Syracuse-Rutgers Preview

Considering the last two meetings between Rutgers and Syracuse

have been decided by three points, having an injured field goal

kicker isn’t exactly encouraging news for Scarlet Knights coach

Kyle Flood.

With Kyle Federico’s services uncertain, remaining undefeated

could be tough for No. 20 Rutgers on Saturday when it hosts the

Orange.

Federico injured his hip on a third-quarter kickoff in last

Saturday’s 19-3 win over Connecticut. He has been ruled out for

kickoffs this week, but Flood is still clinging to hope that

Federico can kick extra points for the Knights (5-0, 2-0 Big East),

who are off to their best start since opening 9-0 in 2006.

Flood doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the kicking department

if Federico can’t go. After he got injured, backup Nick DeLouisa

missed an extra point, which elicited Flood to have some students

try out for the kicker position.

“We tried out a number of guys,” he said. “All hands on

deck.”

Even if Federico, who has converted 6 of 11 field goals, is

unavailable, Flood doesn’t believe he’ll have to attempt two-point

conversions following touchdowns.

“I think we’ll have the ability to kick extra points,” he said.

“I think probably where it has its biggest effect is that area of

the field where you’re trying to decide, are you trying a 50-yard

or 40-yard. You have to figure out what the top end of his range is

and game plan accordingly.”

Field goals have been a crucial part of the series.

The Scarlet Knights won at Syracuse 19-16 in double overtime

last October, and the Orange won 13-10 on a kick with 1:07

remaining in New Jersey in 2010.

In last season’s matchup, quarterback Gary Nova replaced an

ineffective Chas Dodd and rallied Rutgers from a 10-point,

fourth-quarter deficit. Then a freshman, Nova threw for 122 yards

and a TD and became the team’s starting quarterback the following

week.

Nova has 10 touchdowns this season – tying him for the most in

the Big East – yet the defense has been the Knights’ biggest

strength.

Rutgers is fifth in the FBS in scoring defense at 10.8 points,

second against the run with an average of 60.6 yards, and first in

the Big East with 10 interceptions.

The Knights are facing a Syracuse team that has scored two

offensive touchdowns in its last two games. Senior quarterback Ryan

Nassib has three interceptions in those contests, and threw three

picks against Rutgers a year ago.

Despite some offensive concerns, the Orange (2-3, 1-0) are

brimming with confidence after beating Pittsburgh 14-13 last

Friday.

The defense led the way, as Dyshawn Davis returned a fumble 52

yards for a touchdown while Brandon Sharpe finished with six

tackles for loss and four sacks. Syracuse came into the game

allowing an average of 176.3 rushing yards, but held a Pittsburgh

team that entered with an average of 187.5 on the ground to 27

yards on 37 carries.

“It finally felt like we (were) clicking,” defensive tackle Deon

Goggins said. “During the bye week we were working on little things

and it came together.”

The Orange, who haven’t opened with two straight conference wins

since a 5-0 start in 2001, will now turn their attention to slowing

down Jawan Jamison, the Big East’s leading rusher with 601

yards.

Jamison finished with 110 yards on 28 carries last week for his

sixth straight 100-yard game. He needs two more to match Ray Rice’s

school record for consecutive 100-yard performances, set in

2007.

As a freshman last season, Jamison didn’t do much against the

Orange, rushing for 48 yards on 24 attempts.