ScarletReport.com has the impact players, who has the most to prove, which players are in "building" mode and much more.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers
is in first place in the Big East. After a comeback win against Syracuse
at the Carrier Dome, the Scarlet Knights take a 3-1 overall record against the 3-2 Pittsburgh
Panthers at High Point Solutions Stadium, with the winner coming away in sole possession of first place in the conference.
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.
1. WR Mohamed Sanu
— Can Sanu top his reception total for the fourth straight game? Probably not. But Syracuse may have to triple team him to slow down the best statistical start for a receiver under Greg Schiano.
2. QBs Chas Dodd and Gary Nova — Whichever quarterback makes the start, there will be plenty of passing opportunities against the Pittsburgh defense. Dodd, however, threw for just 62 yards against the Panthers last season. On the day of last year's Rutgers and Pittsburgh matchup, Nova was still happily committed to the Panthers.
3. OLB Jamal Merrell — On defense, he forced the fumble that won the game. On special teams, he blocked two kicks that allowed for Rutgers to force overtime. Merrell is no longer a secret weapon and is emerging as a top first-year player in the conference.
4. DT Justin Francis — Pittsburgh is worst in the country in sacks allowed. Look for the most experienced defensive linemen to exploit that weakness.
5. FB Joe Martinek — Master of the first down, "Jersey Joe" showed what a fullback is capable of in Frank Cignetti's offense against Syracuse. Look for more of that against Cignetti's old team.
Who has the most to prove?
1. K San San Te
— Te made the one that mattered most against Syracuse, but also missed three that could have led to a much quicker finish.
2. WR Brandon Coleman — Whatever was wrong with Mark Harrison two weeks ago, it looks like Coleman got infected. He and Nova built a strong connection and camp and will need to continue that should he win the job.
3. OL David Osei — The sophomore is one of the best blockers on the line, but struggled with his snaps yet again.
4. QB Chas Dodd — If Dodd wins the job, he needs to prove last week was an aberration.
5. TE D.C. Jefferson — Pitt tight ends killed Rutgers in the past. Now it's time for Cignetti to return the favor.
Looking to build
1. RG Antwan Lowery
— Lowery earned his way back into a game and played well against Syracuse. The big man is on his way to turning things around after a few rough weeks to begin the season.
2. WR Mark Harrison — The junior receiver looked more like his 2010 self last week. Look for Harrison to continue his recent success after early drop issues this year.
3. MLB Steve Beauharnais — Beauharnais played like an elite middle linebacker against the Orange and his late interception return almost won the game in regulation.
4. DT Daryl Stephenson — The Sayreville High School product saw a big boost in playing time last week and is key to stopping the Pittsburgh rushing attack off the bench.
5. DE Myles Jackson — Jackson now has a live game under his belt. The true freshman played primarily defensive end, but also stood up a few times. Defensive line depth is crucial against the fast-pace Pitt offense.
Poised for a breakout
DT Scott Vallone — Vallone is as well-conditioned as any defensive lineman in the Big East and can look forward to plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback against the worst offensive line in the country in terms of sacks allowed.
Freshman worth watching
QB Gary Nova — As a starter or off the bench, Nova will play in this game. After handling a raucous road environment last week, Nova should be ready for any amount of playing time back home this weekend against Pittsburgh. Keep in mind, at this time last year, Nova was a happy Pitt commit. A lot changes in a year.