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A Few Things to Know as Rutgers Takes on Kansas Tomorrow

Rutgers gets ready to snap the ball against Penn State / Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Rutgers gets ready to snap the ball against Penn State / Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Will things stay black-and-white for Rutgers, or will it change to a colorful scenery?

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-2, 0-1) host the Kansas Jayhawks for their annual homecoming matchup on Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon at High Point Solutions Stadium. Rutgers is coming off their first conference lost at Penn State last week, while Kansas (0-2) was idle.

Kansas comes into Piscataway with a 30-game road losing streak, and many have speculated that Rutgers is the team’s best chance at breaking that mark in 2015. With Rutgers’ head coach in the thick of a three-game suspension, their star wide receiver Leonte Carroo suspended, and with numerous players dismissed earlier this season, the Knights have been full of distraction, and losers of two straight.

In addition, Kansas runs a high-temp offense scoring 30.5 points per game that is sure to give Rutgers fits, similar to Washington State, only the Jayhawks will run the ball more and send out a duel-threat quarterback in Montell Cozart. The signal caller has thrown for 409 yards with a touchdown and interception, and has run the ball for 112 yards.

“Tempo is tough,” interim head coach Norries Wilson said. “If that’s not something that you do as a program and you only see it every happenstance, you have to practice against it. (Defensive coordinator Joe) Rossi and the other defensive coaches have put together a plan on how to practice tempo, going a couple of huddles at the same time so the guys can get back and get lined up. But it does pose a challenge for us.”

On the opposite side of the ball, Kansas has given up 557 yards per game, good for 123rd in the country out of 127 FBS schools. The Jayhawks also have given up 48 points per game, which is 125th in the nation.

The Scarlet Knights failed to run the ball effectively against the Nittany Lions last week, and could go along way in wearing down a Kansas team that lacks depth. Kansas brings a defense that presents multiple looks to opposing offenses says Wilson.

“They run a couple of fronts on defense that we have to be prepared for them to shift their line up. They’re athletic up front. They’ve got some guys that can run around and we have to make sure we try to keep it clean up front and win the line of scrimmage. That’s something we didn’t do great this past Saturday, so we’re emphasizing winning the line of scrimmage and making sure that we don’t let them tee off on us.”

RU running back Josh Hicks carrying the ball against Washington State / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

RU running back Josh Hicks carrying the ball against Washington State / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Sophomore Josh Hicks (258 yards and two touchdowns) has taken the reigns of the running back rotation, out performing classmate Robert Martin (150 yard and one touchdown) and redshirt senior Paul James (120 yards), yet we will still see all three backs get a chance to tote the rock. The offensive line, who could be without right guard Chris Muller (questionable), will need to win the point of attack and open holes for the Scarlet Knights’ backs, to gain time of possession, and to ease things for redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano.

Laviano has thrown for a respectable 593 yards on 54-of-74 passing with four touchdowns, good for 72 percent and a 148.02 efficiency rating. The negative about Laviano however, is he is turnover prone with three interceptions and a couple of fumbles. If he struggles against Kansas, we may see Hayden Rettig, who lost the quarterback battle despite having the stronger arm and completing 9-of-11 passing for 110 yards a touchdown in the first half against Norfolk State in the season opener.

Who knows, maybe Flood has kept Laviano in because he has the better grasp of the playbook and more mobility, and the five sacks he look against the Penn State defense could have been a lot worse. Who knows?

What is your prediction for the game? Are you going? Chime in and comment on your keys to the game and your score prediction for Saturday’s game against Kansas. Is it a must win?

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