ScarletReport.com has the impact players, who has the most to prove, which players are in "building" mode and much more.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — For the first time this season, Rutgers
enters a game with two straight losses under its belt. Facing an athletic South Florida
team, the Scarlet Knights (5-3, 2-2) take their third shot at bowl eligibility.
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
— Who else? Even in an "off game," Sanu caught five passes and scored a touchdown. Last time the Bulls came to Piscataway, Sanu totaled 118 yards on nine touches.
2. DT Justin Francis — The fifth-year senior finds himself in the backfield more and more as the season goes on. Against a mobile quarterback like B.J. Daniels, Francis is key pressuring him up the middle.
3. RB Jawan Jamison
— As the run-blocking improves, so does Jamison. The red-shirt freshman hit 100 yards against Navy
and had his first two-score game last week against West Virginia
4. MLB Steve Beauharnais — Coach Greg Schiano said himself that Beauharnais had his breakout game against the Bulls. Look for the junior to be a force in the run-game and prevent Daniels from making moves up the middle.
5. WR Quron Pratt — Pratt has gone from a blocking specialist to the second most productive receiver on the roster. He is second on the team in catches and made three first-down catches last week.
Who has the most to prove?
1. QB Gary Nova
— No player on the roster is under more scrutiny than Nova after nine turnovers in his last three games. The true freshman remains the starting quarterback, but the turnovers need to stop, Schiano said.
2. DE Jamil Merrell — Merrell was underwhelming in his first career start, including a critical mistake on one of Tavon Austin's long runs.
3. WR Brandon Coleman
— The drops keep coming for Coleman. At this point, the red-shirt freshman has more drops than catches.
4. CB Brandon Jones — Jones did not have his best performance against WVU. His tipped ball on a Mountaineer touchdown would have simply dropped to the turf if Jones let it go .
5. DE Marcus Thompson — Thompson lost a lot of playing time to Merrell last week, but could see an increase after Merrell's struggles as a starter.
Looking to build
1. K San San Te
— Nothing says rebound like a 40-yard field goal in two inches of snow..
2. WR Mark Harrison — Like Te, Harrison rebounded from an embarrassing play at Louisville by coming through Saturday against the Mountaineers.
3. FB Michael Burton
— Burton continues to evolve his role in the offense. Alongside Joe Martinek
, the North Jersey pair represent key weapons at fullback.
4. RT Desmond Stapleton — Still playing behind freshman Kaleb Johnson, Stapleton laid the key block on Jamison's fourth-down touchdown run.
5. WR Tim Wright — Wright continues to make catches in his first season back from knee surgery.
Poised for a breakout
MLB Steve Beauharnais — In two games against Daniels, Beauharnais has nine tackles, 2.5 TFLs and a sack. The middle linebacker is crucial to making Daniels one-dimensional. Rutgers gave up 157 rushing yards against USF last year and Beauharnais' linebackers are the key to preventing a repeat.
Freshman worth watching
WR Miles Shuler — Sooner or later, Shuler's time is coming. He came in late during the last two losses, but did not get the ball. No one on the South Florida defense has Shuler's speed and Rutgers can use that to its advantage in a key situation.