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Norfolk State Beat Writer, David Hall, Previews Matchup With Rutgers

Rutgers hosts Norfolk State, Saturday at noon.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team opens their 2015 season on Saturday, September 5 at High Point Solutions Stadium. It’s been a few years since the Knights have opened a season at home and the team will be looking to get off to a fast start. Hayden Rettig will have the start at quarterback against the Norfolk State Spartans. Kickoff is set for noon.

Norfolk State beat writer, David Hall, from the Virginian Pilot, spoke with us to preview the matchup.

 

Paul James (Image via ScarletKnights.com)

Paul James (Image via ScarletKnights.com)

 

DoubleGSports: Latrell Scott has taken over the head coaching position after Pete Adrian retired. Have there been any noticeable changes to the program?

David Hall: Most notably, Scott cleaned house and brought in his own entire staff. The practice schedule is a little more frenzied, and some of the conditioning routines became more hand-eye specific to allow for success in Scott’s West Coast offense.

DGS: For the past couple years, Norfolk State has had their defense keep them in games, while the offense has been unable to do much of anything. Any reason to believe that will change this season?

DH: In a word, yes. Scott has a proven track record of making the West Coast offense work. He was his own coordinator at Virginia State, where scoring and yardage records fell in his two seasons there.

DGS: What are the overall expectations for the Spartans entering the 2015 season? Can they get to .500 or above?

DH: I think it’s possible, if they can weather what might be an 0-3 start against much larger non-conference programs in Rutgers, Old Dominion and Marshall. The MEAC will represent a huge step down in terms of size and talent, and Scott has proven that he can succeed right away on a level playing field.

DGS: What was the most competitive position battle Norfolk State saw throughout training camp?

DH: Battles at defensive end, where sophomore Chris Lee and junior Lamonte Clark are listed as co-starters, and kicker/punter, where junior incumbent Cameron Marouf and true freshman Bo Lomax have competed, will both come down to game day at Rutgers.

DGS: Why should Rutgers be concerned about playing Norfolk State in the season opener?

DH: I’d be concerned because of the unknowns. In addition to the entirely new coaching staff, quarterback Greg Hankerson, a transfer from Florida Atlantic, and running back Gerard Johnson, a transfer from Old Dominion, are key unknown variables.

DGS: Deon King (LB) and Isaac White (WR) are the teams’ big players. Who else may stand out this season?

DH: I look for Johnson, a hard runner who can break tackles, to have a big year. Senior Isaac White is a rangy receiver with a nose for the ball, and senior inside linebacker Lamar Neal will be a key part of the defense.

DGS: Is there a particular position group on Rutgers roster that may give Norfolk State the biggest headache?

DH: I think the game will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage. Rutgers will have to use its size advantage to keep NSU’s players from fulfilling their assignments.

DGS: Will Norfolk State be bringing their well known, and highly entertaining band to High Point Solutions Stadium?

DH: No.

DGS: How excited does a team like Norfolk State get, going on the road to play a Big Ten team?

DH: They’re pretty stoked. Many remember being there two years ago, and they don’t want to fall into an intimidation trap like they did then. And Scott said they’re not just going up there to collect a check; they want to win.

DGS: Game Prediction?

DH: That’s tough, given all the newness at NSU. But a 28-10 Rutgers win wouldn’t surprise me.

 

You can follow David Hall on Twitter, @davidhallvp

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