Reviewing the season

Before the excitement builds for the 2010 season,ScarletReport.com wanted to look back at some of the biggest and best plays, players and moments from the 2009 season. Who was the Scarlet Knights' best player? How about the best play? Or the weirdest play? ScarletReport.com has those picks, plus plenty more as we look back for a final time on the 2009 season.

Before the excitement builds for the 2010 season, which means before signing day and spring practice, ScarletReport.com wanted to look back at some of the biggest and best plays, players and moments from the 2009 season.

Best player
Cornerback Devin McCourty. If Rutgers had an 11- or 12-win season, McCourty would have been named to a few all-America teams. As it was, he finished second on the Scarlet Knights with 80 tackles, and also broke up 10 passes.

He only had one interception, but that was because teams didn't throw in his direction.

McCourty also improved his draft stock more than any other Scarlet Knight.

Most important player
Receiver Tim Brown. He led the team with 55 catches for 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns, and did it despite playing with a badly sprained ankle in the final three games.

Brown gave Rutgers a downfield threat, and he took the pressure off the rest of the receiving corps and gave freshman quarterback Tom Savage a security blanket to throw to.

Biggest surprise
Quarterback Tom Savage. He wasn't brilliant, but that is almost impossible for a true freshman. He won eight games, showed remarkable poise, learned how to move in the pocket and displayed tremendous leadership.

Savage completed 149 of 285 (52.3 percent) for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He limited his turnovers, which is why Rutgers won nine games.

Best freshman
Receiver Mohamed Sanu made his presence felt in the running game and the passing game. He served as a wonderful complement to Tim Brown, and gave quarterback Tom Savage a second option in the passing game.

He caught 61 passes for 639 yards and three touchdowns, and also became the most consistent rusher as he ran the Wildcat package. Sanu ran 62 times for 346 yards and five scores as he accounted for much of the running game in the final third of the season.

Biggest play
Could it be anything other than Tim Brown's 81-yard catch and sprint in the final seconds at Connecticut? Not only did it give Rutgers a much-needed win, but gave Brown much to smile about as he played in tribute to slain friend and UConn defensive back Jasper Howard.

Weirdest play
It came during Rutgers' best win, a 31-0 blowout of South Florida. Antwan Lowery grabbed USF quarterback B.J. Daniels near midfield and drove him back 10 yards, 20 yards and so on until Daniels finally went down near his own 20-yard line, 42 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Lowery was credited with a 17-yard sack as the refs signaled the play dead, although no one on the field heard the whistle.

What happened to …
Jourdan Brooks was in contention to become the lead running back, and early in the season appeared ahead of Joe Martinek. However, Brooks wound up carrying just 60 times, and was rarely seen on the field in the second half of the season.

Biggest disappointment
This was a tough call, from the blowout to Cincinnati to start the season, to losing to West Virginia for a 15th straight time, but the 31-13 loss at Syracuse is the pick. Rutgers was coming off its best game of the season, the domination of USF, and were poised to make a run at a big-time bowl.

Instead, the Scarlet Knights were never in the game against a team whose bowl hopes were gone.

Player ready for breakout 2010 season
Freshman linebacker Steve Beauharnais. As the season progressed, so did his responsibility. He finished with 36 tackles and five sacks, and brings great speed to the linebacking corps. He is always around the ball, and is already a proven blitzer.

Rutgers has had a series of linebackers start for three and four seasons, and Beauharnais will keep that tradition going.

Who left the biggest shoes to fill Cornerback Devin McCourty's graduation is big, but Rutgers has a lot of talent in the secondary. But when quarterback Tom Savage takes snaps next season, his blind side won't be protected by Anthony Davis, who made it easy for Savage to get comfortable in the pocket.

Upon further review …
Rutgers' 9-4 mark was about the best that could be expected given the on-field talent, and the lack of experience in certain key areas.

Getting nine wins while starting a freshman quarterback in 11 games is quite an accomplishment, but think how much better he would be if a running game existed.

The Scarlet Knights' defense was sensational, provided you could throw out four quarters. What Cincinnati did to Rutgers' defense in the first half of the season opener gave the impression it was going to be a long season, and the confusion the Bearcats elicited showed up again in the first half against Syracuse.

Other than those two halves, the defense was opportunistic, and gave the offense the ball with a chance to win in losses to Pittsburgh and West Virginia.


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