Players to Watch: Rutgers-Pitt

This week presents us with a matchup of two strong coaches who preach a team approach to the game. Greg Schiano of Rutgers (2-5, 1-2 Big East) and Dave Wanndstedt of Pittsburgh (5-1, 2-0) both have National Football League experience and bring that intensity to the college game. However, the players are the ones who make the action happen on the field, so let's take a look at key participants.

PLAYERS TO WATCH (RUTGERS)

QB Dominic Natale
RU's backup junior quarterback generated excitement when he was in the game during a 12-10 win versus Connecticut Oct. 18. Though he did not lead Rutgers to a scoring drive, his mobility and determined running on a fourth-down play to gain a first down helped keep a 10-play, 49-yard drive alive for a 42-yard field goal attempt that went left of the goal post. Natale can run and pass, and he gives Pittsburgh another option to consider when planning against RU's offense.

WR Kenny Britt
Britt is consistent, but he has yet to reach the end zone this season. He leads the team with 46 receptions for 571 yards and has registered three games with at least 100 yards receiving. Opposing teams have game planned to bottle up Britt, yet he has continued to provide quality numbers, but he hasn't had his breakout scoring game this season. Britt has pro size and speed, so that game is coming sooner or later this year.

LB Ryan D'Imperio
He was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after registering 11 tackles and 1 1/2 tackles for loss in the victory against UConn. D'Imperio makes quick reads and is often in the opposing team's backfield this year. He is second on Rutgers with 53 total tackles and is third with 5 1/2 tackles for loss.

QB Mike Teel
RU's fifth-year senior has been the focus of much criticism this season after starting the year with two touchdowns to seven interceptions. However, he has improved passing the ball in recent weeks and has not turned the ball over in three Big East games. Teel has completed just 55.6 percent of his passes, but he has had his share of dropped balls from receivers. If he and his targets click, RU's offense has the potential to get going.


PLAYERS TO WATCH (PITT)

LB Scott McKillop
Once again, Pitt's top linebacker is among the nation's leaders in tackles with a Big East-best 61 total tackles and 9 1/2 tackles for loss. His best game was 12 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss in Pitt's 26-21 victory at South Florida Oct. 2. There doesn't seem to be a limit to his range on the field, and McKillop should factor into many plays against Rutgers.

RB LeSean McCoy
"Shady" had a case of the dropsies and couldn't seem to hold on to the football while running it early in the season, but he has recovered to be one of the conference's best feature backs. McCoy has three consecutive 100-yard games and has scored five touchdowns in the last two Pitt contests. Against Navy last week, he rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.

DEs Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus
This pair of sophomore pass rushers really gets after it. Sheard and Romeus have combined for 42 total tackles, seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Sheard forced a fumble against Navy and Romeus has sacked the quarterback in two of Pitt's last three games.

WR Jonathan Baldwin
The freshman wideout has been a key target for quarterback Bill Stull in recent weeks, catching five throws for 160 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks. Baldwin's 52-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter at USF helped turn momentum in Pitt's favor and sparked a run of 17 unanswered Panthers points.


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