Noonan Geared Up For First Start

For defensive tackle Charlie Noonan, his anticipation of kickoff Monday is almost too much to put into words. Between another season opener, his first career, start, his first game in a newly renovated Rutgers Stadium and a game against Big East Champion Cincinnati, there's a lot going through his mind.

It's exciting. It really is. It's exciting," Noonan said on the transition from training camp to practice for Cincinnati. "It's a lot more honed in now. By the end of training camp, you're hitting each other and you know their offense so well that it's good to move into watching more film and getting ready for the game."

Noonan, who had just nine tackles in a reserve role last season, earned one of the two open starting jobs at defensive tackle this spring, where he was honored with the Most Improved Defensive Player Award.

Although the battle for the other spot between Blair Bines and Scott Vallone is still ongoing, Noonan feels good about the look of the line going into week one.

"I feel that we've all just gotten better by leaps and bounds as a whole," Noonan said. "We have to get better at swarming to the ball. That's every day you practice. We're also just working on all of the stuff. We're working on all the little things. You zone in more on Cincinnati as a team and what their line does."

Since breaking camp and going into game made, Noonan said that the defensive line has spent a lot more time in the film room, researching the Cincinnati offensive line.

"What makes them tough is that they run laterally a lot and do runs from the [shotgun]," Noonan said on the Cincy offensive line. "They don't really have a defined style. It's not like a prostyle, but it's not under center all of the time. It's a little bit different than a normal prostyle offense."

The other hurdle for the defensive line is Bearcat starting quarterback Tony Pike. Pike, who threw for 2,407 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, has emerged as the top quarterback in the Big East with the departures of Hunter Cantwell, Mike Teel and Pat White and Noonan sees him as such.

"He's a player you know," he said. "He throws a good ball and he's always looking down field. We didn't get to see him list year, but from what we've seen on film, he's a player.

Noonan said that the fact that the opener comes against a team like Cincinnati makes things even better. Cincinnati beat Rutgers to end the Scarlet Knights' undefeated season in 2006 and took them down two more times in 2007 and 2008. If Rutgers had beaten Cincy last season, RU would have been the Big East champions, but they fell 13-10 at Nippert Stadium.

"The Big East is such a tight conference that every game is just so important," Noonan said. "They've had our number the last couple of years, even in 2006 when I was a redshirt. I wouldn't call it a rivalry, but I don't know what it is."

And as for the new seats in Rutgers Stadium, Noonan is just as pumped as the rest of the Rutgers community.

"It's going to be awesome. With it all closed in, it's going to be rocking," he said. "With school starting, everybody's going to be here. It's going to be cool and it will definitely help us out. It's an advantage with more people. It's louder for Cincinnati's offense. It's always been loud, but with that closed it, it's going to be crazy.

"It's so exciting. I've waiting so long for this. Camp was long, but man that's so behind us too. … It's Cincy week. It's finally here."

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