Rutgers Team Report

Rutgers is making it impossible to ignore the Scarlet Knights' football program.

Left out of the preseason chatter about the power structure in the Big East, Rutgers served notice on Saturday that they'll be there in the end.

The Knights hammered Illinois, 33-0, for their second straight win. It was a great team effort, with scores on offense, defense and special teams in the first quarter.

With Ohio of the MAC coming to Piscataway next week, Rutgers has a chance to go to 3-0 for the first time since 1981. Howard follows the next week, and Rutgers could be 4-0 to start the year for the first time since 1980.

"It's a good start, but that's all it is," said defensive tackle Eric Foster. "We still have a long way to go."

The 1981 Knights fell apart after their 3-0 start, finishing just 5-6. You get the feeling things will be different with this group.

The 2006 Knights blew this game open early. The defense didn't allow Illinois to get past its own 48-yard line in the entire game.

"That's exactly what we needed as a defense," Foster said. "We know we can be a great defense that can carry this team if we need to. We just had to show it."

The Illini gained 126 yards in the game, the fewest total allowed by a Rutgers defense in 13 years.

Special teams got a blocked punt from Manny Collins -- Derrick Roberson fell on it for a touchdown - for the first score, the defense produced the second when Devin McCourty picked off a pass and ran 39 yards for a score. Then the offense, which didn't have a great day but didn't have to, got into the act.

Notes and Quotes
GAME BALL GOES TO: The Rutgers defense - The group didn't allow Illinois past its own 48-yard-line the entire game in routing the Illini, 33-0, to go to 2-0. The 126 yards allowed was the best effort by a Rutgers defense since Temple had 118 back on Oct. 2, 1993.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Ray Rice - He has hardly come out of nowhere, but Rice now has four straight 100-yard games to his credit after running for 108 on 23 carries in the win over Illinois.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To be a good football team, you need to score in different ways. We scored in all three phases, and that's what good teams do. I think we're getting better and better." - Rutgers coach Greg Schiano after the 33-0 win over Illinois

Strategy and Personnel
LOOKING GOOD: It's a long list after the rout of Illinois moved Rutgers to 2-0 on the season. But a good place to start is with the entire Rutgers defense, which didn't allow Illinois past its own 48 the entire day and notched the first shutout in four years. The Illini were 0-of-12 in third-down situations and had seven first downs and suffered five sacks.

RB Ray Rice -- Recorded his fourth straight 100-yard game when he ran for 108 yards on 23 carries.

P Joe Radigan -- Got his team off to a great start with a school-record 78-yard boot after the first possession of the game. The boomer helped set up Rutgers' first score.

DB Manny Collins - After picking off two passes, including the game-sealer against North Carolina, Collins, who moved into the starting lineup because of injury, blocked the first punt of the game (see image above) and Derrick Roberson fell on it for a TD.

DB Derrick Roberson - He had that special-teams score and also picked off a pass.

DB Devin McCourty - He intercepted a pass and ran 39 yards for a touchdown to give Rutgers an early 14-0 lead.

Governor Jon Corzine - The Illinois grad addressed the Rutgers team after the win. "I think everyone is excited," said Brian Leonard. "We just had the governor in here talking to us and he said he just loves Rutgers - and that was his alma mater we played."

STILL NEEDS WORK: K Jeremy Ito -- It might be nitpicking when your team scores three times in the first quarter, but Ito sliced the third extra point wide to the right, his first miss in 61 tries, the second of his career. He made up for it with field goals of 37 and 39 yards.

The Rutgers offense didn't have a very strong day - but it didn't have to because everything else was working. All-American RB Brian Leonard was held in check for a second straight week but said, "I don't care, we're winning."

ROSTER REPORT: DB Jason McCourty missed the game with an ankle injury - his twin brother, Devin, picking up the family slack with a 39-yard touchdown return with an interception. Jason is due back next week.

DB Leslie Jackman was carted off the field and will undergo season-ending surgery for his knee according to SOR.com.


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