Rutgers, WVU grab early momentum in Big East
“Not only do we have to play good at home,” he said, “we’ve got to learn how to travel and go into somebody else’s place and do OK.”
If that happens, the Big East, which could use some good news with recent defections of football members, won’t be the only BCS conference without a Top 10 team.
Just as Holgorsen is making the right moves, so too is Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, whose offseason reshuffling of the defense and recent decision to start freshman quarterback Gary Nova are reaping rewards.
The Scarlet Knights (4-1) are 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2006 with a nonconference game looming Saturday against Navy.
Rutgers wasn’t on anyone’s radar when the season started, not after losing its last six games a year ago following the paralyzing injury to Eric LeGrand.
At the end of 2010, Schiano was fed up with his sluggish defense, so he moved several returning starters to other positions in the offseason to infuse more speed.
Justin Francis, who shifted from defensive end to defensive tackle, had a career-high eight stops, including two of the team’s six sacks, in a 34-10 dismantling of Pittsburgh last week. Safety-turned-linebacker Khaseem Greene posted 11 tackles to boost his team-high total to 45.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Logan Ryan had two of Rutgers‘ four interceptions against Pittsburgh. He returned one of them for a touchdown.
Who’s sluggish now? The Scarlet Knights are giving up 15 points per game, 11th best in the FBS, and are tied with South Carolina with 22 takeaways, the most in the nation.
And don’t forget about Mohamed Sanu, the conference leader with 45 receptions.
“What I’m excited about is the way our guys have come together, the chemistry on our team,” Schiano said. “We had as tough a year last year as we’ve ever had around here. And for a lot of reasons. We’re not there yet, but I like the direction we’re heading.”
Circle Oct. 29 on the calendar, when West Virginia plays at Rutgers in a key game in the league title chase.