RUTGERS REWIND – W/E August 20, 2005
Summer camp rolled into its second week on Sunday. The temperature on the practice field was 130 degrees on Saturday. This is good, as long as the heat compromises nobody's health. The weather has been hot out in Illinois, too. Rutgers fans saw what a huge difference heat was last year when one team (Michigan State) was not accustomed to it. Rutgers should be prepared for hot weather, should it be in the forecast for September 4th.
On Sunday, the Star Ledger featured an article about Mackey Award Candidate RS Jr TE Clark Harris. The Sporting New published a Big East Preview later in the week. The preview contained comments from league coaches. One of who stated that Harris is overrated. I can't say that I disagree with that sentiment. Harris is a terrific receiver and poses matchup problems for opposing defense. But his run blocking was awful last year. He was repeatedly beaten by opposing DEs at the point of attack on Rutgers' bread-n-butter Power G. As a result, the pulling guard was disrupted and the MLB was unblocked in the hole, rendering the play ineffective. If Harris is to worthy of the honors, his running blocking must improve substantially.
The Courier News featured on article about So LG Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah and RS So LT Pedro Sosa are being counted upon to man the left side of the OLine. Both struggled in the Spring Game. New OLine Coach Kyle Flood had a tall order awaiting him upon arriving on the Banks. Rebuilding an underperforming unit with few experienced players.
Sunday was Media Day at Rutgers, uncharacteristically one week into camp rather than prior to camp. Matei was there to cover the event for Rutgers.Scout.com. "Right now, one week into training camp I am very encouraged by what I am seeing. I think that directly correlates with our senior leadership. Finally, our playmakers are also the guys that have been here for 4 or 5 years," stated Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano. Leadership, or the lack thereof, was a tremendous problem last year as the team drifted aimlessly throughout the season. Leaders must emerge. And they must lead. No more of this "we just weren't ready to play" nonsense. Matei interviewed some of the freshman class. Coverage from the papers was surprisingly sparse. Perhaps by design, in order to reduce the news stories about expectations for Schiano's fifth season. Instead, the papers featured articles RS Jr WR Shawn Tucker, RS So DE Eric Foster, and Fr WR Tiquan Underwood. Kickoff Celebration also occurred on Sunday. A chance for the fans to meet the team.
Matei interviewed Abraham Kromah (6-1 and 205) pounds Tottenville HS in Staten Island, NY. Kromah participated in Rutgers' camp this past June and had an opportunity to see the campus and nearby surroundings. Although Rutgers has shown interest, Kromah has not yet been offered a scholarship.
Rutgers released its Television Schedule on Monday. At least seven games will be televised, including three appearances on ESPN2. The papers featured articles about Jr WR Willie Foster and RS Fr WR Keith Taylor. RS Fr S Robert Baham may miss the season with a hip injury, thinning the ranks at safety to a one-deep of experienced players. RS Jr Joe Giacobbe and JUCO Jr Darnell Stapleton separated themselves from a four-way battle for the starting center job with two scrimmaged on the schedule for later in the week. Rutgers held scrimmages on Tuesday and Saturday. Rutgers.Scout.com was also in attendance at practice on Wednesday and Thursday. In Tuesday's scrimmage:
- A defense thin at DT and safety thoroughly dominated an offense returning most of its talent.
- Sr QB Ryan Hart threw a pick-six and So PK Jeremy Ito kicked two FGs from inside the 10-yard line. I'd say the offense is rounding into mid-season form. Hart threw 19 INTs and four TD to the bad guys last year. You play as you practice. And Hart is still throwing TDs to the wrong team. In my opinion, Hart needs to be put on notice. Let him split first team repetitions with RS Fr QB Mike Teel. And let him earn his playing from there. Enough of the nonsense. A west coast offense cannot operate with a QB who cannot take care of the football.
- RS Sr TB Clarence Pittman runs for 90 yards in the Spring Game and his reward is reps with the third team OLine. Why was this guy invited back for a fifth year if he is just going to be relegated to the bottom of the depth chart? I wonder what Marcus Jones says to Clarence these days?
- Sr Gilkison is listed as a starting LB. Apparently at WLB. When Gilkison last played WLB in 2003, Connecticut and Boston College ran counters past Gilkison all day long. In two years, Gilkison has shown a problem finding the ball, getting stuck in traffic, and getting off blocks. If he is one of Rutgers three best LBs, this is not a good sign for the defense.
- Seven true freshman DBs played in the scrimmage. With So FS Ron Girault out with a hamstring injury, Courtney Greene played with the first team. The secondary has suffered attrition that is reminiscent of 1999, when former Head Coach Terry Shea lost the equivalent of a two-deep before the season opener.
Don Forbes and Matei interviewed Schiano prior to summer camp. In the first of a two-part series, Schiano addressed issues ranging from veteran leadership, the performance of Hart, Schiano's defensive coordinator responsibilities, defensive tackles, and the OLine.
Dan Welch began his annual preseason tour of the Big East with a look at the Louisville Cardinals, who are expected to represent the Big East in the BCS in their inaugural season. Head Coach Bobby Petrino returns eleven starters plus one kicker from a team that was minutes away from crashing the BCS. I predict that Louisville (11-0, 7-0 Big East) will go undefeated against an accommodating schedule. Louisville will beat Pittsburgh in the Big East game of the year to cement the Big East title and BCS bowl bid. A schedule that features six bowl teams from 2004 nonetheless lacks significant challenges that will not allow Louisville to overcome the Big Least stigma. Instead of playing in the Rose Bowl for the national championship, the Cardinals will face SEC champion Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl.
Thursday's news featured articles about Sr SLB Terry Bynes, the battle at center between Giacobbe and Stapleton, and the freshmen. RS Jr C Will Vogt reinjured his shoulder. Both Sr DT Luis Rivas (foot) and Girault (hamstring) missed the week of practice. Friday's news featured an article about former walk-on Jr DT Rameel Meekins and the OLine.
In basketball news, Mike Sullivan interviewed rising high school senior Lance Thomas (6-8 and 200) from St. Benedict's in New Jersey. Thomas currently includes Rutgers in his short-list of colleges.
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