Analysis: Rutgers dominates in every aspect

It was, by far, Rutgers' best performance of the season. The Scarlet Knights defense dominated South Florida in every aspect of the 31-0 win at Rutgers Stadium to become bowl eligible. The defensive game plan was brilliant, and brilliantly executed, and breaks down what Rutgers did to frustrated South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels.

The defensive game plan was smart and executed brilliantly, the offensive line played well, running back Joe Martinek ran with fervor and Rutgers' freshmen showed why this team should win a Big East championship in the coming years.

Rutgers' 31-0 win against No. 23 South Florida was dominating in every facet, from coaching to defense, from offense to special teams.

The Scarlet Knights (7-2, 2-2 Big East) are bowl eligible for a fifth consecutive season, and the discussion about it has to start with a defense that looked incredibly fast, tackled magnificently and showed it can handle speed.

Rutgers ability to confuse Bulls red-shirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels began with the first play when the Scarlet Knights opened with freshman linebacker Steve Beauharnais and red-shirt freshman cornerback Brandon Jones on the field.

The idea was to make the run-first Daniels a thrower by spying him with two players. The responsibility fell to linebackers Damaso Munoz and Beauharnais. Each was responsible for half of the field, meaning they always had the angle to cut Daniels off if he left the pocket to run.

Daniels was confused from the outset, calling a timeout before South Florida's fourth play from scrimmage when he saw an unfamiliar defensive alignment. He was intercepted on the next play.

Munoz and Beauharnais acted as spies while a disciplined defensive line remained in its rushing lanes to keep the field balanced, and not allow Daniels to get into open space and use his elusiveness and speed.

There were times the Scarlet Knights were content to sit in coverage while the defensive line, which used plenty of stunts, kept a pocket around Daniels until he became uneasy.

Sometimes the Scarlet Knights brought pressure via the blitz, brining two linebackers and a safety to overwhelm an ill-equipped offensive line.

On an early third down, Rutgers blitzed Munoz, Beauharnais and safety Joe Lefeged. Later in the game, safety Khaseem Greene joined the blitz package with the linebackers.

The idea was to make Daniels throw the ball, and the play of Rutgers' secondary gave him very few open receivers to throw to. Without leading receiver Carlton Mitchell (ankle), South Florida's receiver set had trouble finding open space.

A frustrated Daniels had miscommunication problems with his receivers, especially in the second quarter when he thought A.J. Love was going to continue deep into the end zone. Instead, Greene intercepted a pass that wasn't within 10 yards of a Bulls receiver.

Daniels was sacked six times, and only got loose to run twice, but the Scarlet Knights were able to close quickly on him. He finished with 11 yards on 16 attempts, and completed a paltry 7 of 17 for 129 yards and two interceptions.

Offensively, it wasn't flashy, but it never has been this season as the goal continues to be to bring true freshman quarterback Tom Savage along slowly.

Rutgers began the day with creative play-calling on the first drive. The Scarlet Knights used the "Wildcat'' formation with freshman receiver Mohamed Sanu, and also rolled Savage out as he turned up field for an 11-yard gain.

There was also a nice change of pace to the running game with a pair of runs by Kordell Young netting 11 yards on a drive capped by Sanu's 25-yard touchdown reception. With extra attention being paid to receiver Tim Brown, Sanu showed a strong pass-catching ability (5 receptions, 105 yards) and also sharp route-running skills.

Of course, Young's second quarter knee injury ended the opportunity to use him more, and put the reliance of the running game on Martinek.

Rutgers' running game didn't begin to control the game until the second half, but Martinek had some running room in the first 30 minutes and demonstrated his tremendous balance in the first quarter when he hurdled offensive lineman Desmond Wynn before battling for a first down.

Savage was 15 of 30 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and he made some poised and veteran-type throws. He threw to an open spot in a zone to connect with Keith Stroud on third down late in the third quarter, and also recognized man-to-man coverage on Brown for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

The offensive line, and Martinek, wore down South Florida's defense. As the game wore on, Martinek wasn't getting hit until he was a few yards past the line of scrimmage. On his 37-yard touchdown run around the left side in the fourth quarter, tight end D.C. Jefferson had the decisive block, staying on the defender until Martinek could get around the edge.

The Scarlet Knights also dominated special teams. The only glitch was Teddy Dellaganna mis-handling a snap in the first quarter, but that was overlooked by a blocked punt, a recovered fumble forced by Devin McCourty on a South Florida punt return and three San San Te field goals.

Even Rutgers kickoff coverage was exemplary, highlighted by Eric LeGrand's sharp hit on Dontavia Bogan in the fourth quarter.

Scarlet Report Top Stories