GEICO SportsNite checks in with Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood and the team’s players, who discuss preparations for playing Navy on Saturday.
Result: The Scarlet Knights lost to the Nittany Lions Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Rutgers’ Big Ten Conference debut.
Need to Know: Rutgers (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) couldn’t overcome QB Gary Nova’s five interceptions. Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg led an 80-yard TD drive late in the fourth quarter. Bill Belton’s 5-yard run with 1:13 left capped the drive for the Nittany Lions (3-0, 1-0). The key play was a 53-yard pass from Hackenberg to Geno Lewis. Nova threw his final interception on Rutgers’ next possession. .. Defense and special teams nearly saved the Knights. Rutgers held Penn State to 100 yards in the first half and blocked a punt and a field goal. The Knights have blocked 39 kicks since 2009, tops in the nation. . . Jason McCourty replaced Ray Rice in the montage of former Rutgers players in the NFL shown between the first and second quarters. . . .The crowd of 53,774 set a stadium record.
Game ball: Hackenberg (24-for-43, 287 yards, 1 interception, 0 TD)
What’s Next: The Scarlet Knights visit Navy Sept. 20 (3:30 p.m.)
For two years, the big question about Rutgers football has been how competitive the Scarlet Knights will be in the Big Ten.
Saturday night at 8, they’ll start providing answers when they host Penn State at High Point Solutions Stadium in their first game in their new, prestigious conference (AP, Sept. 12).
Both teams are 2-0. Bur in terms of tradition and on-field success, Penn State is far ahead of the Knights, whose invitation had more to do with New Jersey’s population and demographics. The game is on the Big Ten Network, an already profitable channel expected to benefit greatly by expanding into the Garden State.
“I think we just need to come out and play our game and show the world what we can do because a lot of people were writing us off at the beginning of the year,” said Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft from Downingtown, Pa. “I guess we’re starting to get a little more attention now being 2-0 and heading into the Big Ten, but I think we need to come out and play how we can play: fast and physical. Show the world that we belong here and we’re going to be a staple in the Big Ten.”
Rutgers’ football coach Kyle Flood has agreed to a two-year contract extension, the school announced.
“Kyle Flood is a tremendous coach for our football team and has earned the opportunity to lead us into the Big Ten and build on our program successes. With the generosity of private funding, we are pleased to invest in our Head Coach and our entire staff at a level more consistent with our Big Ten peers,” Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann said in a release.
His contract with Rutgers now runs through 2019, and includes a pay raise starting in 2015.
“Coach Flood exemplifies our university’s standards and values both on and off the field,” Rutgers University President Robert Barchi said. “He has put together a strong coaching staff that supports our mission to compete well both in the classroom and on the field.”
Flood currently owns a 17-11 overall record, a Top 10 APR ranking and has led Rutgers to two straight bowl appearances. He was named the 2012 Big East Coach of The Year in his first season as head coach, the Scarlet Knights earned a share of the 2012 Big East title, the first championship in program history.
Flood is the first coach in school history to lead the Scarlet Knights to bowl games in each of his first two years as head coach.
“Ray [Rice] will always be a part of our family. The video I saw this morning was difficult to watch. As a husband and as a father, there’s nothing that could justify what I saw on that video. This is a sad day for Ray and a sad day for Rutgers.”
-Rutgers’ coach Kyle Flood on former running back Ray Rice
Result: The Scarlet Knights defeated the Bison by a score of 38-25 Saturday afternoon in a game at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Need to Know: Rutgers may have picked up its second win of the season, but it was far from the clean game the team was looking for. Despite the sloppy outing, the Scarlet Knights went up 31-7 in the first half thanks to quarterback Gary Nova, who completed 15-of-19 attempts for 282 yards, and running back Paul James, who had three touchdowns in the first half. Running back Desmon Peoples also recorded a career-high 55 yards on 11 carries during the game.
Game ball: James, who was the first Rutgers running back in 25 years to have a 100-yard receiving game and scored three touch downs.
What’s Next: The Scarlet Knights will face Penn State on Sept. 13 in their Big Ten Conference opener.
Rutgers opens its home schedule on Saturday against FCS member Howard at noon at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Rutgers is 1-0 after knocking off Washington State on the road last week 41-38 last week. Rutgers will pound the ball with Paul James, but the coaching staff has to be careful not to wear the star running back out. James had 173 yards on 29 carries against Washington State.