In the preseason, offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen gave one of the most candid press conferences in the history of press conferences. He called didn't sugarcoat anything, and admitted that the quarterback he was going to work with was talented, but flawed. It was one of the more refreshing things to see in a line of work where you can talk for hours without saying anything at all.
When it comes to Maryland? Denial. He denies there's any sort of grudge or bad blood, despite joking that he "burned his diploma" after getting canned. The thing is, it's hard to hide your true feelings from your own players. Take these quotes as told to NJ.com's Dan Duggan:
"He definitely wants to go in there and definitely get a win this week." -WR Leonte Carroo
"He wasn't calling out them out by numbers, he was saying there names. I think you just see that he recruited some of those guys. I know he's very excited, but we'll see how he goes throughout the week." - QB Gary Nova
Expect some fireworks on Saturday.
It's all on C.J. Brown
And I don't mean just in the passing game. Brown is actually the Terps' leading rusher as well with 462 yards on the ground and six touchdowns this season. The next leading rusher? That would be sophomore RB Wes Brown with 299 yards. It's apparent that Maryland is not a power rushing team, which is good news for a Scarlet Knight defense that has been overpowered by Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, and Jeremy Langford. No, the Terps will look to kill you through the air with a solid receiving corps. Of course, star wideout Stefon Diggs is out with a lacerated kidney and is unavailable, leaving Deon Long as the big threat.
The Maryland offense certainly won't give you nightmares, but this team did beat Iowa at home and Penn State in Beaver Stadium. They have plenty of athletes to make plays in space, which is the worst thing that can happen to Rutgers on defense. If the Knights have learned the art of tackling this past week, they'll be in good shape.
Two struggling defenses
A lot has been said about Rutgers' struggles against the run, especially against the star backs of the B1G. Only two other teams are worse at defending the run than the Scarlet Knights, and one of them is Maryland. Both teams are actually very close to each statistically in each defensive category, meaning that this could be a fairly high-scoring matchup.
The Terps do have two defenders in the top six for total tackles in the B1G. Senior LB Cole Farrand and and junior DB Sean Davis each have 100 or more tackles this season, leading an athletic defense that can make plays on the outside. DL Andre Monroe is having a stellar year anchoring the Terp defensive line, as he is now alone in second for total sacks with 9.5 on the season. It'll be fun to watch what has been a pretty good Rutgers offensive line battle to keep Monroe out of the pocket for Gary Nova to make his throws.
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Ralph Friedgen may get all of the coverage in this one, but another factor that is being ignored is the Knights' history with Randy Edsall. Rutgers had some memorable games against the Huskies when Edsall was the HBC in Storrs, including three straight wins against UConn from 2008-2010. Since 2004, Edsall is just 2-5 against Rutgers. Can RU continue the success against an old foe?