Notebook: Dealing with Pitt's pressure

Handling Pittsburgh's defensive pressure is one of the keys for Rutgers heading into Friday's game against the Panthers, and Scarlet Knights quarterback Tom Savages says what he needs to do. Also, Rutgers defensive tackle Charlie Noonan discusses the type of offensive team the Panthers will bring to Piscataway.

Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage may see a new wrinkle or three from Pittsburgh's defense -- perhaps an odd blitz once in a while -- but the Panthers are a straight forward defense.

And that is the good and bad news for a suspect Rutgers offensive line, and its true freshman quarterback Savage.

The Panthers are third in the nation in sacks, averaging 4.17 per game, and are led by defensive end Greg Romeus. He has seven, and the Panthers are getting to the quarterback in a straightforward manner.

"They really do it effectively with four-man pressure,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "(Blitzing) isn't who they are. They're more of a four-man down team.''

While Savage, and the coaching staff, will be on the lookout for anything different the Panthers may add for this game, it is not like preparing for a blitz-crazy scheme where pressure can come from anywhere.

"It's pretty much straight forward, but like I said, every team is going to change a scheme up,'' Savage said. "They run a lot of basic coverage.''

It puts the onus, more so than ever, on Rutgers' offensive line to protect. The Scarlet Knights are allowing 2.8 sacks per game, which ties for 100 th in the nation.

But Savage said not all the blame is on his offensive line.

"I (need to) get rid of the ball quicker,'' Savage said. "I need to make my progressions. I make it kind of tough on the offensive line because I hold the ball a little long. I need to work on that, not move around and scrambling all the time.

"I'm making it difficult on them by moving around. I just have to stay calm back there.''

Stopping the run
Just like Pittsburgh's defense, the offense is pretty meat-and-potatoes as well.

"They come down hill really, really hard,'' Rutgers defensive tackle Charlie Noonan said. "They're pretty big. They're a good, experienced front. They want you to know they're going to run the ball, and that's their philosophy. It's the (same as the) training camp runs we had. It's the same as we do. ''

The Panthers are averaging 166.5 rushing yards per game, led by freshman Dion Lewis. He is averaging 123 yards per game.

Familiar look
Scarlet Knights left tackle Anthony Davis and Noonan both said Rutgers and Pittsburgh are mirror images in style.

"They're a lot like us,'' Noonan said." They're a tough group. Why we've had success? I think it comes down to who executes better, but they're a lot like us.''

So why has Rutgers won last four meetings?

"I don't know what they're doing over there. We stick to ourselves,'' Noonan said.

Said Davis: "It's a secret.''


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