As if the poor south hasn't suffered enough this year.
Hurricane Ivan, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Jeanne ...
And now ... Hurricane Rutgers.
I have been saying all season that the Knights had the tools on offense to win games ... Saturday night, they used them and the poor denizens of Nashville were left to sift through the wreckage, wondering what happened.
The game had some Rutgers fans wondering also.
For the first thirty five minute of the game, the Knights looked less like a hurricane and more like the Keystone Cops. The Scarlet dug themselves a twenty four point hole and gave every indication that they weren't even going to be competitive against the Commodores.
But then Brian Leonard unfurled the storm flags. In the next twenty five minutes Leonard would score four of Rutgers five touchdowns including the score that would put them ahead for good. When Rutgers is bad, it is very, very bad ... but when it is good ...
Things to feel good about
Ryan Hart had his second straight 300 plus yard game. Hart was 31 for 40 for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan has passed UConn's Dan Orlovsky for average passing yards per game with 288 YPG. Hart is just behind Orlovsky in passing efficiency. Hart has a rating of 132.9, Orlovsky is 145.2. These could end up being important stats before the season is over.
Brian Leonard was back in the lineup. Brian had15 carries, 50 yards; 9 catches, 64 yards. He now leads the Big East in receptions per game with 7 CPG. He is fourth in rushing at 80.5 YPG. Leonard leads the Big East in all purpose yards per game with 133.8 ypg.
Tres Moses had his second straight 10 (or more) reception game and his second straight 100 yard plus game. Moses is second in the Big East in receptions behind Leonard and is fourth in the league in receiving yards per game. The Knights have four receivers in the top ten in the Big East. Moses, Clark Harris, Brian Leonard and Chris Baker who is now averaging over 50 yards a game in receptions.
Instead of finding a way to lose, Rutgers found a way to win this game.
Things to be concerned about
The Knights fumbled 4 times, losing the ball twice. Rutgers also gave up an interception for a touchdown. Early turnovers almost cost them the game.
Rutgers had only 49 net rushing yards for the game. To Schiano's credit, he did not try to force the rushing game and running plays were generally called when not expected. Still, the Knights will have to get more production out of the run game in order to keep opponents honest.
The Rutgers secondary gave up 260 yards passing to Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler. We'll be facing some good QB's in coming games in Walter Washington (Temple); Tyler Palko (Pittsburgh); Rasheed Marshall (West Virginia); Paul Peterson (Boston College) and Dan Orlovsky (UConn). We'll never get our secondary problems fixed in time for those games, but we must at least improve the situation. We had better or we'll be in for some long autumn afternoons.
1 2 3 4 OT Total RUTGERS 3 0 13 21 - 37 VANDERBILT 10 10 14 0 - 34
VANDERBILT P Johnson 33 YD VANDERBILT D Morris 29 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (P Johnson KICK) RUTGERS J Ito 35 YD VANDERBILT J Jennings 9 YD RUN (P Johnson KICK) VANDERBILT P Johnson 44 YD VANDERBILT E Davis 27 YD PASS FROM J Cutler (P Johnson KICK) RUTGERS B Leonard 2 YD RUN (J Ito KICK) RUTGERS B Leonard 3 YD RUN (PAT FAILED) VANDERBILT J Cutler 2 YD RUN (P Johnson KICK) RUTGERS C Baker 19 YD PASS FROM R Hart (J Ito KICK) RUTGERS B Leonard 9 YD PASS FROM R Hart (TWO-POINT CONVERSION FAILED) RUTGERS B Leonard 1 YD RUN (R Hart PASS TO T Moses FOR TWO-POINT CONVERSION)
RUTGERS VANDERBILT 1st Downs 24 19 Punts-Average 3 - 45.3 5 - 32 Return Yards 63 38 Penalties-Yards 3 - 20 6 - 49 Fumbles-Lost 4 - 2 3 - 1 Time Of Pos. 30:00 30:00 Net Yards Rushing 49 136 Rushes 27 40 Net Yards Passing 344 260 Comp.-Att. 31 - 40 14 - 21 Sacked-Yards Lost 2 - 21 4 - 29 Had Intercepted 1 0
RUTGERS ATT YDS Brian Leonard 15 50 Clarence Pittman 7 31 - Team 1 -1 Markis Facyson 1 -4 Ryan Hart 3 -27
VANDERBILT ATT YDS Jay Cutler 13 56 Kwane Doster 7 27 Norval McKenzie 6 19 Steven Bright 4 17 Jeff Jennings 3 14 Matthew Tant 6 9 Brandon Smith 1 -6
RUTGERS CP/AT YDS INT Ryan Hart 31/40 344 1
VANDERBILT CP/AT YDS INT Jay Cutler 14/18 260 0 Steven Bright 0/3 0 0
RUTGERS REC YDS Tres Moses 11 147 Chris Baker 6 90 Brian Leonard 9 64 Clark Harris 3 35 Markis Facyson 2 8
VANDERBILT REC YDS Brandon Smith 5 130 Dustin Dunning 3 43 Erik Davis 2 42 Matthew Tant 2 26 Norval McKenzie 1 18 Kwane Doster 1 1
Looking down the road
Rutgers next two opponents are Temple and Pittsburgh. I saw them play each other on Saturday. They are both awful. Rutgers could beat either one of them. Temple actually outplayed Pitt but twice the Owls were unable to punch scores in from the one yard line. Both teams do indeed have good quarterbacks who can find open receivers. That has to be a concern considering Rutgers problems in the secondary.
On the other hand neither team demonstrates the overall skill level that the Knights show. Despite years of vaunted recruiting classes, the Panthers are slow and lacking in athleticism. Temple has some solid JUCO players on defense, but they don't have the overall talent of the Knights on either offense or defense.
If RU can ameliorate their problems in the secondary they could beat both of these teams. That would make them 5-2 and one game shy of you know what.
Seeing Red: Redux
Syracuse played a surprisingly strong game against Florida State on Saturday night. An Orange pass attempt into the endzone would have won the game had the pass been just a little bit higher. However, a bigger Big East - ACC showdown looms on the horizon.
Louisville plays Miami on Thursday night. Both teams are teams are undefeated, both teams are ranked nationally. I have the feeling that Louisville could pull off the upset. Miami is not as balanced as it has been in the recent past. The Hurricanes defense is exceptional but their offense is not up to the level of Miami teams of the recent past. Brock Berlin, for instance, is a decent but not great quarterback and the receivers, though good, are not exceptional. None of them are near the caliber of a player like Santana Moss. It is no different on the ground. Frank Gore's running game is solid but no one is talking Heisman about him. Miami simply doesn't have the killer offense that they usually possess.
Louisville on the other hand is a very balanced team that is solid on both offense and defense. They are second nationally in offense and ninth nationally in defense. Miami is second nationally in defense but 80th in offense. Yes, 80th in total offense, that is not a misprint. Miami has played the tougher schedule but their schedule to date has not been a killer, by any means.
Louisville has a sharp, young coach in Bobby Petrino. I have watched some of the games he has coached this season. Petrino is an excellent play caller and strategist. You can bet that he'll try to "out scheme" the Hurricanes rather than overpower them. Expect him to set up plays to take advantage of over pursuit by Miami's defense. On offense I think that the Cardinals can go "toe to toe" with the Hurricanes.
This may be one of the more interesting games of the season. It'll be televised nationally on Thursday night on ESPN.
Mike and the Big Dog LLC
Like a Hurricane
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