Three and out
1. Can the Rutgers defensive line contain Teddy Bridgewater?
There is no secret to this one. The Big East’s final Player of the Year is back and as strong as ever. To make matters worse, the Rutgers’ defensive line has generated only 11 quarterback hurries this season against unranked teams. It is difficult to imagine that it is going to be any easier against Teddy Bridgewater and the nation’s second-ranked team. And only eight of the Rutgers’s 15 sacks on the season have come courtesy of the defensive line. If the Scarlet Knights have any hope of keeping the Cardinals within striking distance, the defensive line is going to have to step up its game.
2. Can Rutgers’ defense find its groove on the road?
In home games, the Scarlet Knights boast a nice and comfortable eight points per game average at home. But away from High Point Solutions Stadium, they have yet to hold an opponent below 50 points. Whether that has anything to do with the location or if it is more that Rutgers has just faced better quarterbacks on the road has yet to be seen. It will certainly be put to an even bigger test tomorrow than it has in either of the first two road games. Bridgewater leads an offense that has not been held under 44 points at home and scored a staggering 72 points against FIU (which had a running clock for a big chunk of the game). Head coach Kyle Flood is not shy about admitting how dangerous Bridgewater is, and the defense’s road numbers do not help matters.
3. Is Justin Goodwin for real?
For the third time in his career, it looks like Savon Huggins will be upstaged by a Rutgers running back. This time it is true freshman running back Justin Goodwin, whi proved to be a more formidable option in Rutgers’ triple-overtime win against SMU. Goodwin ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. He also caught two passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. But Huggins put up numbers like that once too. To prove he can be the feature back moving forward, Goodwin needs to do it against tougher teams, and none will be tougher in the regular season than Louisville. This will be a good look into what can be expected of Goodwin in the future.
Fourth and short
What will the Rutgers offense look like?
Hidden behind the Bridgewater hype is that the Louisville defense has not given up more than season points at home this season. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova seems to have found a groove this season, even on the road. This will be the best defense he has faced.
The sophisticated fan will be watching…
Louisville receiver DeVante Parker
The Knights did a good job blanketing Parker in last season’s meeting, but that was when they still had cornerbacks Logan Ryan, Marcus Cooper and Brandon Jones. They also could not keep Parker out of the endzone. This season Parker averages 75 receiving yards per game and more than a touchdown per game. If anyone is going to gash the inexperienced Rutgers secondary (aside from Bridgewater), it is likely going to be Parker. That is, if he plays. He’s a game-time decision with a shoulder injury.
This game’s key player(s) are…
The Rutgers defensive linemen
As said before, if the Knights have a prayer of staying competitive in this game, the defensive line has to keep Bridgewater in check. It only makes matters worse that he is a very mobile quarterback. The stat sheet says he averages fewer than eight rushing yards per game, but considering sacks count against a quarterback’s rushing yards, that number is likely not accurate. Not to mention since he throws for more than 300 yards passing per game, there does not appear to be much of a need for him to run.
Quote of the Week
“He’s a human being. He bleeds the same way I bleed, so why should I be scared?” – Middle linebacker Steve Longa on Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater