Time:Noon, High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
TV/Radio: Big Ten Network, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 97.5 FM
Series: Rutgers leads 3-0
Last meeting: Sept. 8, 2012, Rutgers won 26-0
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (3rd season, 16-11); Howard – Gary Harrell (Third Season, 12-11)
- Debut Opportunities -- Rutgers has a lot of players with the chance to make their first career appearance tomorrow against Howard. The Scarlet Knights traditionally use the second- and third-team guys when the game gets out of reach. Quarterback Chris Laviano, running backs Robert Martin and Josh Hicks and offensive linemen Dorian Miller, Derrick Nelson and Ryan Brodie will be some of the names to watch offensively. Look for names like linebackers Myles Nash and T.J. Taylor to get their first chances on defense.
- Weather the Storm -- Will the diehards pack the field with bad weather expected? Rutgers could sell as many as 50,000 tickets to the game, but heavy rain is in the forecast for an FCS opponents. What can Rutgers expect in terms of fan support? The rain will also have an effect on the Rutgers game plan in the home debut of coordinators Ralph Friedgen and Joe Rossi. Rutgers ran the ball effectively against Washington State, and has a chance for a ground-and-pound afternoon.
- Corner Boys -- Rutgers is without starter Justin Goodwin tomorrow and likely unable to use freshman Dre Boggs at corner for the second straight week. Goodwin is out with an upper body injury and Boggs is doubtful. What does this mean? The pressure is on senior Gareef Glashen to step up from week one. With Glashen as a starter and Nadir Barnwell and Anthony Cioffi set for big roles, Saturday could be the debut of true freshman Kam Lott with others unabailable.
When Hamilton is in the game, Howard is going to have a tough time establishing the run. For a team that looks to run first, the interior linemen have to find a way to slow down Hamilton. The junior dominated against Washington State, and will look to do so again in disrupting what the Bison do behind the line of scrimmage. Hamilton and nose tackle Kenneth Kirksey have the chance to take over early.
They focus on going 1-0 this week -- Let’s be realistic here. If Akron can win by more than 40 points in a shutout, Rutgers has to be able to do the same. There is a reason Rutgers started scheduling MEAC opponents. The result is a 10-0 record and 405-36 score in those games. The only way the Scarlet Knights run into trouble here is if they look completely ahead to Penn State.
There is a Miracle -- The Rutgers offense was at its worst when it still won 26-0 in Flood’s first home game as head coach. It is going to take all of the luck, coaching and execution in the world for Howard to pull something off here. Eventually the Rutgers depth and athleticism is going to shine through. The question is how quickly that happens, and how much Rutgers is able to protect its stars going into Penn State.
RB Paul James — This matchup has ground game written all over it, and James will make the most out of his limited touches against Howard. James doesn’t need more than 10 or 15 touches and has to stay fresh for Penn State. James is coming off a 173-yard, three-touchdown game against Washington State. Rutgers could use a similar impact tomorrow.
Something to Prove
CB Nadir Barnwell — It was a limited and inconsistent opener for Barnwell, who is coming off a training camp lower body injury. Barnwell came off the bench against Washington State, and will have to show improvement this week against Howard. The Bison give Barnwell a chance to get back on track and build confidence before Penn State arrives in town. With Goodwin and Boggs missing in action, Barnwell has an opportunity to win a starting spot and impress the coaching staff in a big way heading into Penn State. The sophomore emerged as a starter out of the spring, but took a back seat to Glashen and Goodwin against Washington State.
Looking to Build
RT J.J. Denman — Flood gave Denman his first true opportunity last week with 15 snaps against Washington State. Denman came up big as a run-blocker in the second of three Paul James touchdown runs. He gave up the lone WSU sack of the night in his other series. Look for Denman to be one of the many sophomores and freshmen to get a significant look from the coaching staff tomorrow afternoon.
Freshman to Watch
QB Chris Laviano — It is time to get another quarterback some live experience. Nova is the only Scarlet Knight with college experience under center, and that has to change. Laviano defeated junior Mike Bimonte for the backup job in training camp, and should get his first chance on the field tomorrow if Rutgers builds a large enough lead. He has not seen game action since his senior year at Hicksville (N.Y.) Holy Trinity.