Preview: Rutgers at North Carolina

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Scarlet Knights are on the road to Chapel Hill, N.C., where it all began in 2006. Tomorrow against the Tar Heels, Rutgers faces its toughest non-conference opponent. previews the action.

Rutgers at North Carolina

Time: 12:30 p.m., Kenan Stadium Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
TV/Radio: SNY, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Rutgers leads 3-2
Last meeting: Sept. 25, 2010: UNC won, 17-13
Coaches: Rutgers – Greg Schiano (11th season, 60-63); North Carolina – Everett Withers (1-0, as interim head coach)


  • The Last Time in Chapel Hill. The theme among Rutgers plays is that "this game will define us." In 2006, the season-opening victory over the Tar Heels spearheaded a great season for the Scarlet Knights. A win over the Heels likely makes Rutgers undefeated before the start of Big East play. A loss going into a bye week could send the team in the opposite direction.

  • Huggins vs. UNC.Rutgers fans and Carolina fans alike remember what five-star recruit Savon Huggins pulled in the St. Peters Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) library last January. Revealing a Rutgers hat beneath a UNC hat, Huggins brought joy to Piscataway, but also sent a message to Chapel Hill, N.C. In his second college game, Huggins can expect a significant workload against the team that finished second for his services.

  • Non-conference Challenge The Scarlet Knights face their toughest non-conference opponent today in the form of the Tar Heels. Schiano remarked that the UNC offensive line is as tough as the team will face all season and gave the Tar Heels glowing reviews all week leading up to the game.

Scouting North Carolina

On offense, North Carolina has tremendous size in the trenches and play-makers at each skill position.

The challenges begin with a hulking offensive line. The Tar Heels have three 6-foot-7 starters and have an average weight of 319 pounds, to just 261 for the starting defensive linemen at Rutgers.

Sophomore 6-foot-3 quarterback Bryn Renner turned heads across the country when he went 22-for-23 passing last week. With his one incompletion going for an interception, Renner did not have the ball hit the ground once against James Madison. The Rutgers defense is craftier and more talented than JMU, which makes it unlikely for Renner to replicate is week 1 performance.

UNC's receivers are not as tough as Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate, who torched Rutgers in 2008, but still present problems. Behind an experienced offensive line, stopping the double-headed attack of Ryan Houston and Giovani Bernard will be tough for the Scarlet Knights.

Houston is the power back and Bernard has speed and quickness. At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Houston is the kind of hard runner that defenders do not look forward to tackling.

Quarterback Bryn Renner
Keep an eye on No. 90 Quinton Couples, the next big-time North Carolina defender. Heralded by Schiano as a top NFL Draft pick, Couples racked up two sacks against JMU and stands at 6-foot-6, 290 pounds. He will match up against tackles Civil and Stapleton and could be the difference-maker.

Linebacker Kevin Riddick has 21 career starts. He and linebacker Zack Brown combined for 10 tackles and three TFLs in week 1.

Matchup to Watch
North Carolina's Quinton Couples vs. Rutgers tackles Andre Civil and Desmond Stapleotn. If Rutgers wants to compete with the Tar Heels, it needs to hold Couples at bay. A future top NFL Draft pick, Couples will give Civil and Stapleton problems off the edge. The challenge is to keep Couples from being a game-changer.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Establish the run.The best way to make use of Chas Dodd's talented passing arsenal is to force UNC to pay attention to the run. The 3.3 yards per carry against N.C. Central will not cut it against UNC. The offensive line must improve its run-blocking and the trio of running backs expect touches — Jeremy Deering, De'Antwan Williams and Huggins — have to make plays.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Continued success.Repeating a 15 TFL, nine-sack performance is not going to happen, but the Scarlet Knights cannot revert back to last season's weakness in the backfield. North Carolina has a steady passing game and two legitimate running backs. The only way to keep the Tar Heels on their toes is to play like a Greg Schiano defense should play. That means swarm the ball, get pressure and execute on special teams.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
Mohamed Sanu
1. Run that ball. Chas Dodd has plenty of weapons at receiver, but the best way to get time to throw and one-on-one matchups is to improve on the 3.3 yards per carry from last week.

2. Special teams excellence. Losing Mason Robinson hurts, but it does not have to be devastating. Whether it ends up being Sanu, or some combination of receivers, punt return and punt block are game-changers for the Scarlet Knights. If the opportunity arises, Rutgers cannot miss two clear paths to the punter like it did against N.C. Central.

3. Let Frank be Frank. It is time to see what Frank Cignetti can do. There can be no holding back in the play-calling against a defense as experienced and athletic as UNC. Spread the ball, draw up plays to protect Dodd and keep the Heels on their toes.

Three keys for a North Carolina win
1. Put Dodd on his back. Dodd did not get sacked for the first time in his career against N.C. Central, but still did not perform at his best. If UNC replicates its five sacks and 10 TFLs from last season, the Scarlet Knights' offense does not stand a chance.

2. Protect Renner. The Rutgers defense, especially with Schiano calling plays, is a different animal from James Madison. Renner has not faced a defense like Rutgers.

3. Score early. UNC let Rutgers get on top last season and it took a lot of fighting to re-take the lead. If the Tar Heels can score first, it will be tough for Rutgers to battle back on the road.

Football 101
To help familiarize the less rabid fans with the X's and O's of college football, break down a factor relevant to each game before kickoff. This week, we break down the "delayed blitz," which Rutgers executed perfectly on its first defensive touchdown against N.C. Central.

A delayed blitz is executed exactly how it sounds. Instead of instantly sending a defender at/around the offensive line to get to the quarterback, he waits for blocks to develop and then finds a hole to get through for a sack.

Against N.C. Central, middle linebacker David Milewski executed a delayed blitz. By first sending Steve Beauharnais and Wayne Warren at the right side of the offensive line, no one was left to block Milewski, who stripped the quarterback and allowed Scott Vallone to recover the fumble in the end zone.

North Carolina 23, Rutgers 17

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