Preview of the Howard Bison

Every year, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights play a Division 1-AA opponent. Most fans feel confidnet about these games, but they have given Rutgers problems in the past. Over the last few years, both Villanova and New Hampshire have pulled off upsets in Rutgers Stadium. The 1-AA team looking to put a scare into Rutgers this week are the Howard Bison.

The Howard Bison are the 4th game of the 2006 season for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. This 1-AA opponent enters the game with a 0-2 record after suffering losses to Hampton and Florida A&M. Despite these early set backs, the Bison have some talent on both sides of the ball.

On offense, the Bison have had a change in philosophy, going from a run-oriented, ball control attack, to a spread offense. They are also playing with several new players at key positions. As a result, the offense has yet to hit on all cylinders and is looking for consistency as a unit. At the QB position, they have rotated several players. Miami-Norland HS product Martin Decembert got the majority of playing time last week. On the year, he has passed for 140 yards and 2 TDs. The main back-up, 5'8" William Blanden, is a threat with the run. Last week, Blanden rushed for 80 yards on 7 carries. At RB, Keon Coleman is a 1-AA All-American candidate. This top back is coming off a 12 carry, 92 yard performance against FAMU. Backing-up Coleman will be Chaminade-Madonna product and Virginia Tech transfer Antoine Rutherford. The top returning receivers are Jahrahn Williams and Larry Duncan. Williams had 20 catches at 20 yards per catch last season. One WR to look out for is 6'5" Ulysses Alexander. Alexander was a top WR at Miami Northwestern HS and selected Auburn out of high school 2-years ago. He has transferred to Howard this year. The OL is led by All-MEAC pre-season selections LG Tommie Burns and Chaminade-Madonna product C Travis Harmon. However, the three other OL are new-comers to their respective positions.

Defensively, the Bison pride themselves in their ability to stop the run; only one RB had over a 100-yard game against them last year. And this year, the defense remains the strength of the team. The defensive line consists of some large bodies up-front. 6'3" 300 lb Edwin Piner is considered one of the top DTs in all 1-AA. Last year, he had 60 tackles including seven for loss. 6'4" 290 lb DT Marvin Wooten registered 8.5 tackles for loss. Both DE's, Jarrett Burgess and Rudy Hardie, are 270 lbs and are All-MEAC pre-season candidates. At the MLB spot, 6'0" 240 lb Tim Lockett is the rock on the inside. He registered 87 tackles last year. Dan Pierce plays the Will position. He had 79 stops last year and is considered one of the more athletic players on the team. SAM LB Robert Dowby missed most of last year with an injury after a solid 2004 campaign. In the secondary, Geoff Pope is a cover corner and may have NFL talent. He has been clocked at 4.29 in the 40-yard dash. The other CB, Randall Means is 5'8" 170, is very quick and is considered very solid in coverage. FS Joseph Claiborne played the CB position last year where he tallied 37 tackles and 6 pass break-ups.

Overall, this Howard club is a 1-AA team with some skilled players. However, the implementation of a new offensive system and youth at certain positions has caused it to have early struggles. While they may show some flashes this weekend against the Scarlet Knights, expect their struggles to continue, this time against a more athletic 1-A opponent.

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