Notebook: WVU to Test Rutgers Team Speed

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Because of the Friday night game, Rutgers has an extra day to rest and prepare for No. 24 West Virginia. The Mountaineers represent the first true spread test for the speedier Rutgers defense and hold a 16-game winning streak over the Scarlet Knights.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Scarlet Knights are well aware of the 16-game losing streak to West Virginia and would like nothing more than to be the ones to end it this year.

Not because of what it would mean to end the streak or finally get back at the Mountaineers, but because of what it means for this season.

"We need to win this game because of what it means this year, not in the past," said senior safety David Rowe. "The past games don't matter right now, but we know beating West Virginia right now is a step closer to our Big East goal."

For some players, the media's questions are the first time hearing about the losing streak. For others, 16 straight losses is common knowledge.

The theme for the entire team, however, is that thinking about it now does nothing to prepare for the 24th ranked team in the country this weekend.

"I think you get in a lot of trouble if you try to elevate one team over another team," said senior right guard Art Forst, who played his first career game against the Mountaineers in 2008. "I don't think that's how you build a successful program. I just think we need to continue to get better at how we're preparing and just trying to correct the things [from] last week. If you do that as a program and you do that consistently throughout the year, you get better. But if you try to amp it up for one team, then for the next team, you don't have as much juice so you get in trouble."

Team Speed

This is the week where Rutgers finds out if the position changes in the offseason were truly worth it.

So far, moving players like David Rowe, Khaseem Greene, Manny Abreu, Marvin Booker and Ka'Lial Gluad paid off, but the true test comes against West Virginia's spread offense.

"I feel pretty good about it," said Greene, who moved from safety to outside linebacker in spring camp. "We have a lot of speed out there. Those guys, obviously, have a whole lot of speed. But I think that the position changes and things like that helped us out a lot for spread offenses. We'll see on Saturday. We'll see how good of a switch it was and how effective it was."

Rutgers has had success against teams with spread packages, such as N.C. Central, Ohio and Pittsburgh, but West Virginia's offense is its own entity and the challenges begin with quarterback Geno Smith.

Junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone said Smith may be the best Big East quarterback he has ever played against.

"He's probably No. 1," Vallone said. "The guy has thrown for almost 3,000 yards already. It's pretty amazing. ... Obviously he's got the ability to get outside the pocket, but I don't think that's his first choice. I don't think he wants to get out and run. He does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, kind of like [Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater] did last week. We have to keep him in the pocket and make sure that we're hitting him."

The Home Run

Head coach Greg Schiano continues to stress the importance of hitting a home-run play on offense to get the offense moving in the right direction.

Rutgers came close in the passing game. Poorly thrown balls to Miles Shuler and Brandon Coleman ruined two changes against Louisville. Mark Harrison's drop did the same.

"It would be great for any team to get a home run," said quarterback Gary Nova. "I think one's coming our way. We had an unfortunate few plays happen and I think things are going to start rolling for us."

The running game also continues to search for an elusive "home run" with true freshman Savon Huggins coming close to breaking one Friday night.

"It's getting there," Huggins said. "It's close. I almost had one. It was really close."

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