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Game 2 roundup: Rutgers v. Howard

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The OtB staff break down what happened in Rutgers' home opener.

Alex Goodlett

Accolades: 3 players who got it done

Bob Cancro: I like boring and steady, like blue-chip stocks.  Therefore, Paul James (can I list him 3 times?).  As Flood said post-game, he's a complete player. I'll also go with Nova.  I wasn't happy with his first couple throws (and he had no touch on a couple others that seemed to be destined for big gains or TDs), but he was pretty efficient and he spread it around well. Nine different players had catches. And on defense, Dave Milewski.  Six solo tackles, two for loses and a sack.  He needs to be cloned, along with Longa.

Andy Egan: Gary Nova has been very efficient through two games he is 31/46 (67.4%) with 6 TDs and 1 INT. Against Howard, he was 15/19 (78.9%) for 282 yds and 4TDs.  We have seen Gary play well in the beginning of the year before, so need to see more, but off to a very good start. Paul James has to be on this list, but writing his name over and over gets boring, so I will also choose John Tsimis. Very solid possession receiver, added 3 catches for 40 yds and a TD. On Defense/special teams, Nadir Barnwell blocked a punt and recovered a fumble.

Kevin Recio: Nova is doing exactly what we want him to do through two games: smarter decisions, and taking care of the football. Even though we've seem him do this before, I'm encouraged that he has a better overall command of the offense. You can tell he's a different player this year. Whether or not that carries over into the latter half of the season remains to be seen, but I am more confident than worried. Leonte Carroo is just spectacular. He has the surefire hands of Mohamed Sanu with the speed of Tim Brown. He is a star in the making and should be on top of the B1G wide receiver list this season. I like what I saw with Nadir Barnwell. He found himself in positions to make plays, and he did just that in special teams and defense.

Dave White: Corey Sanders got it done this week.  Welcome, Corey!

Ray Ransom: JamesJamesJamesJamesJames also Nova. Enough has been said about these rock stars, so I'll go off the beaten path. I thought John Tsimis had a great game and has remained a very consistent performer, both as a downfield blocker and as a receiver in key situations. The kid just catches touchdowns. I thought Barnwell and Cioffi had some issues in coverage but were hustling and did great things on ST. It's easy to root for these guys and the hope is that they round into form as the season and their careers go on. Finally, Michael Burton is just an animal. I'd put him on par with our other offensive leaders in terms of importance to our offensive output.

Demerits: 3 players who can do better

BC: Kyle Federico - too inconsistent on KO's (2 out of bounds, really?) and missed FG.  Need more and better from the kicking game to play with the big boys.

AE: Federico is definitely on the needs improvement list. Run defense needs work, and I'm not sure which specific players to call out for that. I know we played a lot of 2s in the second half, but our 2s have to be better than Howard's 1s.

KR: Federico just pooped the bed in the kicking game, which is disappointing considering how well he played in Seattle. I don't think you react too quickly, but I suspect the game this Saturday will be close so he'll need to be more consistent. I hate to pick on Kroft because he's getting lots of attention from opposing defenses, but if he wants to become a dominant player he'll need to figure out how to beat the coverage. I didn't really see another player that struggled, so I'll single out the entire defensive line. With all talent and experience coming back, they're without a doubt disappointing so far. It's not disastrous, but they should be more dominant than they are currently playing. They have a great chance for redemption this Saturday.

DW: There are still 3 open scholarships.  They can be filled, and that will be better.

RR: Federico had his moments, both good and bad. I wanted to see a little more out of Laviano, as backup QB is a position of concern. One snap away...

Favorite playcall

BC: The swing pass Nova to James that went for the TD.  Friedgen is very good and knows how to utilize his players' strengths. And find those strengths.  Man, does James have speed.

AE: I love using Paul James as a receiver on swing passes.  That makes him unstoppable, and harkens back to the way Leonard and Rice were used.  My favorite overall play was Kemoko Turay's sack. The pure explosive violence he hits people with is breathtaking.

KR: Favorite play call was in the second drive of the game for RU. Nova was in the shotgun with Peoples offset to his left. Howard defense puts coverage on the wide receivers, leaving Peoples open on a seam route right up the middle. Great play-call by Friedgen that should add another dimension to the offense.

DW: Having one of the top JUCO Power Forwards in Malik Dime on campus this week.  Also, this move by Eddie Jordan was classy all the way.

RR: Any passing play to the backfield. James and Burton have some great hands and great moves after the catch. Keeping those guys as active receivers also pressures the defensive secondary, as they have to keep an eye in the backfield on backs-turned-receivers, creating room for a receiving core that has been performing well.

Worst playcall

AE: Hard to criticize most of the playcalling here.  We ran plain vanilla schemes on both sides of the ball, as we should have. There were blown coverages in the secondary, and that is an ongoing concern, but I'm not sure whether that was an execution issue or a scheme issues yesterday.

KR: The fourth-down call in the second half. I like going for it, but I'm not sure about the play-call. Grant is a playmaker, but the screen pass was used so many times by then that I think Howard was ready for it on that play.

DW: Huh?

RR: I thought the playcalling when Laviano came in was extremely conservative. The defense was able to sneak up and crowd the line and sit on the short routes. I say open it up with a deep throw to let the kid air it out a bit. Hit or not, it backs the defense up and makes them play the entire field.

Impressions

BC: I reacted too fast to the game final.  I was disappointed in the final score, but then you step back and say, we were up 31-7 at the half and controlled the line of scrimmage.  And we won.  It was a bit choppy, a game that didn't seem to have a flow to it.  But special teams blocked two kicks - very nice.  Biggest takeaway? Our second team needs some building up, but overall it was okay.  I was also disappointed in the crowd.  One, it wasn't crowded.  Two, not very vocal.  I'll talk about it more on Wednesday.

AE: No style points here, but Rutgers did what it had to do, some backups at key spots (Laviano most importantly) got game experience, and Rutgers walked off with a win and no major injuries, so overall I'm happy with that.  There are definitely areas for improvement, and we have depth concerns at some spots, but none of that is a surprise. After the carnage engulfing most of the rest of the B1G (seriously Michigan? NO Points?!?), I have no problem with a workman-like, if not flashy, victory over an FCS team. Gold star to the student section today - they showed up early and loud. They didn't stay the whole game, but it was stupid hot and those beers weren't going to drink themselves. Bring on the Nitty Kitties.

KR: The final score isn't truly indicative of the game, in my opinion. Rutgers is much closer to the first half of play than the second. Defense is still a work in progress, and the Navy game looks more daunting now as well. Andy is right though, the B1G looked like a dumpster fire yesterday, so it's not like RU doesn't have a good chance for a great season. The most important factor is Nova.

DW: I think I get 2 weeks to run this into the ground so:

RR:Two numbers in this game overshadow all others. 0 and 1. The number of injuries and the number of wins this week, respectively. Rutgers avoided the trap with #ttfpweek looming and was able to get the 2s some experience. Perhaps more importantly, with the physical Big Ten conference slate ahead, it would appear we got out of the game unscathed. Bring on ttfp!