Rutgers Brandon Jones Named Special Teams Player Of The Week

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Rutgers Football: Brandon Jones Named Special Teams Player Of The Week

There's no doubt that the Rutgers University football program wouldn't be at 5-1 without its special teams and for the second time this season Monday, a player, senior cornerback Brandon Jones, earned the Big East Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors. In a Rutgers victory over Navy, 21-20, Saturday, Jones blocked a possible game-winning 34-yard field goal by Jon Teague with 4:43 remaining in the game.

"I thought Brandon Jones did it exactly as he was coached, extended his body — sacrificed his body," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. "Do you know how much that hurts when you lay out and land? It doesn’t feel real good. That was a heck of an effort."

Jones also caught his second career interception in the win.

Also being reconized this week were Rutgers juniors, linebacker Khaseem Greene and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who each made the Big East honor roll. Greene made a collegiate-best 14 tackles, while Sanu caught 10 balls for 100 yards.

Meanwhile, the University of Cincinnati's senior running back Isaiah Pead earned the Offensive Player of the Week,  while the University of Connecticut's freshman defensive back Byron Jones won the Defensive Player Of the Week.

Pead ran for 151 yards and scored the go-ahead TD with 50-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter to help the Bearcats earn a 25-16 victory over the University of Louisville. Meanwhile, Jones scooped up a third-quarter fumble and ran it 10 yards into the end zone to help the Huskies beat the University of South Florida, 16-10.

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Rutgers 21, Navy 20: Reaction To Scarlet Knights' Victory

The Rutgers University football program is getting used to winning ugly, much like it did Saturday afternoon in a 21-20 victory over Navy in a non-conference contest at High Points Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. The victory helped the Scarlet Knights (5-1, 2-0 Big East Conference) move to within one win from becoming bowl eligible. Something nobody, at least this early in the season, saw coming.

"(the University of Cincinnati and Rutgers) nobody picked anywhere near the top of the conference are now one win away from becoming bowl eligible," wrote ESPN.com's Big East blogger Andrea Adelson Sunday. "Both were 4-8 last season; both sit at 5-1 headed into next week. Both hit the road next week: Rutgers is at Louisville; Cincinnati goes to USF."

Here's what the SB Nation blog On The Banks had to say Sunday morning:

Getting by with a large turnover margin is sustainable over a season. It is not sustainable over a long-term basis, and it is certainly subject to week-to-week fluctuations as we saw yesterday. Looking at the raw underlying stats, Rutgers should have beaten Navy by double digits. The Scarlet Knights had a considerable edge in first downs, total yardage, and time of possession. Navy won the turnover game though, and shockingly were not called for one single chop block all game. Navy is a good team, who have been the recipients of some bad luck and a tougher-than-normal schedule. However, RU is significantly better, and they win by a larger margin if yesterday's game was replayed multiple times.

Despite there being some question marks -- such as its quarterback position -- Rutgers is now a stunning 5-1 on the season and a early-season contender in the Big East. Wow!

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Rutgers Rallies, Defeats Navy, 21-20

Rutgers University rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Navy, 21-20, in non-conference college football action Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are now 5-1 on the season.

Rutgers trailed Navy, 17-7, late in the third quarter when Gary Nova connected with Quron Pratt for a 10-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to three. On the very next possession Nova led Rutgers on a 66-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 20-yard pass to Tim Wright, giving Rutgers their first lead since early in the first quarter.

Navy was driving late in the game, but had a field goal blocked that would have given them a late lead. Blocked kicks has been a problem for Navy all season who had a 35-yard extra point blocked in overtime against Air Force, and a field goal blocked against Southern Mississippi last week.

Ironically Navy blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by Rutgers with 30 seconds remaining, which would have stretched the lead to four and all but iced the game. However, even with the blocked kick, Navy still needed to drive 70 yards in 24 seconds, without any timeouts. The game ended three plays later when Navy's quarterback was sacked by Steve Beauharnais.

Nova finished 23-of-31 for a career-high 271 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mohamed Sanu bounced back from a two-catch game against Pitt with a 10-catch, 100-yard performance. Running back Jawan Jamison rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries, the first 100-yard performance of his collegiate career.

Rutgers is at Louisville next week in Big East Conference action before returning home to host No. 13 West Virginia. 

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For more Rutgers reaction check out our Rutgers blog On the Banks.




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Rutgers Vs. Navy: RU Offensive Line Searching For Consistency

After allowing an NCAA record 61 sacks last season, the Rutgers University football program's offensive line was looking for consistency in 2011. However, six weeks into the season, the Scarlet Knights (4-1, 2-0 Big East Conference) are still trying to find a settled starting five.

On Saturday against visiting Navy (2 p.m. on ESPN3), Rutgers will again have another mix of players rotating in-and-out on the offensive line, which has seen eight different players start this season.

"Andre Civil (LT), Desmond Wynn (LG), Caleb Ruch (center), Betim Bujari (RG) and Kaleb Johnson (RT) are the listed as the starters on the two-deep," wrote Tom Luicci Thursday. "But the absence of a running game combined with some leaky pass protection has prompted Schiano to do more shuffling in the offensive line..."

The Daily Targum's Steven Miller recapped the offensive line's inconsistent starting five Thursday.

"The unit trotted out three different starting lineups through five games. The right tackle never played a down of college football through the first two weeks but played every snap since. The right guard was deposed, returned and now plays every other offensive series. The center sees more time at left tackle."

Despite all the swapping, there's some potential in this young offensive line. Currently, true freshman Johnson has pretty much cemented a spot at right tackle, while redshirt freshman Betim Bajari is at right guard. If those two can develop a chemistry on the right-side of the offensive line, then that promises to be an assets for the rest of the season and for the future. Also, the line is on pace to allow just 26 sacks this season, which is a much better mark than last year.

For right now, the Rutgers starting five is a work in progress, but as long as the Scarlet Knights continue to win the fan base can live with it.

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Rutgers Vs. Navy: Scouting The Midshipmen

A week after shocking the Big East Conference with a decisive 34-10 victory over the University of Pittsburgh, the Rutgers University football program will shift gears back to non-conference play as it hosts the Navy Midshipmen Saturday (2 p.m. on ESPN3) at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. The Scarlet Knights (4-1, 2-0 Big East) will try to put together their first four-game winning streak in two seasons during Homecoming Weekend, while the Midshipmen (2-3) will be trying to shake off their first three-game losing streak since 2002.

If you're unfamiliar with the Navy football program, here's a brief scouting report on the Midshipmen.

Head Coach

What Ken Niumatalolo has done in his first three seasons as the leader of the Midshipmen can only be described as stellar. In three years as head coach Niumtatlolo has lead the Midshipmen to a bowl game. His 29 wins are the most in school history by a coach in his first four seasons at the helm.

Last Season

The Midshipmen finished the regular season 9-3 and earned a bow berth to the Poinsettia Bowl, but lost to San Diego State University, 35-14.

Offense

The Midshipmen run the famous triple-option offense, which features a lot of running and very little passing. Currently, Navy leads the nation in rush attempts (60.8) and yards per game (366.0). Senior starting quarterback Kriss Proctor is 23rd in the nation in rushing (104.8), while senior fullback Alexander Teich ranks 26th (102.0). Teich is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

"They count on the big play. Corners falling asleep and the secondary falling asleep, that’s how they score points. They need to hit two or three of those a game," Rutgers senior cornerback Logan Ryan said about Navy Wednesday. "That makes my job harder, just to be precise every play knowing that they might run the ball six or seven times before they throw it. That makes you’re job harder as a corner because you have to be on your A-game every play and not be caught by surprise."

However, the Navy offense has been known to speed things up.

"... They've gone now to the no-huddle," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano Monday during his weekly teleconference. "So they're running no-huddle, triple-option, which, if it wasn't hard enough before. So now instead of running the play, they start the guy in motion, and the whole group looks to the sideline, not every play, but a bunch of plays.  It's going to be a challenging week."

Senior fullback Devon Diggs (21 carries, 111 yards) and junior running back John Howell (17, 229) could also see some action this Saturday.

Defense

If there's one thing that the Scarlet Knights could exploit Saturday, it's the Navy defense. Currently, the Midshipmen's defense is ranked 119 out of 120 Football Championship Subdivision schools. During the last two games, Navy has allowed 13 TDs, 943 total yards and has allowed its opponents to convert 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) on third downs.

"Our pride’s been hurt on defense," Niumatalolo said earlier in the week. "We’re a very proud defensive team. We’ve been a team that’s prided itself on playing hard-nosed football, and these last two weeks have been uncharacteristic for us. Our deal is we’re going to go back and do what we do and just go to the basics. I’ve great faith that we’ll respond. That wasn’t us. That’s not who we’ve been."

If the Navy defense shows up, look for outside linebackers, juniors Brye French and Tra'ves Bush, names to be called often.

Conclusion

Navy can show up and play against anybody as was shown in a Week 3 loss, 24-21, to the University of South Carolina, which currently is ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll and No. 15 in the USA Today poll3. However, if the Scarlet Knights are for real they should be able to easily handle the Midshipmen.

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Rutgers Vs. Navy: Gary Nova To Get The Start At Quarterback

It's not often when playing a true freshman quarterback leads to victories. However, this has been the case for the Rutgers University football program, which has won three straight games and on Monday announced, through its head coach Greg Schiano, that true freshman quarterback Gary Nova will start his second straight game Saturday against visiting Navy (2 p.m. on ESPN3). Currently, Rutgers (4-1, 2-0 Big East Conference) is atop of the league standings.

Nova, who played sparingly during the first three weeks of the season, made his first collegiate start last week and helped lead the Scarlet Knights to a decisive, 34-10, upset victory over Big East Conference foe the University of Pittsburgh. Nova finished the game 11-of-24 with 174-passing yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, Nova didn't throw an interception.


Passing Rushing Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2011 - Gary Nova 4 83.0 32 68 47.1 412 103 6.1 4 0 7 -60 -15 -8.6 0 - -

In Week 5 at Syracuse University, Nova didn't start, but entered the game midway through the third quarter after starting quarterback, sophomore Chas Dodd, struggled to get the offense moving. With the game 13-3 in favor of the Orange, Nova went 13-of-21 with 118 yards and tossed a game-tying touchdown to junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu with 2:09 remaining in regulation. Rutgers completed its come-from-behind victory, 19-16, in double overtime.

A day later, Schiano was uncertain about who would start against Pittsburgh saying that he was going decided later in the week. In the end, Nova got the starting nod.

"We see potential all the time,' said Schiano on Monday. "The reality is we had one quarterback in our program that had ever taken a college snap.  So we thought it was critical that Gary gets snaps just in case he needs to go in."

"As things began to evolve, those snaps served him well Saturday and served him well in the second half at Syracuse."

It seems as if Nova is the best option for this young but talented Rutgers squad, which is also slowly developing true freshman running back Savon Huggins. Being a personal witness of Nova's performance against Syracuse, it was clear the Scarlet Knights offense had a lot more potential with Nova than Dodd. Moving forward, Nova is the answer for Rutgers not Dodd, who will make a very nice serviceable backup.

However, Rutgers fans know how back-and-forth Schiano came be about his quarterbacks. Earlier last year, Schiano couldn't decided on starting either Dodd or sophomore quarterback Tom Savage. Like Dodd, Savage began the year as stater, but in the end lost out to Dodd. Savage transferred after the season.

Scarlet Knights faithful can only hope Schiano sticks to his guns on this one and makes it clear to everyone that the quarterback will be Nova. Of course, everyone needs to hope that Nova continues to play well and progress as the season goes along.

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