, this O-line, I don't want to, you know, overdo it, but this O-line is as good as we'll face," Schiano said. "They are huge, they are athletic, they are experienced. I don't know what they are not. They are very good. So we are going to get — we are not very big, so it will be interesting."

The Tar Heels hold a tremendous size advantage in the trenches against the Rutgers defensive line.

The first-team offensive line averages a height of 6-foot-5 and weight of 319 pounds. That dwarfs the projected starters on the Rutgers defensive line, averaging in at 6-foot-3, 261 pounds.

Junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone, the anchor of Rutgers' line, said the size advantage will be a challenge, but one he thinks the team can overcome.

"They're big guys and they're athletic too," Vallone said. "I think it's going to be a real challenge for us, but I think we're up for the challenge. I think they're very big, but I think we're also skilled and we're crafty guys and we're going to be able to use our leverage and our hands and our quickness to our advantage."

Vallone does not just see a challenge in the trenches, however. As a defense, the Scarlet Knights have to be aware of the talent at the skill positions.

At quarterback, UNC has 6-foot-3 sophomore Bryn Renner, who went 22-for-23 passing in the team's season-opening win over James Madison. To keep Renner at bay, Vallone said they need to generate pressure.

"I think he came out last week and did a good job finding his open receivers and everything," Vallone said. "We know if we want to disrupt that rhythm, we have to come out and we have to pressure him.

"You notice [numbers like that], but credit to him, I think the coaching staff came out with a good gameplan and he was able to execute it. He was able to do his job and I think we're going to have to be able to disrupt him this week."

Running backs Ryan Houston and Giovani Bernard present a thunder-and-lightning type backfield. Houston, a senior, is 6-foot-2, 245 pounds and runs powerfully. Bernard's greatest asset is his quickness.

"Another challenge for us," Vallone said. "I think [Houston] is a very good back and he's been there for a long time. He was there my freshman year also. [Bernard] is a very downhill, slasher type and they give us a lot of issues."

If Scarlet Knights comes close to replicating its numbers from the shutout of N.C. Central, they create big problems for the Tar Heels.

Rutgers sacked the quarterback nine times, half as much as all of last season, and recorded 15 tackles for loss.

"I think we can be as good as we were if we're able to come out and perform to the best of our ability," Vallone said. "I think we're up for performances like that. Obviously, we're going to have to continue to work hard and remember what got us to that point and what the work ethic was and the performance level was, but I think we are very capable of doing that."

Vallone said he is proud of the improvement on the defensive line since last season and a return to what is expected out of a Schiano-coached defense.

"Even when I was getting recruited, that's how the defense played," Vallone said. "Obviously last year's performances wasn't that good, but that first half of the year, I thought that we played pretty well too. I think we were getting after the quarterback. I think ... we were getting a lot of hits on the quarterback, just the sack numbers were not there. I think, this year in the first game, we were able to get some numbers and we're just looking to build off that."

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