Scouting Report: After horrible home losses to Villanova 37-19 and Buffalo 34-11 (and you thought Tennessee had problems) the Scarlet Knights rebounded to annihilate Army 44-0 and played Pittsburgh tough on the road before falling 23-3. Although only 2-9 last season, Rutgers is on the rise behind the NCAA¹s youngest head coach Greg Schiano, 36, a Jersey native who was hired off Miami¹s staff two years ago. Schiano came in with the intention of keeping New Jersey talent in state and he has been successful. In 2001 he put together a top 50 recruiting class and followed that with a top 30 class last season. He didn¹t have to search far to find a starting quarterback as Ryan Cubit, 6-3, 195, the son of Rutgers offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bill Cubit, earned the job as a true freshman. But as a sophomore he has given way to senior Ted Trump (6-2, 215) who has completed 50-of-106 passes for 527 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Cubit still sees playing time in the Scarlet Knights multiple attack. Rutgers hasn¹t assembled the talent in the offensive line to be competitive against good teams to this point and that¹s reflected in its rushing totals. The Scarlet Knights are averaging just 76.5 yards per game on the ground. True freshman Markis Facyson is their leading rusher with 57 yards per game and he had a career high 129 yards vs. Army. Rutgers averages only 263 yards per contest in total offense. However the Knights are stronger on defense holding opponents to 365.5 yards total per game with only 138.5 coming on the ground. They should pose a test for Tennessee¹s surprisingly anemic rushing attack which ranks 10th in the SEC. One of Rutgers top defensive players is Shawn Seabroooks who originally signed with Tennessee before transferring back to his home state after his freshman year. Seabrooks, who plays free safety, intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown against Army. Although the Knights have been sound against the run and solid in the secondary, their D-line has only managed two sacks in four games which means Clausen should have time to find open receivers.
Summary: An angry Tennessee team could make this non-conference contest ugly, but the more pressing objective for the Vols is finding some rhythm and consistency on offense. UT¹s coaching staff also hopes to get a look at true freshmen James Banks, Jonathan Wade and Chris Hannon at receiver as well as Gerald Riggs Jr., at tailback. Antwan Stewart is another raw rookie who could work his way into the cornerback rotation with a good showing against the Knights. Eliminating mistakes, establishing a dominating ground game, improving red-zone efficiency and shoring up a suddenly suspect kicking game are also on Tennessee¹s to-do list.
Prediction: Tennessee 51, Rutgers 3