With Schiano gone, the Flood era begins at Rutgers
Before leaving to become coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Greg
Schiano took Rutgers from the basement of the Big East to a program
that played in bowls in six of his final seven seasons.
Thanks to that table setting, the Kyle Flood era will begin in
two weeks with some promise. In fact, this might just be the
Scarlet Knights’ best chance to win the conference crown and
qualify for the Bowl Championship Series for the first time.
While this team doesn’t have a Ray Rice to lead them, Rutgers
returns 16 starters from a team that exceeded expectations with a
9-4 record and a fourth-place conference finish, capped by a win in
the Pinstripe Bowl.
Picked to finish third in the preseason poll behind Louisville
and South Florida, Rutgers is looking for more.
”My freshman year in 2009, I thought we had a very talented
team that underachieved,” senior safety Duron Harmon said. ”This
year, the talent across the board that we have is amazing. You
don’t see this type of talent every day. I think we can compete
with anyone in the country. We know what’s out there for us if we
play to our potential.”
Rutgers showed last year it could play with Louisville and South
Florida. The Knights lost, 16-14, to the Cardinals on the road, and
defeated South Florida, 20-17, at home.
And what’s more intriguing for the Scarlet Knights, is they
don’t have to face nemesis West Virginia anymore. A traditional
thorn in Rutgers’ side, the Mountaineers left for the Big 12, and
were replaced by Temple.
Winning the league next year will be tougher with new teams
coming in, although Syracuse and Pittsburgh will exit for the
Clearly, now’s the time.
”Football coaches, we can only live in reality,” Flood said.
”We can’t live in speculation. We know that the Big East champion,
in 2012, goes to the Orange Bowl. Unless they’re in the BCS
national championship game, which would be great. So for us, that’s
what we’re focused on. Because a year from now, there certainly
could be more changes.
”So we’re not thinking about that. Right now, we are focused on
2012 and everything else gets pushed aside until you’re done with
your bowl game.”
The Scarlet Knights have some obvious questions heading into a
season that opens at Tulane Sept. 1. It starts at quarterback.
Sophomore Gary Nova and junior Chas Dodd split the starting job
last season and they are competing again.
Flood wants to name his starter next week to give the winner a
chance to take control of an offense that is loaded at running back
and wide receiver. The offensive line lost three starters, but the
new group should be as good as last year, if not better.
Dave Brock has been handed the job of running the offense, the
team’s third coordinator in as many seasons. He believes in running
a balanced offense and is keeping the pro-style scheme that was a
fixture in Schiano’s tenure. He also did not change the
terminology. It was easier for him to learn the old one rather than
have 50 or so players learn a new one.
And Brock has no doubts that his starting quarterback will do a
”Both kids have won,” he said. ”Maybe the most valuable
commodity these kids have is experience now. Everybody wants to
win. Everybody wants to do well every week. But very few people
want to acknowledge how hard it is to play against highly
competitive opponents as a true freshman. It is. What no one talks
about, and it’s hard for me to understand why, is they won nine
games with basically a two-quarterback system where both those
quarterbacks were basically first-year players.
”Find somebody else in the country that did that.”
The running game has Jawan Jamison, Savon Huggins and Jeremy
Deering, while the receiving corps of Brandon Coleman, Mark
Harrison, Quron Pratt and Tim Wright is deep.
The offensive line will benefit having former Maryland starter
R.J. Dill move into the job at right tackle as a graduate student.
Kaleb Johnson will be the other tackle, while Betim Bujari is the
center and Antwan Lowery is the left guard. Andre Civil and Taj
Alexander are battling for the other guard spot. Tight end is
coming down to a battle between D.J. Jefferson and Paul
The question mark on defense is the line, although it has
potential. The back seven are very good, with the secondary
considered one of the best in the league and possibly the
”I’m just looking forward to us playing the best football we’ve
ever played around here and doing some things around here that we
haven’t ever done before on both sides of the ball,” said senior
linebacker Khaseem Greene, the conference’s defensive player of the
year in 2011.
”The offense, they’ve got guys over there who can do a lot of
real good things when they’ve got the ball in their hands. On
defense, we’ve got some very explosive guys.”
Scott Vallone will move over to play a three-gap tackle while
Isaac Holmes moves into the nose tackle spot. Senior Ka’Lial Glaud
will probably play one of the end spots with Jamil Merrell or
Marcus Thompson at the other. Also, expect true freshman Darius
Hamilton, the son of former Giants defensive tackle Keith Hamilton,
to see a lot of action.
The linebackers all return with Greene on the weakside, Steve
Beauharnais, the middle linebacker who is underrated, and Jamal
Merrell on the strongside.
Logan Ryan will start at one corner while Brandon Jones and
Marcus Cooper vie for the other. Harmon will play one safety spot,
while Lorenzo Waters appears to have the other job.
”The sky is the limit for this defense, truly,” Ryan said.
”There is no reason we can’t be the best defense in the country.
We have no excuses and we expect to be. That’s where we want to be.
We will see when the games start coming around, but I know we’re
going to practice every single day like it’s the Big East
Senior Justin Doerner returns as the punter while true freshman
Kyle Federico is being asked to replace San San Te as the