What can be expected from RU Offense in 2008

TORONTO. The bar has been set high for next year. Rutgers (8-5) polished off a record-setting 2007 offensive campaign with its highest yardage output of the season during a 52-30 rout of Ball State (7-6) in the International Bowl at Rogers Centre Jan. 5. The Scarlet Knights finished the season with a plethora of team and individual records at the school and conference level.

"It was important to send this the right way into the offseason," said redshirt junior quarterback Mike Teel after leading his team to victory against the Cardinals.


TEAM RECORDS

Here are some of the school offensive records that RU set as a team this season:

Points in a season (429, surpassing 387 scored by the 2006 squad). It was the first time the Scarlet Knights went over 400 points as a team in school history. This year's team was the eighth in school history to score at least 300 points.

Total offense in a season (5,841). That mark shatters the record set by last year's team that went 11-2 and rang up 4,765 yards. It was the first time in school history that Rutgers went over the 5,000-yard plateau.

Most total yards in a game (595 in the International Bowl). In fact, four of RU's performances this season are in the top 5 all-time for the school. The Scarlet Knights topped the 500-yard mark on five occasions.

Despite all those outstanding statistical achievements, Rutgers stumbled and looked lost at times this season. RU was ranked as high as No. 10 before losing back-to-back games in late September and early October, and the Scarlet Knights lost back-to-back games in late October and early November.

"I really believe this season gave the football team a chance to learn how (to fight through adversity)," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't, but we had those experiences to call on for next year and moving forward."


INDIVIDUAL RECORDS

Let's remove Ray Rice from the equation, as it is unknown whether he will return next year. The passing game returns key players at skill positions and features receivers who emerged as legitimate threats.

Receiving yards (1,232 by Kenny Britt). Britt, a true sophomore, was one of two receivers to reach at least 1,000 yards, joining redshirt junior Tiquan Underwood as the first pair of receivers in Rutgers history to go over the 1,000-yard mark in the same season. Underwood also passed the previous record set by Tres Moses, finishing with 1,100 yards.

Receiving yards in a game (248 by Underwood vs. Buffalo Aug. 30). Underwood made an emphatic statement in the season opener versus the Bulls that he was back from a broken leg and ready to make an impact.

Yards passing in a season (3,147 by Mike Teel). The redshirt junior battled through injuries but still put together six 300-yard performances this season, topped off by a 303-yard outing against Ball State in the International Bowl.

What does this all mean? Raised expectations for the Rutgers passing game in 2008.

"We're going to try to build and get better," said Underwood. "This year, playing together gave us more experience for next year."

Underwood and Britt have developed a relationship that lifts both players to higher levels. The garrulous Underwood said that the two have a friendly competition about who can catch more passes and make more plays for Rutgers.

"We definitely push each other," he said.

Britt, who was a standout at Bayonne High School and a huge recruit for Rutgers in 2006, wants to represent his state university well.

"There's that Jersey pride that we bring to the game," said Britt.

And what about those team expectations heading into 2008?

"Coming into every year, we want to win the national championship," said Underwood.


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