By Matt Sugam
Three and out
1. Which Arkansas will Rutgers see?
One thing we know is it will be a desperate one. After getting upset at home by Lousianna-Monroe, the Razorbacks were blown out by Alabama 52-0 to fall to 1-2. Clearly they haven’t looked like the No. 8 team in the country that they were ranked preseason. But as bad as they’ve been the past two weeks, they surely have something to prove. Rutgers has to make sure it’s not against them. Getting an early lead would help do that.
He had school-record 41 carries vs. USF. Fortunately that was a Thursday night game, so he has had 10 days to rest his body. It also looks like P.J. James (ankle) may could make his season debut. While James won’t get as many reps as a healthy Savon Huggins (ankle) would have, head coach Kyle Flood will be more apt to use him as a spell back than Ben Martin and Desmon Peoples.
3. How will Rutgers handle Arkansas’ quarterback situation?
Tyler Wilson (concussion) wasn’t cleared to play until Thursday evening. With the uncertainty at quarterback for most of the week, Rutgers had to prepare for both Wilson, redshirt freshman Brandon Allen. Not to mention wide receiver Brandon Mitchell who runs the wildcat. Rutgers has always been an aggressive defense that likes to get hits on the quarterback. They’ll surely go after first-team all-SEC quarterback. Especially early in the game.
This games key player is…
Punter Justin Doerner
I know what you’re thinking. A punter? Really?? But as Rich Eisen famously said, “-”punters are people too!” And while I would never say a punter is a key player, there are two factors that weighed in this decision. The first is his putrid average of 32.7 yards a punt vs. USF. It’s a number he needs to improve on to help Rutgers win the field position battle. He’s also going to be the holder for the injured J.T. Tartacoff (dislocated pinky). And the last two games, the snap and hold hasn’t gone all that smoothly for the Scarlet Knights.
The sophisticated fan will be watching…
They’re ranked 117th out of 120 teams nationally with 31 penalties through the first three games. While some are “aggressive penalties,” Flood has been preaching to his team that they need to cut back on penalties. While the penalties haven’t cost Rutgers a game yet, it’s only a matter of time until they do.
Fourth and short
A win would be Rutgers on the map in the national landscape. A loss wouldn’t affect Rutgers in the grand scheme of things, considering that elusive Big East title would still be up for grabs.
Quote of the week
“Being 4-0 doesn’t mean anything if you end 4-8. I’ve been there.” – Rutgers defensive tackle Scott Vallone