Former Player Perspective:Steve Tardy - Cincy

As a feature, SOR has asked a number of former players to provide their written commentary on each of the Rutgers games. This commentary is meant to give the readers of SOR a view of the game from a former player's perspective. This week's perspective is from former Rutgers and Hall of Fame member Steve Tardy.

The writer played offensive line for the Scarlet Knights from 1985 to 1989. He participated in notable victories against Boston College, Army, Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, Northwestern, Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State and Penn State. He was a two-time recipient of both the Bender Trophy and Upstream Award, which are given annually to the team's top offensive lineman and scholar-athlete, respectfully. He was honored by the National Football Foundation in 1989 as one of its eleven Scholar-Athlete Award recipients and was inducted in the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame in October 2001.

The writer received a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from the Rutgers College of Engineering in the Spring of 1990 and received a Master's Degree in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992. He serves and Senior Vice President for French and Parrello Associates in Wall, New Jersey, where he works as a consulting engineer. Additionally, the writer serves as an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University, where he annually teaches a graduate level engineering course during the fall semester. The writer resides in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Game Overview:

On a night better suited for a Beach Party than a Football Game, the Sell-Out Crowd at Rutgers Stadium saw a tough-fought contest not decided until the closing moments. The game was much anticipated as this yearly contest often produces unpredictable outcomes, and after last-year's upset lose left somewhat bitter feelings among the Scarlet Faithful. Cincinnati was a well respected opponent and has been on a well-documented rise within the national scene. Cincinnati ultimately won the game 28-23.

The opening half saw Rutgers take an opportunistic, 10-point lead highlighted by a Devin McCourty interception returned 36-yards for a touchdown. Although the two-possession half-time lead was comforting, neither of the teams dominated play in the first-half and the game's outcome was certainly in-doubt at intermission.

The second half saw Cincinnati capitalize on Rutgers miscues that contributed to a 21-point offensive surge in the third quarter and also included a game-saving interception in the closing minutes of the game. The key turning points in the game included:

? Rutgers' opening drive in the second half was stalled by an interception on the 5th play. This prevented Rutgers from extending its 10-point lead. Cincinnati capitalized on this miscue by scoring a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

? Late in the third quarter, Cincinnati scored a touchdown after a 9 play drive. On Rutgers subsequent drive, Mike Teel was intercepted on the first play. Cincinnati then scored on the next play from scrimmage with a 27-yard touchdown pass. Of the 28-points scored by Cincinnati in the game, 14-points came during this 19 second span in the third quarter.

? Rutgers continued to fight only to have its potential game saving drive end with another Cincinnati interception. The ball was turned over on the Cincinnati 19 yard line, with 1 minute and 24 seconds to play.

Highlights for Rutgers included 334 yards passing by Mike Teel, with notable receptions by Brown, Britt and Underwood. Recently returning from a hand injury, Brown emerged from the game as another dangerous Scarlet Knight receiver. Ray Rice rushed for a solid 94 yard.

Season Outlook:

The disappointment felt over the past 8 days has certainly caused some to question the stature of this year's team. However, it is my opinion that this team is as good as last year's team and that the program continues to make progress in the right direction. The players have played hard and the coaching has been sound. This year's team is undoubtedly different, but no less talented.

It is true that all 42,000 Rutgers fans at Saturday's game would gladly petition the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility for Leonard, Meekins, Thompson and Radigan. The fond memories of their spirited performances are certainly still fresh in the minds of the Scarlet Faithful and their talents are missed. However, this season will bring new highlights, new memories and new stars.

I prefer not to offer any predictions on this year's record. From my prospective, the Syracuse Game is the only game that matters. I believe the team will come back with further resolve and will play hard. I will note that winning is never easy. Everyone wants to win, and Syracuse will come to play. I foresee Rutgers trying to reestablish a dominate running game to compliment its passing game, and perhaps becoming a bit more aggressive with defensive play calling. Rutgers 31, Syracuse 17.

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