Game Preview: Howard at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Kyle Flood is set to make his home debut tomorrow against Howard. With a huge Thursday matchup with USF looming, ScarletReport.com is here to look at the annual game against an FCS opponent and what Rutgers must do to get ready for its Big East opener.

Howard (1-0) at Rutgers (1-0)


Time: 3:30 p.m., High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
TV/Radio: SNY, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 610-WIP, 88.7 WRSU
Series: Rutgers leads 2-0
Last meeting: Sept. 12, 2009: Rutgers won,45-7
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (1st Season, 1-0); Howard – Gary Harrell (2nd season 7-6)

Storylines

  • Tune-up Game.This is the classic tune-up game story heading into South Florida. Howard is not a team that should be able to compete with Rutgers and it gives the Scarlet Knights and coach Kyle Flood a chance to weigh options heading into a huge game Thursday night.

  • Opportunities. Injuries to key players set up a series of younger Scarlet Knights for chances to prove themselves. Keep an eye out for receiver Miles Shuler, tight end Tyler Kroft, defensive end Myles Jackson and nose tackle Marquise Wright. All are expected to take on bigger roles with players injured ahead of them. Plenty of reps can be won by all four with solid showings.

  • Coming Home Rutgers is expecting an impressive turnout for the first home game under Flood. With more than 10,000 students expected at High Point Solutions Stadium, expect Flood's debut to be a memorable one.

Scouting Howard

Howard is in the middle of its own quarterback controversy with true freshman Jamie Cunningham snagging the job midway through last week's game. Cunningham completed 91 percent of his passes including the game-winner in the final minute.

Quarterback Jamie Cunningham
The Howard defense just gave up 29 points to Morehouse State. Expect Rutgers to have minimal issues cutting through the Bison. Keep an eye no No. 9 Tabrian Resby, who logged two sacks and 9.5 tackles in the opener.

Matchup to Watch
Gary Nova vs. Howard Secondary. The talent level of Howard's secondary gives Nova extra time to read the defense, work through his progressions and play smart football. Nova limited mistakes last week against Tulane and has improved since last season. He did, however, make his fair share of mistake, including a bad pre-snap read on an interception and nearly turning the ball over instead of eating a sack.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Start Strong.The longer Rutgers takes to put Howard away, the fewer opportunities it gets to play younger guys. This cannot be a game that s just 6-0 at the half.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Blitz.Rutgers faces a true freshman, FCS quarterback with less than 30 minutes of college football experience. Without showing too much, defensive coordinator Robb Smith needs to find a way to shake Cunningham and force mistakes.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
WR Miles Shuler
1. Don't Get Cocky. There is no need to be flashy or show too much of the playbook. On offense, let your receivers win 1-on-1 battles and grind out five-yard runs on first down. Defensively, don't get exotic with your blitzes. If the Rutgers front seven cannot pressure Howard, something is wrong.

2. Special Teams Execution. With Jeremy Deering beat up, someone else may have to step up on special teams. Coordinator Joe Rossi is off to a strong start after Tulane and can continue to get comfortable in his new role against Howard. If all goes well, look for Shuler and Mason Robinson to have an impact on special teams.

3. Show Up. Let's be serious. Rutgers has no business losing this game, or even allowing it to be competitive.

Three keys for a Howard win
1. Be unyielding. Howard cannot be willing to give up easy yards. The Bison have to go all out on every play for this to be competitive.

2. Don't Get Shook. Howard has experience in a big stadium (RFK Stadium), but has not seen a packed road crowd at the BCS level. Howard cannot get lost in the game-day experience at Rutgers. The Bison have to be realistic with their expectations and get out healthy to focus on competing in the MEAC.

3. Play that Funky Music. The closest thing Howard will see to a victory is if there is any sort of battle of the bands at halftime.

Prediction
Rutgers 31, Howard 0

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