Gameday notes: A strong 4th, Brown's records

No. 25 Rutgers travels to Syracuse today, and the running game will be important. It's been criticized often this season, but the Scarlet Knights have been running the ball with great success in the fourth quarter, led by Joe Martinek. Also, Rutgers receiver Tim Brown is on the verge of two milestones, and he talks about the meanings of both of those.

The blocking, Rutgers offensive tackle Kevin Haslam insists, is the same. The commitment to running the ball, running back Joe Martinek says, is just as strong.

However, for as much trouble as the Scarlet Knights have running the ball early in the game, they dominate in the fourth quarter, and Martinek is a big reason.

More than 42 percent of Martinek's 729 rushing yards have come in the fourth quarter, and it began when he ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes at Maryland.

Heading into Saturday's game at Syracuse (3:30 p.m.), he is averaging 8.1 yards per carry in the fourth quarter.

"That sounds like a crazy number,'' Martinek said. "That goes to the offensive line, and when we're up, not giving up, and not just saying, ‘All right, let's get this game over with.' They just keep playing and opening up those holes.''

The mystery is why the Scarlet Knights cannot effectively run the ball earlier in games.

"I have no idea what the thing is in the fourth quarter,'' Haslam said. "I guess it's just the mentality of the offense is to keep running, keep running hard, and keep playing all four quarters and eventually it comes out. I can't tell you what key thing it is.

"I don't think we're better blockers in the fourth quarter than in the first quarter. I think it's that we stick to it. I think it's the fact we keep running in the fourth quarter. We don't pass. We just keep hammering, keep hammering.''

Martinek said the Scarlet Knights wear down opponents, but also believes quicker adjustments are needed by the players earlier in games.

"I think our type of play is to hammer the ball, and hit you as hard as we can,'' Martinek said. "But also, we need to (run the ball effectively) earlier in the game, when the defense does something we're not used, to be smart and go back to our basic rules and get the running game going earlier in the game.''

Milestones within reach for Brown
Rutgers senior receiver Tim Brown is on the verge of two significant milestones, although he didn't realize one of them.

Brown tied the school's career touchdown reception mark (17, with Kenny Britt and Chris Brantley) against South Florida, but it took a conversation with coach Greg Schiano before he knew.

"I didn't really know until coach Schiano told me when I brought my family up to talk to him," Brown said.. "He said, ‘You're hanging out with the all-time touchdown leader.' I'm like, ‘Huh?' He's like, ‘Yeah.' Then my brother said ‘No, he's tied coach.'

"I guess he already knew but he didn't tell me."

Brown also is on the verge of becoming the school's fourth 1,000-yard receiver, joining Britt (twice), Tres Moses and Tiquan Underwood. He has 860 yards on 40 catches.

And reaching 1,000 yards would be meaningful for Brown.

"I'd be happy because of all the criticism I got from the beginning of the season,'' he said, "from people not knowing if I could be the go-to guy.''

Rating the balancing acts
Martinek's 37-yard touchdown run was the highlight performance against South Florida, but a pair of other runs showcased his balance.

The first one came late in the first quarter. On third-and-1, Martinek had to jump over an offensive lineman who was pushed into the backfield, then picked up the first down.

And in the fourth quarter, Martinek appeared down near the left sideline, but spun off a tackler on the ground and lunged forward for the first down.

So, which was better?

"I think the one toward the end of the game looked better,'' he said. "I even thought I might have been bottled up a little bit, but then a spun and there was no one there. The first one, the line did a great job. We needed that first down to take some more time off the clock.''

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