Rutgers vs. Navy - Who has the edge?

Both Rutgers and Navy will play their second game of the season in Piscataway, New Jersey on Friday, September 7th. Which units have the edge? SOR has you covered as we take a look at everything from offense, defense and special teams to coaching and intangibles and we let you know Who Has the Edge!

Wondering where the advantage for each team lies in the Rutgers-Navy matchup this week? Then SOR has you covered. We take a look at everything from offense, defense and special teams to coaching and intangibles as we let you know Who Has the Edge.

Who Has the Edge in the Rutgers-Navy game?



OFFENSE

Navy is a one-trick pony, albeit a very effective one-trick pony that runs over the competition. Do you really need more than one facet when you excel in the first? However, the Midshipmen displayed last year that they had difficulty playing from behind, and the team is poor in the passing game.

In addition to being able to grind out a long drive, Rutgers has quick-strike capability. The likes of Kenny Britt, Ray Rice and Tiquan Underwood can give defenses fits, and the RU offensive line will continue to jell with each contest.

Edge: Rutgers



DEFENSE

Navy is extremely green on the defensive side of the ball, as evidenced by the loss of nine starters from last year's squad. This unit had better come together quickly if it wants to solve Rutgers' attack, and it needs to play better than it did in Week 1 against Temple.

RU is also lacking at certain positions, but veteran leaders like senior defensive tackle Eric Foster and junior safety Courtney Greene form the nucleus of a squad that likes to attack the ball, hit and force turnovers. Rutgers was plus 11 in turnover margin (10th best in the country) last year while Navy was plus 1 (ranked 55th). This season the teams are a combined minus 1 in turnovers.

Edge: Rutgers



SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior Rutgers kicker Jeremy Ito was shaky in his first start of 2007, missing a makeable 40-yard attempt as well as a 56-yarder that was more of a test of his outside range than anything else. He banged home a 38-yard field goal late against Buffalo, and he was flawless on extra points. However, Ito failed to reach the end zone on any kickoff.

RU's kick coverage was good, limiting a dangerous UB return team to fairly short returns.

Navy's kick return game was even stronger against Temple than Rutgers was against Buffalo. Kicker Matt Harmon looked sharp in three made field goals, including a 43-yard attempt to seal the game versus the Owls. However, he lacks the ability to boom kicks deep.

Edge: Navy



COACHING

It's hard to argue with what Paul Johnson has done in Annapolis. He took over a program that was a combined 1-21 the previous two seasons before he arrived and transformed it into a perennial bowl team. The service academies have a limited pool of recruits compared with other Division I-A teams, but Navy is the only one currently translated recruiting into consistent success on the gridiron. Johnson won at Georgia Southern (62-10 record with two national titles), and he continues to win at Navy. Last Friday's victory over Temple was his 100th career win compared with 31 for RU coach Greg Schiano.

Greg Schiano said he wanted to build a solid foundation when he came to Rutgers, and it looks like that's what he is accomplishing on the Banks. The first step was a winning season. The second was a bowl victory. On the horizon are greener pastures still. However, what he has built in his time at Rutgers still does not compare statistically with Paul Johnson's resume. A BCS bowl win would change all that.

Edge: Navy



INTANGIBLES

When the entire Navy brigade marches at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, it is a sight to behold. However, this game is at Rutgers, where the crowd promises to be boisterous in its support for the hometown Scarlet Knights. Plus, new travel restrictions at the Naval Academy mean there won't be many Midshipmen in the crowd.

This is the first of at least four nationally televised Rutgers games this season (this week, Oct. 18 versus USF, at Army Nov. 9 and versus Louisville Nov. 29), and the first home ESPN game since "Pandemonium in Piscataway."

Navy will be looking for revenge after Rutgers completely dismantled the Midshipmen in Annapolis, 34-0, last season. Rutgers added insult to injury by breaking QB Brian Hampton's leg and ending his senior season. Will that be enough to overcome the talent gap?

Edge: Rutgers



RECENT HISTORY

Last year marked the first time Navy had ever been to four straight bowl games. The Midshipmen have compiled a 37-25 record under Johnson, including a 35-15 mark in the past four seasons. Navy already has a spot reserved for it in the Dec. 20 Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, pending bowl eligibility.

Rutgers has put together two straight winning seasons and reached double digit wins last year for the first time since 1976. The Scarlet Knights have been to two consecutive bowl games and emerged with the school's first-ever bowl victory last year.

Edge: Navy

 

OVERALL

Both of these programs hope the bad times become a distant memory while continuing to develop perennial bowl teams. Navy has put together a great streak, and this year's senior class needs seven more wins to become the winningest class in Navy history. But expectations are different at each institution. Rutgers wants to take the next step while Navy seems content carving out a spot among college teams ranked in the 26-50 range.

Greg Schiano has made its known that he wants to win a national title at Rutgers. Going to the Texas Bowl is not enough; it's the BCS that RU craves. As a result, the Scarlet Knights have started pulling in the top talent in the nation (see Anthony Davis). On that note, Rutgers has a Heisman Trophy candidate in Ray Rice a year after touting Brian Leonard early on as a contender. The last time Navy had anyone it could market for the Heisman was QB Chris McCoy in 1997.

Navy is already locked in to the Poinsettia Bowl, a lower tier postseason event that is sure to draw plenty of San Diego sailors to the game but is not the same as a BCS bid. That's fine for the Midshipmen, but it also speaks to their ability to reach the next level, given all the recruiting restrictions at service academies.

 It's a matter of expectations and objectives.

Edge: Rutgers


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