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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
It's a matter of
expectations and objectives.