Game Preview: WVU-Rutgers

The 6-1 Mountaineers travel to Piscataway looking for their 10th straight victory over the Scarlet Knights.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 25-4-2
Sat 10/30 Noon
Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers Stadium
Record: 6-1
AP Rank: 15
Last Game: SU
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 8
Offense: 8
Click Piscataway forecast
Record: 4-2
AP Rank: NR
Last Game: Pitt
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 7
Offense: 8
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule
First Meeting: 1916
Last Meeting: 2003
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:
WVU 27 - Syracuse 6
Rutgers 31 - Syracuse 41

Injuries:

WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Justin Dziak (Hamstring) Questionable.

Rutgers - Shawn Tucker (Groin) Out, Dondre Asberry (Injuries from car wreck) Out, Manny Collins (Injuries from car wreck) Out, Eddie Grimes (Injuries from car wreck) Out, Bryan Durango (Knee) Doubtful, Brian Duffy (Knee) Questionable, Berkeley Hutchinson (Shoulder) Questionable, Sameeh McDonald (Knee) Questionable, Jeremy Zuttah (Knee) Questionable, Cameron Stephenson (Ankle) Questionable.

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. Rutgers defense

Paul Ferrao, who is in his fourth season as Rutgers' defensive coordinator, mentors a squad that is ranked 73rd nationally in scoring defense, giving up 27.4 point per contest. The Scarlet Knight defense has intercepted eight passes and ranks first nationally with 12 fumble recoveries. If the Mountaineers can protect the football, the offense will be able to post enough points to gets its seventh win of the season.

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Game Info
WVU 6-1, 2-0
RU 4-3, 1-2
Sat 10/30 Noon
Rutgers Stadium
Series: WVU 25-4-2
TV: BE Game of Week
BCS: WVU-18 RU-74
Line: WVU -14.5
Stats & Trends
The most productive unit of the Rutgers defense has been the secondary. Strong safety Jarvis Johnson (5-11, 200), has posted a team best 51 tackles to go with one interception and five pass breakups. In 2003, Johnson lead the team in tackles with 91 and was a first team All-ECAC pick. Joining Johnson at safety will be freshman Ron Girault (5-11, 195). Girault has totaled 29 stops and one interception on the season. The 2003 first team All-State selection in New Jersey has also recorded two pass breakups and a tackle for a loss.

Manning the cornerback positions will be Joe Porter (5-9, 190) and Derrick Roberson (5-10, 170). The sophomore duo have combined for 74 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, four interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Both saw extended time last season as freshman, but will have the hands full with WVU's rangy receivers.

The linebackers are lead in tackles by Devraun Thompson (5-11, 225) with 36 stops. Thompson, a sophomore, has also recorded 6.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. Joining Thompson at linebacker will be Terry Bynes (6-2, 220) and William Beckford (6-1, 222). Bynes and Beckford have combined for 50 tackles, three of them behind the line of scrimmage. Bynes has also showed he has a nose for the football, recovering four fumbles in seven games.

Rutgers' most dominating player on the line of scrimmage has been defensive end Ryan Neill (6-3, 300). Neill has enjoyed an outstanding senior season after sitting out the 2003 season with a knee injury. The All-Big East candidate has recorded 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, six quarterback sacks and one interception. Joining Neill at defensive end will be Val Barnaby (6-5, 260). Barnaby has posted 16 tackles, one sack and an impressive four pass breakups.

Starting at defensive tackle will be Gary Gibson (6-4, 278) and David Harley (6-1, 300). This pair of seniors have combined for 32 stops, eight tackles for a loss and three sacks. Gibson has also excelled at rushing the quarterback, registering a team best 10 quarterback hurries.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 27th in total offense (419.29 yds/game), 5th in rushing offense (263.00 yds/game) and 100th in passing offense (156.29 yds/game).

Rutgers is ranked 81st in total defense (400.86 yds/game), 46th in rushing defense (130.29 yds/game) and 82nd in passing efficiency defense (133.83 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. Rutgers offense

The Scarlet Knight offense has found its passing game this season with signal caller Ryan Hart (6-2, 197) leading the way. Hart ended the 2003 season as Rutgers single season passing leader and hasn't looked back, averaging over 280 yards per game passing this season. However, he has been plagued by the interception bug, which has prompted head coach Greg Schiano to contemplate a change at the QB spot.

So far on the season, Hart has connected on 178 of 290 attempts, including 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The junior has thrown for 1985 yards and has a efficiency rating of 123.12, ranking him 61st in the nation. Don't be surprised to see at least 45 passes from Hart on Saturday.

Hart will be handing the ball off to fullback/tailback Brian Leonard (6-2, 230) and a trio of complementary runners. Leonard, a freshman All-American and Big East freshman of the year last season, gets most of the carries for the Knights. The sophomore is averaging 80 yards on the ground and 49 yards receiving per game. He has also crossed the goal line a total of seven times this season. Leonard will undoubtedly be the focal point of WVU's efforts to stop the Rutgers ground attack, but he also has to be accounted for in the passing game.

In support of Lenoard, Clarence Pittman (5-10, 208), Markis Facyson (5-10, 195) and Justise Hairston (6-1, 210) have combined to gain 132 yards on 82 attempts.

On the receiving end of Hart's passes will be a trio of experienced receivers. Tres Moses (5-10, 196) and Chris Baker (6-5, 210) will start at the wide out position while Clark Harris (6-6, 240) is a serious threat at tight end. Moses and Baker, a converted quarterback, have totaled 74 receptions for 891 yards and three touchdowns. By comparison, the Mountaineers two top pass catchers have combined for 44 receptions for 676 yards. Harris, possibly the Knights most dangerous weapon, averages 15.1 yards on 28 receptions. The junior has totaled 422 yards and three touchdowns on the season.

The Scarlet Knight offensive line has been solid this season, allowing 10 quarterbacks on the season (one sack for every 29 pass attempts). This unit could be the most experienced that the Mountaineers will face, starting four seniors and one sophomore. The seniors are Ron Green (6-6, 302), Brian Duffy (6-5, 295), Ray Pilch (6-3, 260) and John Glass (6-5, 300) with the sophomore being Pedro Sosa (6-5, 288). Pilch, a converted tight end, will start at center while Duffy and Glass will start at guard. Duffy has 16 starts under his belt while Glass has started every game since the beginning of last season. At the tackle positions, Green was a first team junior college All-American in 2002 while Sosa earned First Team All-State honors from the Newark Star Ledger as a high school senior.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 31st in total defense (315.57 yds/game), 37th in rushing defense (120.57 yds/game) and 16th in passing efficiency defense (101.99).

Rutgers is ranked 47th in total offense (381.57 yds/game), 112th in rushing offense (91.00 yds/game) and 8th in passing offense (290.57 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU special teams vs. Rutgers special teams

The Blue and Gold should have a decided edge over the Scarlet Knights on special teams. The Mountaineers look to take advantage of their edge in experience and speed to make a big play in the return game.

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Tailgating
Handling punt return duties for Rutgers will be the pair of Willie Foster (5-10, 165) and Tres Moses (5-10, 198). Foster and Moses have each handled seven returns with Foster averaging 12.1 yards while Moses averages 5.3 yards per return. The duo will also be receiving kickoffs from the Mountaineers. Foster has returned 14 kicks for 269 yards (19.2 yd. average) while Moses has seven touches for 160 yards (22.9 yd. average).

The Knights kicker will be Jeremy Ito (5-11, 180). Ito, who leads the team in scoring with 55 points, has connected on 13-19 field goals and 16-17 extra points. The freshman's longest successful field goal is from 48 yards, but he has also had two attempts blocked.

Joe Radigan (6-5, 220) will handle the punting for Rutgers. Radigan is a two-year starter that connected on a 60-yarder against WVU last season. This season Radigan has averaged 39.2 yards per punt with a long of 63 yards. The junior has placed nine of his 37 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 80th in net punting (34.23 yds/punt), 24th in kick returns (23.26 yds/return) and 11th in punt returns (15.11 yds/return).

Rutgers is ranked 44th in net punting (36.92 yds/punt), 55th in kick returns (20.38 yds/return) and 66th in punt returns (8.60 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Rasheed Marshall

On Defense: Pac Man Jones

Useless Facts:

* Yeah, but..? Its common knowledge that Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in the first collegiate football game in 1869 but did you know that Rutgers lost its next 32 games against Princeton by the combined score of 806-29?

* No bowl for you! Rutgers only bowl appearance was in the 1978 Garden State bowl, where the Knights lost to Arizona State 38-14.

* Frankly Scarlet! If it were up to the RU students, orange would be the official color of the Knights but since an orange flag could not be found when that decision was made, the color scarlet was adopted in 1896.

* Say what? Rutgers was originally known as Queens College, with the athletic teams being referred to as the Queensmen. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

* Really? The last time Rutgers had a winning record in a season where they didn't play a Div I-AA team was 1987 (6-5).

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!

Prediction:

West Virginia is 9-3 when playing at Rutgers since 1980 and has won the last four games at Piscataway. In addition, WVU is 18-6 as a road favorite and Rutgers is 9-37 as a home underdog. If WVU can win the turnover battle not only will the Mountaineers snag their seventh victory, but it could get ugly.

WVU - 38 Rutgers - 20


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