RUTGERS REWIND – W/E October 1, 2005
Rutgers enjoyed their first bye week of the season during the week ending September 24th. On Sunday, Matei reported on New Jersey high school football scores from Week 3. Tom Atkins shared Head Coach Greg Schiano's perspective on the new season offered to the entire Big East by Louisville's stunning loss to South Florida. A loss that put the conference crown up for grabs. Schiano discussed the bye week and the emphasis on tackling. Brad Cunningham was cleared to play against Pittsburgh but Mike Teel aggravated his recurring high ankle sprain during the bye week.
On Monday, Matei interviewed LB Antonio Lowery (6-2 and 210) from Christopher Columbus HS in Miami, FL. Lowery has two dozen offers, including Boston College, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Lowery, who camped at Rutgers this summer, has not yet narrowed his list of schools. Dan Welch continued his tour of the Big East with a preview of the South Florida Bulls. The article reflected a preseason analysis of lost starters, expected replacements, and incoming recruits. Head Coach Jim Leavitt returns 16 starters – plus one kicker – from a young and inexperienced team. Dan predicted that South Florida will finish 3-8 (1-6 Big East). A six-game losing streak overlapping October will doom the Bulls' season.
On Tuesday, Matei interviewed OL John Tashjian (6- 3 and 240) from St. Joseph's Regional HS in Montvale, NJ. Tashjian is primarily receiving interest from the DI-AA ranks -- Lafayette, Hofstra, New Hampshire, and Towson. Although academic qualifying is not an issue, John may nonetheless spend a year in prep school to see if another year of development will garner bigger offers. Ryan Jordan interviewed LB Emanuel Cook (5-9 and 200) from Palm Beach Gardens HS in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Cook has received offers from Mississippi, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Rutgers, and South Carolina. Cook noted that Rutgers has been recruiting him the longest of any suitor. In Big East action, Miami of Ohio defeated rival Cincinnati, 44-16.
On Wednesday, Don Forbes interviewed OL/DL Chris Daino (6-4 and 270) from Neshaminy HS in Langhorne, PA. Daino has received offers from Akron and Rutgers. He will take his official visits after the end of football season. Don also interviewed WR/DB John Maddox (6-2 and 170) from West Philadelphia Catholic HS in Philadelphia, PA. Maddox has received offers from over 30 schools, including Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia. He is not planning to make a decision until he completes his official visits in January.
On Thursday, FoxSports also shared its weekly Rutgers Team Report. FoxSports questioned how a Scarlet Knights defense that gave up 33 points to Illinois, 444 yards to Villanova, and 21 first downs and 349 yards to Buffalo, would fare against a Pittsburgh offense that hung 41 points on the Scarlet Knights a year ago. Dan Welch re-published his preseason preview of the Pittsburgh Panthers to re-acquaint Rutgers fans with the visiting Panthers and the preseason expectations for the struggling Big East champs. Dan also shared his Keys to the Pittsburgh Game. Pittsburgh traveled to Rutgers with its season on the brink. Rutgers was likewise struggling. Dan expected this game to be a high scoring affair that would take 35 points to win. Dan's keys included (1) pressure and contain Panther QB Tyler Palko, (2) tackling, (3) powder puff pass coverage, (4) a fast start, and (5) controlling the line of scrimmage. Key individuals included Sr QB Ryan Hart, RS Sr DE Ryan Neill, RS Jr FB Brian Leonard, So FS Ron Girault, and RS Jr TE Clark Harris.
Rutgers made its second appearance on national television on Friday with a 37-29 victory over Pittsburgh on EPSN2. Rutgers exhibited its best half of football under Schiano in seizing a 27-0 halftime lead behind two TD receptions by Leonard, a 71-yard punt return by Jr PR Willie Foster, and two FGs by So PK Jeremy Ito while the defense limited the Panther offense to 125 yards. The 2nd Half was yet another white-knuckler. The Scarlet Knight offense went fetal, the defense became porous (allowing 267 yards and 29 points), and the special teams kick coverage units allowed generous return yardage that repeatedly gave Pittsburgh excellent field position. Tom Atkins wondered if It's Time?
In other Big East action, Louisville demolished Florida Atlantic 61-10, Connecticut crushed Army 47-13, West Virginia lost to #3 ranked Virginia Tech 34-17, Syracuse was thrashed by #6 ranked Florida State 38-14, and South Florida was beaten by #9 Miami 27-7. It was not a good week for the Big East in non-conference action. The league, desperately in need of credibility, was unable to spring an upset against three Top 10 ACC opponents.
Over on the basketball court, Mike Sullivan interviewed PF Jermaine Peterson (6-5 and 208) from Boys and Girls HS in New York City, NY. Peterson has received interest from Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, Massachusetts, Rutgers, and Stony Brook. However, he will likely attend prep school next year.
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