Oct 11, Noon
Last Week: Miami
Returning Starters: 12
Last Week: Virginia Tech
Returning Starters: 14
Last Meeting: 2002
MEN OF EXPERIENCE
Looking for a reason to explain Rutgers' rise to respectability so far in 2003? Sure, the schedule may have something to do with it, but remember that the Scarlet Knights have been losing to teams like Army in seasons past.
Look no further than the offensive line, which has more greybeards than the Confederate Army in 1865. Of the top 12 players along the OLine, Rutgers has four seniors and six juniors. The starters are three seniors and two juniors.
That lineup has paved the way for a good rushing attack and given quarterback Ryan Hart time to execute in the passing game, and as a result Rutgers' offensive production has increased dramatically.
Although the Rutgers defense hasn't been putting up great numbers, they have been opportunistic. The Scarlet Knights have scored one non-offensive touchdown in each of their five games this year. The tallies came via two interception returns, a punt return, a fumble return and a blocked field goal return.
West Virginia's depth at superback is well-known to Mountaineer fans, but Rutgers may have a chart that is every bit as deep. The Scarlet Knights have six players on their roster that have rushed for more than 100 yards in at least one game.
Another oddity is that their highest-regarded recruit at that position has been shoved from the limelight a bit. Markis Facyson, who was an outstnading high school player, broke his hand in preseason and has only recently returned to the field. However, he's finding it difficult to make headway against the talented trio in front of him.
Rutgers has already rushed for more yards this year (734), than they did all of last year (620). Of course, a good bit of 2002's embarrasingly low total was due to 625 yards of rushing losses, of which 355 were sacks. However, that's still a wakeup call for those that think this game is going to be a walkover for WVU.
SPOT THE BALL
Rutgers has fumbled 11 times this year, but have lost only two. Conversely, nine of ten opponent fumbles have been recovered by the Scarlet Knights.
Defensively, West Virginia has forced 20 fumbles this season, but has managed to recover only 10.
The Mountaineer defense has, for the most part, done an excellent job of keeping opponents out of the end zone when they move into scoring position. That could be a factor in Saturday's game due to Rutgers' placekicking woes. The Scarlet Knights have employed three kickers this year, but have missed six field goals and two extra points. Rutgers kickers have made but two three pointers, with the longest being 36 yards.