Countdown to Kickoff: Offensive Line

Three-fifths of Rutgers starting offensive line is new from last season, and the two-deep includes three red-shirt freshmen and a true freshman. In ScarletReport.com's last look at the offense in the "Countdown to Kickoff" series, find out the good, the bad and the unknown with the most important unit on that side of the ball. Also, get ScarletReport.com's rating on the "Confidence Meter."

Rutgers' season opener is now within site as Thursday's kickoff (7:30 p.m.) against Norfolk State is only a few days away.

In getting everyone ready, ScarletReport.com is running its "Countdown to Kickoff" series, and today's in-depth position analysis stops on the receivers.

Relevant players: Desmond Stapleton (R-Jr.), Caleb Ruch (R-Jr.), Howard Babieri (Sr.), Desmond Wynn (R-Jr.), Art Forst (Jr.), Devon Watkis (R-So.), Antwan Lowery (R-Fr.), David Osei (R-Fr.), Betim Bujari (Fr.) and Matt McBride (R-Fr.)

The Good: If there is any one person to be a leader of the unit, it's Barbieri. He worked his way up from walk-on to the only offensive captain in 2010, and is the center piece of an offensive line, which will open with LT Stapleton, LG Ruch, C Barbieri, RG Wynn and RT Forst.
Coach Greg Schiano wanted his offensive line to be more physical at the line of scrimmage, and that was accomplished in training camp. Forst is a three-year starter and feels markedly more comfortable on the outside rather than inside, and Stapleton has the size and feet to protect the quarterback's blind side.

There is also excitement with three red-shirt freshmen and a true freshman on the two-deep, and it looks like Bujari is a star in the making at the guard position.

Also, the starting five have versatility, and if injury hits the unit, guys can be moved around to get the best fit.

The Bad: Ya' know those three red-shirt freshmen and true freshmen on the two-deep? Yeah, well, that means the next snap they take will be their first in a college game, so forget a lack of experience, there is no experience. The only second-teamer to take a snap is Watkis, who played in spot duty last season.

The first team is a unit that is re-made, with two starters returning (Forst and Barbieri), but neither playing a position they started at last season. Both were guards, but are not being asked to do different things.

Communication and continuity are keys for success, and that takes time to build.

The Unknown: Can Stapleton protect the quarterback's blind side? Will the Scarlet Knights be physical enough to mount a rushing attack in the Big East? Are Ruch and Wynn ready to play starting roles? And how much can Rutgers rely on the freshmen?

Confidence meter: Scale of 1 to 10: 5


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