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Game #3 Preview: Morgan State At Rutgers

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Includes how to watch and keys to the game

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Morgan State (0-2) At Rutgers (0-2)

Where: High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey

Kick-off: Saturday, September 16th at 3:30 p.m. ET

Note: Military Appreciation Day

TV: BTN

Note: primary channel in NJ/NY/Philly area; non-local area click here for BTN channel finder

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas, Eric LeGrand, and Anthony Fucilli - WCTC 1450-AM, ESPN NY 98.7-FM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, Sirius 83, XM 83

Current Spread: None for FCS v. FBS matchups

Series History: Rutgers leads 3-0 all-time versus Morgan State from the MEAC, with the last meeting resulting in a 38-0 victory in 2008.

Last Season: Morgan State went 3-8 in 2016

NOTE: Former Rutgers QB coach Rob Spence is the offensive coordinator for Morgan State

Key Players For Morgan State

Offense

QB Elijah Stanley: The transfer from Mississippi State who once backed up Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott, has had a rough start to the season. He has only completed 48% of his passes on 86 attempts for 355 yards and 3 interceptions. Morgan State also hasn’t scored at all this season in two games against FCS competition, so Stanley is certainly struggling. He can run a bit with an 18 yard gain as his season long.

RB Eric Harrell: Although he is only third on the team in carries, he leads the Bears with 57 yards rushing and a 4.1 yard per carry average. The senior is from the same Florida high school as one time Rutgers signee Jonathan Pollock.

RB Herb Walker: Our David Brown profiled Walker as the player to watch for Morgan State and he has been an explosive player at times in his career. While he is only averaging 1.5 yards on 22 carries this season, Walker does have 7 catches for 45 yards. He is a speedy back that has the potential to break for big gain if the defense isn’t careful.

WR Amonta Poteat: The 5’9” redshirt senior leads Morgan State with 7 catches for 68 yards this season.

Defense

LB Brandon Griffin: He leads the defense with 13 tackles, has two for a loss, one sack and one interception. Griffin seems to be the biggest disruptor on defense that Morgan State has and obviously Rutgers needs to be aware of his presence at all times.

DE Malachi Washington: He leads the team with 3.5 tackles for a loss, including 1.5 sacks and is the team’s best pass rusher off the edge.

Special Teams

Kicking Duo: Morgan State has had Julian Jacobs and Luke Ursanel attempt a field goal inside the 20 yard line this season, and they both missed them. Considering the Bears haven’t scored a point in two games so far, it seems more likely they will need to score a touchdown if they hope to break through on the scoreboard this Saturday. Jacobs is also the primary punter and has struggled, averaging just 33.3 yards on 12 attempts, as well as having one punt blocked this season.

Keys To The Game

Game Within The Game

There is no question that Rutgers has a lot more talent than their opponent in this contest, which is not something we can say very often. After the major disappointment of last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan, Rutgers needs to mentally recover and start strong in this game. They need to take out their anger against an inferior opponent and dominate the game. This week is more about playing themselves and making progress as a team, versus having to gameplan against their opponent. They need to play with more passion, aggression, focus and minimize mistakes. Rutgers needs something positive in a big way to build off of ahead of conference play beginning the following week. Although every win counts, Rutgers really needs a confidence boosting blowout win that was never in doubt in this game.

Start Strong

That leads into my next key point, as Rutgers needs to establish their dominance right from the opening kickoff. We have watched this team under head coach Chris Ash struggle out of the gate too often, which allows for lesser competition to hang around and build confidence, with the flip side being better teams blow Rutgers out before it’s even halftime. If Rutgers can jump out to a multiple score lead early, it will give them some much needed positive energy.

Get Youth Experience

The other plus is that by building a big lead in the first half, hopefully the staff will be able to get a lot of the true freshmen and other inexperienced players on the roster some quality minutes in this game. Getting action for those young players is really important ahead of Big Ten play and helps build depth for this team. Having significant action and game film to review and for the coaches to teach on with the freshmen and others is paramount to them improving this season. It is also an ideal time to get Johnathan Lewis some extended time and allow him to run his own drives in this game to see what he can do at this stage of his development.

Finish Healthy

With injuries already piling up with the defensive line (Jimmy Hogan and Jon Bateky missed last week and were limited in practice this week, as was Kevin Wilkins) and the best offensive lineman, Tariq Cole, hampered by a minor injury, Rutgers cannot afford any major setbacks in this game, health wise. That’s another reason a fast start in this game is so important, so that the coaching staff can get the starters some rest in the second half and minimize the potential for injuries.

Defensive Dominance

As I mentioned, Morgan State hasn’t scored a point on two FCS opponents. The Rutgers defense played pretty well against Washington and while they had three big goalline stands against Eastern Michigan, they need to be more disciplined and consistent. This game is an opportunity for them to dominate an offense from start to finish. Although allowing a score is certainly possible, anything more than 10 points would be concerning, to be honest. They need to bring the heat and assert their will on an inferior opponent.

Offense Needs To Establish Rhythm

Most of these keys are obvious, but this one is probably the most glaring need for game three. The offense is badly in need of a big performance and must establish some type of positive results from the game. After struggling to find a rhythm in the first two games of the season, offensive coordinator Jerry Kill has a better idea of what he has to work with now. Getting top playmakers involved like Janarion Grant, Jerome Washington, Jawuan Harris, and Damon Mitchell on a consistent basis in the passing game is a must. The offensive line needs to bully the opposing defense and control the line of scrimmage. The running back tandem of Gus Edwards and Robert Martin need to generate more consistent production drive to drive. Kyle Bolin needs to show he can rebound and still lead this unit moving forward. Considering Morgan State hasn’t scored yet this season, there isn’t pressure on the offense to have a big day, but it would benefit them greatly ahead of Big Ten play if they did.