Brooks absolutely exploded at running back after getting just three touches behind Joe Martinek by running for 124 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in RU's trampling of FCS cellar-dweller Howard 45-7 at Rutgers Stadium.
"It definitely helped to get a win today so we can move on from last week's tough loss," Brooks said. "We worked on a lot of things this week to get better. And what helps so much is that all of us have such a great attitude. When you have a team that's on the same page, you can do anything. And I feel we will have a very good season."
The strong day on the ground by the Germantown, Md. native certainly helped ease in an extremely nervous Tom Savage into his first career start at the quarterback spot for Rutgers.
Savage, who played in the second half against Cincinnati last week, did not disappoint. The tone of the day on offense was big plays and Savage set that tone early when he found senior wide receiver Tim Brown for a 49-yard strike that culminated in Brooks' first touchdown run.
Savage connected with Brown one more time — this time for a 68-yard touchdown — and finished the day with 223 yards and two touchdowns on 8-of-13 passing.
"Tom was very solid," Schiano said. "I thought he managed the game well. I still have to watch the tape but I thought he was able to keep his composure and play effectively."
Savage said that he felt happy to get the win, but is ready to go for another one against Florida International Saturday. The game against FIU marks the third in 12 days for RU.
"While it feels awesome to get the win, it's now time to focus on our next game against Florida International," Savage said. "There are still many things for us to work on. I felt the communication with our offense definitely improved. The receivers we have on this team are great targets to throw to. But I'm just trying to get used to everything. There are certain aspects I will have to work on, such as learning to throw the ball away quicker. I'll watch the game film and key on what I need to do."
Savage's other long pass, however, went to a much less expected target.
After battling for the starting quarterback job, redshirt freshman D.C. Jefferson converted to tight end at the close of training camp and, against Howard, earned his first career start at the position. At the position, he pulled in just one catch, but it went for 46 yards and set up a short touchdown pass to fullback Jack Corcoran.
"It should give him confidence," Schiano said. "He's in the position, he was wide open and you have to make the play. I've seen a lot of wide open drop the pass or stumble but he was able to make the play. I'm sure the next one will be better. He'll catch it in stride and run it the whole length of the field. It's a great way for him to get started. He's a guy that really has a large upside and we need to accelerate him. He's big and strong and when he learns how to use that and it becomes instinctual to him he can be a very good tight end."
Defensively, Rutgers improved significantly from last week, allowing just seven points and 264 yards of offense. The standout on defense was Jonathan Freeny who made two sacks and forced a fumble, to be recovered by Charlie Noonan.
One thing the team focused on was tackling, something that improved from last week.
"The one thing you notice in a wet game, when it rains during the game, tackling can be suspect because the jerseys get wet and a lot guys wear gloves and things," Schiano said. "I was pleased with the tackling because I knew it was wet and I knew guys were slipping through but it was better. We didn't have a lot of chance to work on tackling, we had one day of padded practice and that was in shorts so we didn't take anybody to the ground so the reality, it was just thud tackling in practice. I think the improvement was more here than actually physically doing it."
Today marked the debut of a series of true freshmen. Wide receiver Mark Harrison, linebacker Ka'lial Glaud and safety Duron Harmon all saw the field for the first time, but the most impressive of the freshmen was running back De'Antwan Williams who ran for 89 yards in mop-up time.
"It was just a relief getting in the game," Williams said. "I just ran hard and did what I knew how to do."
Knights Register 1st Win
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