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Rutgers Goes On The Road To Penn State

Norris Wilson (left) replaces Kyle Flood (middle) as interim head coach for three games after Flood was suspended three games / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Norries Wilson (left) replces Kyle Flood (middle) as interim head coach after Flood was suspended three games / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Rutgers football actually plays a game this week. Oh, you didn’t know? Yeah, they travel to Beaver Stadium to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions for a Saturday night showdown.

The Scarlet Knight’s program has been a laughing stock for the rest of the country as they seemingly can’t get out of the negative light. They have had multiple what were current and former players arrested and dismissed for their part in home invasions and robberies, in addition to their star receiver Leonte Carroo getting arrested after the loss against Washington State after reportedly intervening a fight between a current and ex-girlfriend. Carroo reportedly slammed the ex into the ground injuring her hip, palms, and side of the head. Carroo has been suspended indefinitely from the team and pleaded not-guilty and will report to court on Oct. 1.

On Wednesday, head coach Kyle Flood was suspended himself by Rutgers President Robert Barchi for three games and a $50,000 fine stemming from an investigation that said he had improper contact with a professor regarding a player’s status (you can read Barchi’s statement and conclusions of the report here). The player surrounding the academic conflict is not even on the team anymore as he was one of the troubled players that were dismissed.

Assistant head coach and running backs coach Norries Wilson takes over as interim head coach. He previously was the head man at Columbia from 2006-11.

Without further ado, let’s look at a few keys for a Rutgers victory in Happy Valley.

1. Generate pressure on Hackenberg

Penn State’s quarterback has NFL talent, and will beat anyone if he has the time to throw. However, his offensive line gave up 10 sacks in their season opening loss against Temple and is vulnerable. Only problem is, Rutgers failed to get pressure on Washington State signal caller Luke Falk last week tallying only one sack. Rutgers has an extremely young and inexperienced secondary and just got torched by Falk for 478 passing yards. Defensive tackle Darius Hamilton is still out for the game and Hackenberg could have a field day if they don’t take advantage of his porous offensive line. Redshirt sophomore Kemoko Turay is key at defensive end.

2. Eliminate unforced errors/turnovers

Rutgers committed 11 penalties and gave the ball away three times last Saturday which weighed heavily on outcome, a 37-34 loss to the Cougars. Wilson said the team must control those mistakes and not get psyched out by the hostile atmosphere of the 100,000 plus.

“Our main focus this week (is) to play a clean game, to handle the environment, and to execute,” Wilson said.

3. Establish the run on offense

The Nittany Lions have only given up 218 rushing yards thus far according to ncaa.com, good for No. 35 in the country. Defensive tackles Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson are there to clog up the middle with linebacker Brandon Bell behind them at linebacker.

Rutgers comes in ranked No. 26 with 489 rushing yards in two games thanks to a stable of running backs. Sophomore running back Josh Hicks leads the team with 209 rushing yards and two touchdowns with classmate behind him with 130 yards and a score. Redshirt senior Paul James, who can be a speedy, powerful, and explosive rusher, is working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last season totaling 105 yards on the ground. Third-down back, junior Justin Goodwin, a valuable pass-catcher along with James, has a touchdown on the ground as well as experience. Establishing a running attack will keep drives moving, the Penn State off the field/Rutgers defense rested, and allow quarterback Chris Laviano to work play-action fakes.

 

Prediction: Penn State 24 – Rutgers 13

 

Sound off in the comments. Do you think the punishment was fair? Do you think the crime revolving the program had something to do with the three game suspension as well? What are you keys and predictions for the game?

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